Forced bulbs made great gifts for the family in '09
There's a reason they call it "Old Man Winter." Winter is not a chipper young lady, or a suave, middle-aged bachelor. Winter is a nagging, complaining, angry old guy, who lives in a group home and makes the nurses' lives miserable. When you wish him a good morning, he snaps back "these eggs are cold." When you offer him some new eggs, he complains that you are wasteful. His kids have stopped visiting, his doctor avoids him, and even his cat prefers the lap of strangers.

Whenever I tell people I am "new" to Vermont, they ask if I've lived through a winter yet. It seems this is some sort of litmus test. This is a Vermonter's way of saying "If you've endured five months of single-digit (on a good day) thermometer reads and lived to tell about it, you may just make it here, kid." I survived last winter, my first in Vermont. It was tough. Really tough. It was cold, and long, and dark. I am told, by Vermont standards, it was an unusually mild season.

Real Vermonters love winter. Real Vermonters cheer when the first frost comes and kills off the hold-out summer perrenials. They race to the dealership to change into their snow tires and count down the days until they can strap on their snow shoes. They plan sledding parties and daydream about running barefoot through snow banks, into a hot sauna. Deep down, I have to wonder if they are just talking themselves into liking it. But if they are in fact faking, it's an Emmy-worthy performance, because the conviction in their voices runs deeper than a mid-January snow-drift.

It's nearly November, and the cold weather is creeping in. A friend recently asked me how I was going to plan to enjoy winter this year. She is one of those people who knows how to ask helpful questions, rather than allowing me to wallow.  And she does it in such a way that I don't even realize she is helping me steer my thoughts in a positive direction until much later on, when I am already feeling better. At her suggestion, I've made a list of things I am excited about for winter. I also pulled some favorite photos from last winter to remind me about the fun to be had. And actually, as I look at this list, I do feel excited. There are so many fun things to do, and they are totally dependent on the cold weather. Maybe the real Vermonters are not faking it after all.
Winter 2009: Potluck Party & Beers by the Bonfire

Reasons to be excited about winter

1. Hot chocolate with Kahlua

2. Baking...the house fills with yummy aromas you can even smell on the second floor. And the oven warms up the whole house. And R comes and sits by me in the kitchen, rocking in the old wooden rocker I bought at a thrift store, stealing bites of cookies as soon as I pull them out of the oven.

3. Firing up our new wood stove and spending nights in with a glass of wine while enjoying the glow and chatting about the future.

4. Wool socks

5. Coming home from work to a blazing hot sauna, which R has kindled to the perfect temperature.

6. Waking up to a find the world was transformed by a blanket of white snow while we were sleeping.

Root Veggies

7. Potluck dinner parties, with cheesy casseroles and potato-based dishes galore.

8. Ski days on the mountain. Snuggling with R on the chair lift.

9. A perfect excuse to stay indoors and write the day away

10. Five whole months to collect seed catalogs and plan next year's garden.

11. Mid-winter beach vacations!

Sleigh Ride in Stowe 

12. Forcing bulbs

13. Cooking with root vegetables

14. Little kids in snowsuits

15. Bonfires

16. Sleigh rides

17. Christmas, New Year's, Valentines Day

18. The perfect weather to start a sewing project

19. Sweaters and snow boots

20. The promise of spring


Love notes

R gets up at 4 am most weekdays (and 3am when he works weekends) to start the day at the barn.  If his morning is not too busy,  he's back home for breakfast and I see him before I leave for work. So most days we  get a chance to say good morning and drink our coffee together. Recently I found this pretty little impatien blossom sitting on my steering column, waiting for me to hop in the car and set out for my day.


Montreal...oooh la la!

I love Vermont, but some days I miss NJ and all its charm (yes, NJ is charming!! Ignore what you see on TV!). I miss the big things, like the access to NYC culture, and the racial/ethnic diversity, and my friends, and the job opportunities. But maybe even more than that, I miss the little things like name-brand-fashion-at-rock-bottom-prices, and cruising through the city in a taxi cab, and being able to give my mom a hug whenever I feel like it.

