Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Halloween Parade

The ghosties and ghoulies were out in force at the Rutland Halloween Parade.
And so were the angels.




I did not get good pictures, but there were some good floats.  We got into town 45 minutes before the parade started to stake out a spot by the curb.  It was cold, but we bundled up.  The atmosphere was festive--lots of costumes, music playing, excited kids. 

Once the parade started, this woman stepped out onto the street directly in front of Mike.  He was not thrilled with the view.
There were several kids, hoping for some candy, lined up in front of us.  They were cute.  Unfortunately, their parents (Not the behind seen here) would run out to coach the kids on the best begging techniques to maximize the likelihood of being noticed by the candy distributors.  Good grief.  One kid was terrified by a skeleton that passed by and his mother actually pushed him back out on the street with orders to "Get more candy!"  These were well-heeled, otherwise intelligent sounding people.  We just had to move because we really were getting disgusted.  The parade got a lot more enjoyable after that.  We were toward the back of the sidewalk but we could actually see the parade better because the crowd at the second corner actually seemed interested in watching the parade.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crafty

I signed up for an online craft workshop with Betz White.  Since the weather seems to have stuck on rain lately, I have not felt guilty about holing up in my craft area (a corner of the laundry room) to play.  So far, I have made pinecones and a Christmas tree out of felted sweaters, 2 package topper poinsettias, and 2 angel tree ornaments.  I need no ornaments, but I can always give them away and I have fun making things.
The crafts are all copy right protected so I cannot sell them.  That is a good thing.  Based on the time put into each item, I'd have to charge like $300 a piece.  They are cute, but not THAT cute, for sure.
My corner
Mike noted today that I was outgrowing my space here...taking over the house is how he put it, actually.  HA!  He of three rooms in the house he has entirely to himself.  I have converting the garage to a dedicated craft room on my secret list of home improvements.  I spring these on him slowly over time.
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I went to the library for a reading of "The Raven" and "The Tell Tale Heart."  We are planning a drive down to Rutland (about 60 miles south of here) to see the annual Halloween Parade.  It's always a great parade, but we have not been for quite a while.  Usually, the only Halloween thing I do is buy some candy bars to give to the trick-or-treaters who have never once come to the door here.  But one has to be prepared, right?
Then Mike and i eat the candy.

Happy Halloween

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apple Cake

Bobby at HOT COFFEE & COOL JAZZ shared this recipe for Apple Cake.  I tried it and it was really good--spoke to me of all things autumn.
Having a slight anti-authoritarian steak, I can never just follow a recipe exactly. When I made it, I substituted 1/4 cup of apple cider for 1/4 cup out of the 3/4 cup of oil and there were no problems with that.  I also used King Arthur white whole wheat flour.   Hey, this is Vermont.  There is no actual law that says one MUST use King Arthur flour, but is clearly the correct thing to do.

I had a fun day with friends making Christmas cards today.  Donna and her mother have a fabulous assortment of all the right tools and lots of experience so I feel like I learned a lot.

Incidentally, she served squash soup and the orange-cranberry scones that are currently featured on the K.A. site noted above.  Delicioso, as my 3 year-old (Dora the Explorer watching) grand son would say.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Icky things...

THE very worstest thing about a warm day in the fall when you live in the country is the g*#!d*#! flies.  I could spend the whole day vacuuming them out of the windows.  And, of course, last week I washed windows--just in time for the g*#!d*#! flies to spot all over them. Ick!

I went for my annual physical yesterday.  As usual, my blood pressure was high the first take in the doctor's office, but this time it didn't go down with subsequent readings--averaged out at about 160/90.  Yikes! Now I have to go back and have it monitored again.  I think it was because I was somewhat dehydrated.  It is my opinion--unsubstantiated by any science--that all the ailments known to women stem from dehydration.  I drank lots of water last night and this morning my BP was 118/56. 
On Thursday, I'll get my fasting blood work done.  Last year my cholesterol had gone up quite a bit.  With the increased fruit and veg intake, reduced meat and butter intake, and a small weight loss, I hope for much better this time around.  I hate having blood drawn.

I also had the flu shot--first time in ten years.  The last time I had the shot I also had the flu and that kind of put me off the whole idea.    We'll see how it goes this time.  I hate shots.

