Saturday, January 5, 2013

Winter, 2013

The winter of 2011 could be considered mild. A couple of snowplow days. Cold weather but not frigid. I shoveled the walkways and paths maybe twice a month.

Last winter there was almost no winter in Vermont.  Ray Churchill plowed my "car park" once.  I wore my serious winter coat for a few days here and there. I never raked the roof, and I'm not entirely sure that I ever put the snowshoes on.  I shoveled the walkways and paths maybe twice.

It's amazing how quickly we can forget what winter is like.

There was snow in Vermont the week I was in Annapolis, enough to guarantee a white Christmas, but not enough to worry about.  Then, thoughtfully after my arrival at home, the Big Storm started, and I awoke on December 27 to find close to two feet of snow on the ground. I like shoveling, so I spent a couple of hours moving snow around.

Then it snowed some more.  And on December 29 it snowed a lot more, and there was considerable wind during the day, which blew a healthy amount a snow off the roof. January 2 and 4 it snowed some more. 

And it was COLD.  On Jan 3 the car started (reluctantly) and told me it was -15 degrees.  I haven't seen a low temperature like that in years.  Friday it warmed up to about 25 degrees - a veritable heat wave.  And then the wind started to blow in earnest.

Last night the wind blew and whistled and roared.  It rattled the house. It didn't stop blowing until mid-morning today, and I went out to rake the roof, because it's supposed to warm up next week and the snow will become heavy.

Thank you, wind.  You blocked the driveway but you took a lot of snow off the roof.  I only had to rake the front door overhang, and the roof on the west side over the living room.  I raked a little at the back of the house, where the icicles form just to expose the ice to air.

We have more snow on the ground now than we got all last winter.  This is what winter in Vermont is supposed to be like.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lennie is at it again, with many pictures.

Lennie has learned that to really get my attention he has to be annoying.  The latest annoyance is that he will climb up the dryer rack to pull things down onto the floor, where he leaves them otherwise untouched.  He only does this when I'm on the computer or when I don't get up at 5:30 am (whether the alarm goes off or not.

But first, here's Lennie in his favorite pose in front of the woodstove

Now for last night's episode of Adventures on the Drying Rack .  Sadly, Blogger no longer rotates my pictures, even though I rotated them. I guess the camera is old.  You'll need to click on the pictures and rotate them yourselves.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Oh Lennie, for heaven's sake

It's been quite a Saturday. I had to trim Lennie's claws, and that is a struggle, because he hates it so. But that was later.  Here are the Lennie adventures that led up to it.

This morning I was sitting at my computer desk, which I have to tell you something about.  The desk is a rectangular cube, with a vertical divider under the desk top. The computer tower is on one side, and a shelf on the other has printer paper and some other stuff. The keyboard tray slides between the desktop and the vertical divider, meaning that when I'm using the keyboard there's a lot of empty space behind it.

So there I was typing away, when out of nowhere comes a white paw slapping at my hand. Lennie went into computer desk and discovered that from that cozy shelf space he could see me typing.  When I tried to get him out he moved across the divider onto the computer tower, and it took some poking and prodding to get him OUT.  Oh Lennie, for heavens's sake! This is going to be his favorite game for a while and I will be really glad when he tires of it.

Lennie has also demonstrated that he is a mouse-chaser, but has not learned that mouse-killing is part of the job.  I was awakened Thursday at about 3am by the sounds of cat-chasing-something into my closet. Oh Lennie, for heaven's sake! Since my closet holds clothes, shoes, the laundry basket, Christmas wrap, tote bags, etc. I had a vested interest in getting Lennie and his creature out of the closet.

So I turned on the light and carefully moved the shoes and the laundry basket and one tote - because Lennie was focused on that part of the closet floor, and sure enough, out came the mouse and Lennie was off in hot pursuit, into the living room, where Lennie finally caught the muse and began to carry it around while thinking "What now?"

It was a cold night, but I didn't want the chase in the house to continue, so I opened the porch door.  Lennie lost his grip on the mouse, who, to my eternal gratitude, fell onto the porch. They were off again and I closed the porch door until I got up at the proper time.  Lennie came in quickly to get warm and get his breakfast, but since then he has been focused on getting out to the porch.  I had not made a search for the mouse.  This morning I put away the stuff on the porch that was my attempt at Sandy-proofing.  Didn't see the mouse then either.  I figured he'd been a snack the night Lennie caught him.

