Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Walk in the Country

It was warm today...60 degrees! When we are in Florida for the winter I will complain mightily about the frigid weather when the temperature is in the 60's there. All is relative.

I took an extra long walk today to compensate for the recent bad weather and my own recent slothfulness. I walked to Jericho Center and around the green, stopping to drop off a book at our library and then to mail our property tax payment at the box outside the general store, then taking my usual loop: Brown's Trace to Barber Farm road to Fitzsimonds Road back to Brown's Trace.

There are several new highway signs put up in the past few days--"Yield to pedestrians in crosswalk" (seven cars drove by in rapid succession while I stood at the crosswalk) and yellow signs alerting drivers to side roads (most with fairly inventive spellings and/or questionable grammar). By the way, it really annoys me when people automatically add "Road" to my address on Brown's Trace. "Trace" is a synonym for "Road" so there is NO NEED for the redundancy!!!

I noticed along the way what looked like a wet wipe smeared with brown. I was hoping that some one had been feeding chocolate to a toddler and then littered with the clean up attempt, but, no--a bit further up the road, a diaper. ICK, ICK, ICK. The trash in general along the road is quite disturbing. So many people get out to clean up in the spring (Vermont Green Up Day), but then out lovely road is filled up with paper products, beer and liqueur containers, fast food wrappers. cigarette debris, water and soda bottles, and all manner of junk that really turns my stomach to see as I walk past. I don't just complain. I do put on rubber gloves and go out with trash bags, but it gets harder to do each year.

Why trash this?

BAAAd litterers. BAAAd!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Haunting

The ghosties are coming.
The goblins are gathering.
The witches are tuning up their brooms.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Perceptually Challenged

Several gloomy, dark, rainy days in a row have sent me back to some projects that have been on the back burner. I bought some self-striping yarn to make socks for my grand son. I was determined to do this little project (for little feet) on circular needles--something that I have been unable to accomplish previously. It took seven tries to get started and keep the pointed ends of the needles going in the right direction, but I think I finally have got the right rhythm. I'm sure I'll be back to trying to figure it all out again when I start sock number two.
The other project is a shirt I made out of silk I bought on sale--a shirt with a collar and cuffs and button holes. The cuffs are what killed me because they go on opposite sides so somehow they should be mirror images and that is near to impossible for me to figure out--pinning, checking, basting, checking, praying, sewing--very nerve wracking.
I know there are people for whom these kinds of perceptual tasks are just as obvious as the noses on their faces. Lucky people.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Karate Lessons

Kristen has started Karate lessons and just earned her red belt. She was very excited.
This seems like a very good program. It is a lot of exercise, physical and mental. She had to complete the routine, write and an essay about what she has learned from Karate and how it applies to the rest of her life, and get a recommendation from her teacher attesting to her academic efforts and behavior in school. She takes it seriously but also is having great fun.
This is a look of self-esteem.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Better News Today

My brother-in-law's surgery went well. He was making jokes straight out of the recovery room and has been up and walking. The one aggravation was his roommate's wife who apparently is a loud and nonstop talker with a cell phone attached to her ear like an earring. Rude people really do suck. The nurses got on finding him a new room, though, so he can now get some needed rest in between his joggings down the hall. Thanks for the prayers.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I am not particularly religious, but there certainly is a time for prayers, however one chooses to experience them, and this is one of those times. My sister and her husband have arrived in NYC. Wayne has had a recurrence of cancer after a five year remission and will have surgery tomorrow. To me, prayer is gratitude and positive I am grateful that his doctor has the reputation as the best.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sad News

I called my Aunt Jule yesterday and learned the sad news that my Uncle Bill (my Dad's younger brother) has taken a precipitous plunge into dementia. He is in the hospital awaiting an available nursing home bed. Aunt Jule is beside herself. They have been married for 63 years, soul mates in a life well lived, and, of course, that does not make the loss any easier.

Bill and Jule are the last of "the Great Generation" in my family. My Aunt Anne, another Alzheimer's sufferer, died last year. This is a strange coincidence (for lack of a better term) that I realized at Harvey's funeral last June--Mike's remaining "GG" relatives are his Uncle Bill, his Aunt Julie, and his Aunt Anne. I ponder the cosmic meaning of that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Baking Bread


Lately I have been trying my hand at baking bread. I don't have a bread making machine; I'm doing it the old-fashioned way. I'm sure it has something to do with fall. The chilly air makes it pleasant to have the oven turned on. The aroma of baking bread mixes nicely with the smells of wood smoke in the air, ripening apples, drying leaves. Then too, autumn is naturally a time of turning inward. The need to prepare oneself physically, mentally, and spiritually for the coming dark days of winter is urgent. So, baking bread? Yes, it addresses the trio of preparedness needs.

Bread feeds the body, but the act of making bread is a physical and mental workout in itself. The last bit of flour that can be mixed into the dough with a spoon requires muscular effort and determination. Kneading in yet more flour targets biceps and triceps as well as any gym routine (unless, maybe, you are a competitive body builder). At the same time, the push-fold-turn-push motions of the kneading feels as relaxing as standing on the beach watching waves break on the shoreline. After ten minutes or so of kneading bread dough, it is possible for me to reach a meditative state.