Today's lesson for me was about humility, I'm guessing.  I think I do a good job keeping the kitchen swept, mopped, and tidy, but once in a while I just have to get done on hands and knees with a scrub brush.  That's when I notice just how much tomato sauce can splatter around, how much gunk collects on the side of the stove, and just how massive the dust balls holding stray Cheerios can grow while lurking under the fridge.  So I am resolving to not be judgemental about those people who have to go on shows like "Clean House."

Pictures are from PhotoXpress.com.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dust Settles


Writing a thank-you.  So polite.
 I had a fun time with my grand children.  This morning I found a little post-it thank-you note on the bulletin board next to the kitchen telephone from Kristen.  I didn't realize that's what she was doing in the picture above.   What a sweetie.

Kristen showed me how to make this pumpkin.

We made a jack-o'lantern costume for Dane.
We did craft projects, went shopping and rode the escalators (many times); visited a farm to see the animals--pigs, chickens and goats; drew pictures and read stories; ate lots of spaghetti, cookies, and pop corn; and spent time at the playground to burn up the energy.
Things are very quiet today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quick Hello

The grand children will be here for a few days so I don't imagine I will have too much computer time for a while.  I will be busy with other fun projects and getting my exercise trying to keep up.  Maybe we will be making Halloween costumes.
The guy who is going to do the inside painting stopped by today to scope out the job.  He seemed to think it was a doable project and he will get started after Thanksgiving.  At first, I thought that was a long time away, but, gee, it really isn't.  He left a pile of color samples and a promise to bring colored boards in the shades I pick so we can test them in the room.  I look forward to getting things spiffed up.  Mike says, "Who looks at the ceiling?" but he will like it once it is a done job.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Squash

I love squash so this is a great time of year for me to enjoy local produce in a satisfying meal.   This morning I had pumpkin bread made with cranberries and pumpkin seeds for breakfast.  My lunch was baked delecata squash with apple and walnuts, sprinkled with chia seeds.  Tonight, I have pumpkin pudding for dessert.  Last week I made a baked squash stuffed with vegetables and bulghar wheat and a creamy pumpkin polenta that I ate at every meal until it was gone--it was that delicious. I hope I don't turn yellow.
I went to the natural food store to get some fresh nutmeg and some fresh cardamom.  Both go well with winter squash.  I keep going to the spice drawer and sniffing it.  I like being able to buy spices from the bulk bins because I can get small quantities that I will use up while they stay fresh tasting and so fragrant.  I've had my share of those tin boxes of spices that stay in the cupboard for five years.  They really don't add much flavor after a while.  I've become more demanding of flavor in my old age.
In Florida, we get fresh strawberries at the beginning of February, but then we get fresh winter squashes and pumpkins in March, which for some reason surprised me a whole lot more than the strawberries at first.  We could buy corn on the cob the whole time we are in Florida, but it does not compare to what we get in Vermont in August so we just wait for that.  But I digress.
This makes a yummy dish (I have even know some squash haters to eat it and like it):
Dig the seeds out of a butternut squash (our backyard birds gobble them up) and peel the tough outer skin.  Slice the squash and arrange in a buttered baking pan along with two sliced apples.  Sprinkle on a bit of brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, chopped nuts (if you like).  Give it a stir around, pop in a 350 oven for 30 minutes or so (til it is nicely soft).  Honestly, you could eat this for dessert.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Guinea Pigs

A local author and book illustrator, Tracey Cambell Pearson, did a children's program at our  local community center today.  She read a book she has recently illustrated (Guinea Pigs Add Up) and had several craft stations set up.  I had volunteered to bring some apple cider and help set up. It ended up that I stayed to help out at one of the craft tables, too. 
There was a spot for petting guinea pigs, guinea pig cookie decorating, guinea pig mask making, guinea pig crown making, pictures (of--you guessed it--guinea pigs) to color, face painting, and book signing, plus a raffle of books.
Good grief, who knew that guinea pigs were such popular pets?  The place was mobbed with pre-schoolers to early elementary students, parents and grandparents with lots of guinea pigs in tow.  I loved to watch the kids so seriously intent on making their crowns.  A few wanted help, but most were fiercely independent and knew exactly what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it.  My job mostly turned into dispenser of pieces of tape, but it was fun.