So "discovering" Montreal was a real thrill. Because they have an H&M, and loads of awesome eateries, and PEOPLE WHO SPEAK FRENCH!


Reasons for not writing

I am having trouble writing today, so I decided to write about all the reasons I can't goes...

Reasons for not writing:

I was told at a young age that I was good at it. It seems like one of my most natural talents. And what if I finally do take the time to focus on it, and I am not successful? What if I run out of excuses – no time, no money in it—and actually do write, and it goes nowhere. I am afraid that it will turn out to be an empty promise, like an old lover on the back burner who actually doesn’t think of you at all these days. And you get all dressed up, and wear makeup, and meet for lunch, only to find out he is gay.


The Bees Knees

When I was a little girl, my dad kept bees, and I was bestowed the honor of serving as assistant bee keeper. Nearly thirty years later, I have found that, unlike riding a bike, you can forget nearly everything about apiculture. Which is why I have enrolled in a bee keeping course. Last night was my first class and (wow!) bees are so cool! I am hoping to study up this fall and start a hive in the spring time. Stay tuned for more updates about my apiary adventures...


Fall on the Farm

 It's Pumpkin Season! R's mom opens the corn (farm) stand back up again this time of year and does a fantastic job setting the stage for the perfect autumnal afternoon for patrons. It's totally gorgeous...picturesque...perfect. In fact, it is not unusual (although I would argue it's a tad tacky) for people to jump out of the car and snap some family photos at the pumpkin stand without even making a purchase. Here's a few favorite fall photos. If you are wondering who made those very handsome scarecrows...(ahem!) it was yours truly.


Shenpa (Getting Unstuck)

Stuck...but not for long
I was born with ants in my pants.  My two speeds are "on" and "off," which basically means if I am not racing around from place to place (or thought to thought), I am asleep.  Meditation appeals to me in theory, but in practice... let's just say it is not my strong suit. Which is why it is perhaps unlikely that I should be so attracted to the teachings of a Buddhist nun.

Nonetheless, Pema Chodron has seen me through some of my darkest days.  So many mornings, when I could barely find the strength to get out of bed, I'd play her audio books as I sat in traffic.


A Formal Goodbye to my Garden of 2010

As we get older, the passage of summer into fall becomes more subtle. Without a new Trapperkeeper or homeroom assignment to mark the changing seasons, the transitions are a bit more blurred. With autumn upon us, I am looking forward to cooler days and the changing foliage. But I am already beginning to dread the first frost, and the havoc it will inevitably bestow on my garden.

For quite some time, I've had a Little House on the Prairie-esque ambition to cook meals using ingredients picked right in my back yard, and this summer I finally made it happen. This year's garden was a phenom. I had a lot of advantages, for sure. Full-day sunshine, a handsome and strapping sidekick, industrial grade farm equipment, and plenty of organic material (i.e. well-aged cow manure) really do give a gal a leg-up in the gardening game. We ate out of the garden all summer, and thanks to a few long afternoons spent standing over a simmering stove top, there will be plenty of tomato soup, squash soup, and home-made pasta sauce to enjoy through out the winter. As the days grow shorter, I know my opportunities to run out back and grab a handful of fresh herbs to flavor supper are nearing an end.  Beginning with the late-spring "groundbreaking," right up til the full-bloom of August, below is a small photographic tribute to my 2010 garden. Each day it looks a bit more haggard, but here are some photos of the plot in all it's blazing glory. Only 8 months to go until we start again for 2011. I'll have to console myself with dog-eared seed catalogs until then.

Hunky sidekick readies the bed (sounds suggestive, but totally innocent!)

I used every windowsill I had to start seeds inside 

Gotta start with straight rows!

Watering the thirsty babies!

Lookin' good!