On some level, baking bread taps into my relationships with and memories of my mother and grandmother--both bakers of delicious breads. My grandmother made loaves of bread every week. My mother made special breads, rich with spices, nuts, and raisins, for Christmas and Easter. Even beyond the link to my family history, the alchemy of bread dough rising and then of dough turning to bread in the heat of the oven connects me to an ancient wisdom, something almost mystical. Samhain is coming. A new year starts when the old one passes, and I can make magik right here in my kitchen.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall Walk

It was a beautiful day for a walk. People in town recognize me as the woman who walks on Brown's Trace. Some compliment my dedication to fresh air and exercise; other warn about the dangers of walking on the busy road. Well, I do try to watch for vehicles and I seldom to never walk after dusk.
Mike and I rarely walk together. He wants to walk in the woods while I prefer neighborhoods. He likes to saunter while I like a brisk pace. I happen to enjoy a solitary walk--although I don't mind brisk walking company. It's a good time to think, even meditate

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Old School

We had a lovely dinner out with friends who visit from Maryland/Washington, D.C. area each fall. We went to the Winding Brook Bistro in Johnson, Vt, which I highly recommend if you find yourself in that area. Check them out at

The next day I went to lunch with a teacher friend, now also retired.

I got two phone calls thanking me/us for making the trip to share a meal and just share time. That's old school manners, and how delightful.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Foliage

We can, of course, see plenty of beautiful fall color by just looking out the back window, but a couple of days ago we decided to re-enact the old tradition of a drive on Sunday afternoon. It was not a promising morning, but clouds did eventually burn off and we got some lovely views, as promised by this rainbow emerging off the McCullough Road in Middlesex. We managed to take some relatively traffic free back roads and wandered into some territory that I had never seen before--amazing in a small state.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Got Pie? Got Creativity?

I spent this rainy morning making two apple pies and I started to wonder who invented the recipe for pie crust. Was it an accident? That seems unlikely. How could you accidentally mix flour, fat, and water; wrap it around some fruit; bake it; eat it and say, "Wow, I just invented pie!"?? On the other hand, what would possess you to do such a thing on purpose?? The human mind is capable of such incredible creativity.

Flaky crust for two pies:
In a large bowl. combine 3 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup wheat pastry flour, 2 teaspoons of salt. Cut in 1 cup chilled butter and 3/4 cup vegetable shortening until crumbly.
Whisk together 1 egg, 1/2 cup very cold water and 1tablespoon of cider vinegar. Gradually add to flour mixture, tossing with a fork until the dough forms a ball. Divide into four portions and chill for an hour. Roll out on lightly floured surface when ready to assemble the pies.
Apple Pie Filling:
Peel. core and slice 12-14 apples (about 14 cups). Mix in 1/3 cup sugar, 4 tablespoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Assemble the pie and brush top with milk (gives it the nice golden color) and sprinkle with a bit of sugar (makes it sparkly). Bake for 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F. Reduce oven heat to 350 and bake for 30 to 40 minutes more. The crust should be nicely golden brown and the juice should be bubbling through the vents on top. Cool.
Nutritional information: Do you really want to know? It's fruit. Fruit is good for you.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Upside Down

In July, 2003, we took a trip to New Zealand, touring mostly the south island. From Vermont, it is half way around the world and the exact opposite latitude. It was winter in July, being the southern hemisphere, but the island climate made it a bit more palatable than what I consider winter weather. As with most of our trips, I would do it again. I don't think I'll get a chance to go to New Zealand again though. That I got to do this once in my lifetime fills me with gratitude.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Health Care Reform

The health care reform debate goes on.

One controversy has been around end-of life care. There has been objection and open demonstrations against this as a concept because some people believe that it sets up "death panels" charged with determining when an old person has used up more than his or her share of health care. This was interpreted from President Obama's support of Medicare paying for a doctor to consult with a patient around end of life care. (Something along these lines.)

Now here's the thing...I would expect that my doctor's visits, covered by health insurance, therefore would be covered whether I went for a consult about my cholesterol levels, a case of bunions, or end of life care. I always thought that the doctor-patient relationship was private (although I know insurance generated paperwork renders that a moot point).

When you think about it, insurance just sounds like something evil. I'm paying money on a bet that something catastrophic will happen to me while the insurance company gets to bet on it not happening. Either way I lose something.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Apple Picking

We went to our friends' place to pick some of their apples today. What a spectacular crop they have. This means more apple pie, I fear--not good for the diet that is going nowhere anyway. I guess I don't really have to eat the pie--at least in theory, but let's be realistic. If I bake it, I will eat it. (Sure, the Hollywood movie script writers are lining up at my door.)
I did make some lovely pink apple sauce when we got home, using the recipe from The Joy of Cooking. Now we are eating locally and in season! How trendy are we? I mention this because:
There was a challenge covered in the local paper about eating locally--nothing that was shipped more than a hundred miles. I chose not to participate. Should it come to a law that one must eat locally, we'll just have to move.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Yeah!! Friday!! Tomorrow is Saturday--no alarm morning drive through traffic. And I'm exhausted. All that hands-on learning, much of it in the fresh autumn outdoors' air is active stuff that wears an older body down a bit. I'll be ready come Monday for another go round, though. It's so good to see these "at risk" kids so involved and productive. I really have to rethink the differentiated instruction concept and how it gets carried out. I'll bet this is the first time some of the kids in my group have felt anything close to successful in a school setting. ELEN
So it's no longer "vocational education," but "technical." I'm very brave for doing this because any thing technical is out of my comfort level. I hope that's an example for students...willingness to take risks, life-long learning.