This was my second visit to the community center this week.  On Wednesday night I went for "Crackers, Cake and Candidates."  Most of the Democratic hopefuls for the State offices and our Representative to Congress attended  and there was a good crowd of townspeople as well.  That's always a good opportunity to hear what candidates have to say in a friendly format. 
I think maybe I should get a mail in ballot and vote already.  That way I can stop the callers urging me to support this one or that one by saying, "TOO late, already voted!"

Friday, October 15, 2010

Round One

I had my mammogram this week and got the all-clear report.  Mike went to the dermatologist and will have to return to have some squamous cells removed.  He likes to tell me these are not the concerning kind.  I like to tell him to wear sun screen. 
He also went to have some blood work down in preparation for his physical.  I hope fervently to avoid having blood work at my upcoming physical.  I had some drawn last year.  The phlebotomist (?) made vampire jokes, which I did not find at all funny.  I have zero sense of humor about needles being poked into my body.
He has his eye exam out of the way and I have mine coming up in November.  We both have dentist appointments.  When my parents were my age they had false teeth.  I'm hoping to avoid that until I no longer know or care if all my meals are whirled up in a blender.  Electric toothbrush, rubber gum stimulator, floss and fluoride rinse--every day.
Keeping up with these check-ups and tune-ups is practically a job this time of year.  It used to be I did all these routine things during summer vacation so it is actually nice to not have to waste a summer day sitting in a waiting room anymore.
Well, I am not complaining--or I better not be-- because, really, way too many people who are near and dear to us are actually spending full time undergoing medical treatments and procedures.  Gratitude is what is called for here.
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Not related to anything medical, but somehow good for my mental health--I got my hair cut--really cut, not just trimmed off dry and split ends.  Not one word from my loving hubby, but I really like it.  And, seriously, So much more important for me to be happy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

View

Woohoo.  Some sparks flew on The View this morning and Whoopi and Joy both got up and walked out on guest Bill O'Reilly.  Barbara chastised them for doing so and for raising their voices.
Personally, I gave Whoopi and Joy two thumbs up and a big shout out.  You go, girls.
Bill O'Reilly doesn't know the meaning of the word "dialog."  His m.o. is more diatribe.  Maybe they should not have been goaded into raising their voices, but that is a natural tendency when  you have something to say are are going unheard.  It was pretty clear old Bill was not hearing with any kind of openness or understanding.  They had a right to leave and not condone his bigotry and his sarcasm.  I also left, turning off the tube before Barbara finished her statement.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spectacular


Along a wooded path

The only sound in the woods today was the crackle of leaves beneath our feet as we hiked along.  Each step sent up the sun-baked, dry leaf aroma that mixed with the smell of wood smoke in the air.  We stopped in complete awe at the scenery before us a number of times along the way.  We stopped to chat with a neighbor and scratch his dog's head.  Mike stopped to steal a couple of apples from a tree that used to belong to other neighbors who have now moved away and then stopped to sit on a log and eat his apples at the top of a hill.  Mike stopped again to point out a snake sunning itself on the path.  That put renewed pep in my step--not a time to stop in my book.  It was a day that can be only be called spectacular, or, maybe, glorious.
Mike makes this walk nearly everyday.  I usually stick to the road, but I enjoy the woods once in the fall and once in the spring.  I tend to appreciate the stopping to contemplate the wonders of nature a whole lot less than Mike does.  Especially the stopping.  Have to  give credit, though.  Since Mike has lost weight he keeps a much better pace.  His stopping now really is to contemplate some marvel of the natural world rather than to catch his breath.

Looking at the back of my house from the woods.  Okay, now I'm just showing off.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Household Drudgery

Random window, not my house...
My least favorite household task is washing windows.  The streaks are always, always on the inside of a double pane--making it truly double pain (sorry, had to be said).  Our windows are old enough to be cantankerous and sticky--hard to take apart and hard to put back together--and that's when you notice the streaky smudge on the inside of the reassembled window.  I say, "I'm just gonna let that go," but I don't because I can't.
I consider thick drapes pulled closed on all the windows, but we do like to see out our windows and actually have them open as much as possible.  I'm pretty sure that taking down window treatments to clean would quickly overtake window washing in the race for least favorite chore.
I have made a concession in consideration of my age.  I bought a scrubber and squeegee on an extendable pole so that we don't have to drag out ladders, balance precariously at the top of them, and worry about falling into the arbor vitae.
Perhaps the next concession will be hiring someone to wash the windows for me.  Or--one of my best household hints--take off my glasses.  Dust, dirt and smudges disappear like magic.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

For the Chickens


PhotoXpress.com

One thing I have never done, nor do I anticipate ever in my life doing, is raising chickens.  But living in rural Vermont, as I do, I have certainly not been isolated from chickens either.  I pass by several several small scale chicken operations daily.  When I am driving, I really try to avoid hitting the free ranging chickens, observing the sign that announces "Fowl at Play" just down the road, and so far I have been successful. 