This afternoon Lennie went on the porch and soon I heard noises out there. Sure enough, Lennie had found the stone-cold mouse and was having the best time playing with it. I put on a garden glove and tried to distract Lennie from his toy.  Such growling!! Oh Lennie, for heaven's sake!  Lennie retreated under the porch sofa. Since it was his suppertime, I put out the Cat Chow and invited him in. This worked, I headed for the porch, and the mouse was tossed outdoors. But there was Lennie at the porch door, positively wailing, his dinner almost untouched.  So I let him out where he wailed and meowed looking for his toy, and finally came in, ate his dinner, and started again.  So I let him on the porch to continue the futile search until he decided to give it up.

When he came in I decided that since  he was so worked up I might as well do his claws.  Trying it when he's peaceful just rouses him for hours, and here he was already irritated.  I wrapped him in a towel and he struggled and hissed (Oh Lennie, for heaven's sake!) and at one point kept his teeth on one of my thumbs but I told him "NO!" and he did very well at not actually biting.  I don't think he'll ever really cooperate like Ernie did, but I think as time goes on the process will become more manageable.

I'm sure Lennie thinks this has been a horrible day.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Lennie has made The Visit to the vet

Not much change, folks.  Still cheerful, still squeaky-voiced, still ready to chew on you.  "Constructive Discipline" will continue for a while longer, I think.  If the change in Lennie's life made him less inclined to rip and tear (which includes bouncing off walls and climbing door openings) that will be fine with me.

Here are pictures.  It's hard to tell, but he's grown considerably and weighs 7.5 pounds.

I've been trying to keep the toys in a box, but he's less inclined to play with them when he has to get them out of the box.  He prefers that they be lying somewhere for him to pounce on.  His favorite toys are still the pieces of bark and wood that he chews or claws off the indoor wood supply. Daily vacuuming is a necessity.

I do believe, though, that he's grown into his feet and his tail. (Note the cat toy lying on the kitchen floor, waiting to be pounced on.)

Finally, here's a picture of Walter, who's been at the vet long enough that he gets the run of the place until customers start to arrive (then he makes a beeline for the door!).  This cat could obviously be Tyler's first cousin.  For readers who don't know the family cats, Tyler is Tim's cat.  This picture doesn't really show how much Walter and Tyler look alike. They are the same size, have the same shape head, and the same fur colors, although Walter has more color than Tyler does, I think.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lennie is a chip off the old block

What do you do with the stem ends of your asparagus, the ends you break off?  Do you put them in the trash?  In the compost? Not in this house.

I trim the very woody ends off, cook the remainder of the ends, let them cool, and feed them to Lennie.  He loves 'em.  He also likes his salad dressing.  I put the remnants of salad down so he could try it and say "Yuck".  Oh no, not him.  Ernie also liked veggies (broccoli), and his 1/4 tsp of salad dressing, plus his tablespoon of milk at breakfast.  Lennie clearly appreciates this tradition. 

Ernie was a food mooch, and Lennie is just as bad.  I have to shut him in the bathroom at feeding time because he will get under my feet (I'm rather sensitive about this behavior), and as I try to put the dish on the floor he leaps up to knock it out of my hands, so he can get it sooner.

I would put up Lennie pix, but both FB and Blogger have now changed their photo interfaces so that if you have rotated the image the rotation doesn't work.  "Portrait" (vertical longer than horizontal) pix now come out sideways.  I knew FB started this in 2011 but Blogger has only done this the last couple of months.  Anyone know a solution?

Beth, Betsy, Thelma and I took a visit to Cornish, NH today, to visit the St. Gaudens National Historic Site today.  Augustus St. Gaudens' name cam back to prominence in the modern era because he created the Shaw Memorial, which you will recognize if you saw the movie "Glory".  It took St. Gaudens years to complete this. Every soldier's face and rifle is different. Every blanket roll is different.  The soldiers and the angel are in high-relief, but Shaw and the horse are a three-dimensional sculture.

It was a perfect day for a field trip, bright sun and blue skies.  That's Mount Ascutney in the background.

I will send a link to the St. Gaudens pix when I get the pictures up on Facebook.  I took them all in landscape mode and will do some careful photoshopping so they look like portrait when they should.  It's a marvelous place.  Be warned!! If you pay me a visit on a nice day, we are likely to pay that Historic Site another visit!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tunbridge Fair 2012

One of the highlights of the year in this part of Vermont is the Orange County Fair, more widely known as the Tunbridge World’s Fair. This is (I think) the oldest county fair in the state, and it has a checkered past. But that was before our family found Vermont and today Tunbridge Fair is large, well-attended and still focused on agriculture but with a very wide appeal. 

In 2010 I began to volunteer at the fair, as a knitter, sitting by the sheep and goat barn and answering questions like “what are you knitting” and "how do you do that", and about the yarn. This year I volunteered Thursday afternoon and all day Saturday. There were other knitters, and also spinners with their fleeces and wheels, making yarn (they get most of the attention).

One event I try not to miss is the Sheep Dog Trials on Thursday evening. A Border Collie and its handler try to get 3 sheep to go through gates, water and over a bridge and end up in a pen. It’s very hard to do, and each attempt is timed at 4 minutes, so the whole thing usually runs about 90 minutes. The sheep are everything from indifferent ("I would rather eat grain, thank you") to fiercely rebellious ("Don’t you come near me, dog, or I will STOMP you!"). Some dogs get so excited about herding that they forget to pay attention to the handler. Everyone always wants the dog to do well, so there is a lot of audience participation (moans and groans, cheers and applause). I don’t think this helps the dog’s concentration.

This year I persuaded my favorite dance partner to go to the trials with me – he’d never seen them. He said “There are entire afternoons of this?” “Oh yes, at Queechee and a couple of places in New Hampshire.” “Well, it's interesting, but this is long enough for me!” Still, he says he’ll come next year.

At noon on Saturday and Sunday of Fair weekend there is a Cavalcade of Agriculture, a parade that circles the harness racing track, made up of animals large and small. Not many horses, but lots sheep, goats, dairy cows and calves, and oxen. Every animal has to be led,  by adults, teens, and kids, including some little kids. This year the parade lineup started near the sheep barn: sheep, goats and dairy on one side, the ox pairs and singles on the other. We didn’t need to move. We sat in our chairs and watched the animals come by. Very close by.

There are stage shows, a midway, non-stop Bingo games, animal barns (cattle, oxen, sheep, goats, poultry, rabbits, horses). There are judged horse and livestock shows, and horse pulling, pony pulling and ox pulling. There are exhibits of all sorts from heavy equipment and solar energy vendors, to Antiques Hill, where age-old arts and crafts are demonstrated, antique tools are on display, and ancient steam-driven machines puff and blow. 

In the Dodge-Gilman building you find the judged cakes, muffins, jams, jellies, relishes, fruits and vegetables. You can learn about Christmas tree growing and bee-keeping.  You get to admire the largest pumpkin, which this year weighed in at 650 pounds.  Technically, it is no longer a pumpkin. It is a pumpkin-squash cross.  Nowadays there are special seeds for growing giant pumpkins.

There is Fair Food, most of which is very bad for you. Sausage/peppers/onion on a roll. Burgers and corn dogs. Apple crisp with ice cream. Fried whatever-you-want,  including fried dough, the charm of which I will never understand.  Yes, donuts are often fried.  But fried dough is not a donut.   Starting last year, you could find the occasional smoothie vendor (a poor second to smoothie stands in airports), and this year you could get made-to-order vegetable crepes, Vietnamese food, and (my favorite) a pulled-pork quesadilla that was so juicy it required two paper plates and far more paper napkins than I took with me.

Not the least of the exhibits are the craft exhibits and flower arrangements in Floral Hall. The Junior Section is for kids under 16 (although most of the entries are from kids age 14 and younger). This year the Vegetable Costume Class had some wonderful entries.

I was happy that friends from work, my neighbors the Flints, and people from the Montpelier contradance stopped to say hello. Actually, it was more like “Hello!! What a surprise to see you here!” I really had a good time.

Want to see more Fair pictures?



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I hate politics, especially this year

I have not been encouraged about American politics for many years, and I have been disgusted with American politics for the better part of four years.  The President's leadership has left a great deal to be desired, and his failure as a political leader is even greater.  Then there are the Republicans, who no doubt have Lincoln spinning in his grave.

I didn't think I'd be paying any attention to the conventions, because neither Obama nor Romney are worth writing home about.  But speeches have been getting my attention.

Condoleeza Rice gave an incredibly statesmanlike Republican Convention speech. Who'd a thunk it?

From the Democrats, here are the things that have caught my ear. You probably heard them, too.

Ted Strickland: Mitt Romney never saw the point of building something when he could profit from tearing it down.  If Mitt was Santa Claus, he'd fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.

Lily Ledbetter: Women still earn just 77 cents for every dollar men make. Those pennies add up to real money … when we lose 23 cents every hour, every day, every paycheck, every job, over our entire lives, what we lose can't just be measured in dollars.

Gov. Duval Patrick: [Barack Obama] is the president who ended "don't ask, don't tell" so that love of country, not love of another, determines fitness for military service.

Cecile Richards: Women are no longer pre-existing conditions.

For some reason I recalled the late Ted Kennedy's 1980 speech, given right after he lost the nomination to Jimmy Carter. Remove the specific Reagan references, and the references to inflation, and this is a speech that could be given today, 32 years later.  And probably should be.  Take a listen. I can't find a video of the entire speech, but the text and audio link is here.

This year's speech-writers and speakers want Americans to believe that what they say will make a difference.  But Congress is still full of no-compromise Republicans and no-backbone Democrats.