I have nothing against chickens.  I just don't want the bother.  For instance, my brother and my sister-in-law pack up their chickens and travel back and forth between Vermont and North Carolina twice each year.  They have the donkeys and the dogs and the bird as well.  This is not the way I want to travel.  It was bad enough trying to sneak a cat into a hotel room.  I'm thinking the average inn keeper is going to look askance at a flock of chickens, two donkeys, four dogs and a pet bird.  But then, my brother thinks I'm wierd for paying for a cheap motel room when we have a perfectly good car to sleep in.

I have also been aware that there is a growing trend for people keeping chickens in urban neighborhoods.  Often there is the "no rooster" rule enacted in these urban neighborhoods.  It's kind of funny to me that  we have the image of the rooster waking the farm up early in the morning and then quietly going about his business for the rest of the day.  No.  Actually rooster crow any time of day they happen to feel like it -- loudly.  What was news to me is that keeping chickens as house pets is becoming increasingly popular.

You can't make this stuff up.  There is a woman in Australia (Brisbane's Courier-Mail) whose business, City Chicks, sells (or rents, if you're not quite ready to fully commit) chickens.  She also sells leads and harnesses for walking your chickens on the city streets, chandeliers for coops (if you can't quite bring the chicks into your house but still want to pamper them, I presume), and fashionable chicken clothing (because, really, who wants their chickens dressed in unfashishionable clothing?).  She has just recently announced her line of "chicken nappies," which were, it is reported, developed in collaboration with a wedding designer. 

Some people can really see the need and just know how to capitalize.  I admire and quite envy such people.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Walk






We did the tourist thing the other day and drove some distance, yet these are pictures I snapped on my walk today. It was cool--although putting on my winter jacket may have been a bit of an over reaction.  It was sunny with fluffy white clouds -- a picture book illustration sky.

I think that I have now canned the last of the tomatoes.  We had cheese and mushroom stuffed pasta shells for supper last night with no tomato sauce.  I was cleaning out my fridge -- assorted odds and ends of cheeses, a handful of mushrooms that didn't get used the other day.  Add a fresh baguette, a green salad, and a glass of red wine and we had ourselves a feast.

That is really the problem with fall.  You start wanting rich and substantial meals from the oven.  That and the local fall produce--apples, pumpkins, squash--lend themselves way too easily to dessert applications. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pilates

The sunset over Lake Champlain last night was flat out spectacular.  A strange cold front had made its way through the area in late afternoon and winds were whipping the leaves off the trees and buckets of rain dumped out of the clouds.  I went to a pilates class anyway, driving into Burlington just as there was a hole opening up in the clouds to the west and the sun was setting.  It's practically a miracle that I didn't drive into another car or run over a pedestrian.  It was a sight worth the trip.

The pilates class was a free introduction at the YMCA.  I did enjoy it--found it to be much more doable than yoga for me.  I'll look for a class closer to home, though.  There are exercise classes of one sort or another offered at the community center or church halls here in town from time to time, but it's hard to find a daytime opportunity.  You don't really ever expect to see "Real Housewives of  Vermont" airing on the TV and the senior scene around here is mostly about luncheons and bus tours.  I don't mind gong out in the evening, but I was a little creeped out having to park on a city block and walk alone back from the Y after dark--what with recent news of older women under attack and all.

Has anyone else noticed something a bit wacky about blogger's spell checker?  I mean it is a worse speller than I am, I think.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Owie

"What fresh hell is this?"  Dorothy Parker

Some times I am just a danger to myself and others.  Yesterday was one of those days.   I burned my arm with boiling water--not seriously, but painful nonetheless.  Aloe vera gel really did help.
The burn incident was after I'd done a load of laundry that included a tissue stuffed in a pocket.  I hate that.
I'm counting forgetting to use my Costco coupons when I went shopping as the third minor disaster of the day.   That way I don't have to dread something else going awry.
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Bad things happen, but this is seriously concerning.  A 78 year old woman was missing from her northern Vermont home a couple of weeks ago.  It was believed that she was abducted.  Her body was found two days ago by hunters in the woods of a nearby town.  The police did not release details except that it was definitely the body of the missing woman and that she had been murdered.  Who did this and WHY?
It is easy to fall into a state of complacency living in a small, mostly rural state with a low crime rate.  Then something like this makes the news and we all re-examine our habits.  Scary.
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Scary...the mid-term elections campaigns.  It's actually becoming possible to believe that our country has been infiltrated by alien beings intent on taking over the government...and coming dangerously close to success.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Foliage Tour

Monday seemed like a good day to go out and do what so many tourists come here for--ride around and look at the fall foliage.  Next weekend will be the "big" one what with the Columbus Day holiday, arts and crafts festivals, cider festivals, country hay rides, and all manner of events planned.  We will avoid being on the roads next weekend so we went out today.
We took a long loop through the mountains.  It was a pleasant ride, but the color seemed a bit off this year--not as vibrant and awe inspiring as it sometimes can be.  Maybe it was the summer heat, the dry spell through July, or the deluge of rain in the past couple of weeks.  It seems like I was reading in the paper a few days ago that those who predict such things were saying the summer weather would have the effect of blunting the fall color OR it would be more spectacular than ever.  No going out a limb there.
We stopped and had a nice lunch at a lodge near the Jay Peak Ski Resort.  It would have been perfect had they had a fire roaring in the fireplace--just for the atmosphere.  It wasn't really cold enough for a fire.
It was a mini vacation...a day off.  Novel concept when you're retired, I guess.  The next several weeks seem like they are just filled with appointments--annual physicals, dentist appointments, eye doctor appointments, a mammogram, hair cuts, oil change on the car--all the little details piling up at once.  I just may be so busy running around that I won't have time to make my own Halloween costume--let alone Mike's. ;)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Frosty Morning

It was here this morning--a covering of frost on the car and the lawn.  Now we know it is really autumn. 

I took a ride to my daughter's yesterday.  She was busy preparing and painting the floor in Kristen's new bedroom.  My son-in-law had put the windows in and was working on siding the house exterior.  So it was play time for grandma and the kids and we were off and running for the day--plenty of silliness and fresh air.  I slept really soundly last night.  I probably wasn't the only one.  Great to have fun and feel useful at the same time.

Today was spent doing some "put the gardens to bed" chores.  It's a process, a work in progress.  The garden I can most easily see from the house is still ablaze with marigolds and phlox so I can hang onto that summertime feeling a bit longer even as I put the sandals in storage boxes (ready to load into the car for the trip to Florida in January) and pull out the thick socks.

Speaking of socks and shoes--Mike went out to buy himself a new pair of walking shoes--maintaining his collection of footwear to three pair of shoes, two pair of sandals, and a pair of winter boots.  Oh, and a pair of L.L. Bean leather moccasins.  Maybe he still has his motorcycle boots hanging around somewhere, I  don't know.  His new shoes are pretty much identical to the pair he threw out, except they are not yet cracked across the toe boxes, worn through by the big toes, and flapping the soles with each step.  Really needing new shoes--not a concept I can wrap my head around.  Needing because I just want them--because that's such a pretty color or that's such a soft leather--that's my modus operendi.  It's good that we are each so accepting of the others foibles.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A good day to stay inside...

Another calendar page flipped over.  September was acting like March--threatening to go out like a lion. 
I was watching TV last night and a weather advisory came on just before I was going to turn it off and get ready for bed.  Words like "severe thunderstorm." "blinding rain," and "tornado" were used.  We were warned a tornado was possible and should there be signs of one, we should go to a safe place like the basement.  Just what you want to hear before going to bed.  I'm not even sure what the signs of an impending tornado might be, but I wasn't thrilled about sleeping with one eye opened watching for them.  Nor was I thrilled with the thought of sleeping on the basement floor "just in case."
In the end there was no thunderstorm, no tornado.  It did get quite warm and there was lots of rain, although I wouldn't characterize as "blinding."  Still, there are reports of road closures because of flooding.  I have no
where I need to go today and the house is dry.  I'm thinking about baking some bread just for the aroma.
Maybe there is such a thing as breading baking scented candles, but I don't care for artificial smells.