Post #631 A Dreary Day in Paradise

March 31, 2019 at 3:39 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Well, at least in Vermont, anyway.  All week long, the weather reports were calling for rain on Saturday and sun on Sunday.  So, we got sun on Saturday, and rain on Sunday.  But what are you gonna do?  Our Saturday was already full of errands and chores, so we just kept our schedules as we’d set them out.  So what do you do in paradise on a rainy Sunday?  Let me tell you.

First, we slept late . . . for us.  We slept until 7:30am.  Even Buddy was lazy this morning.  Then we had a leisurely breakfast of cherry turnovers.  So yummy, but I will admit that they were frozen Pepperidge Farm turnovers.  I haven’t made homemade turnovers in a very long time.

We had talked about going to a general store that was known for its bakery and butchery, but I said I wanted to go hiking, and to a welcome center to pick up brochures.  And we both wanted to be home during the afternoon to relax and get geared up for the upcoming week.  So how did we resolve the “crisis”?

We did all of it, of course.  After breakfast was over, we watched a television program to let breakfast settle then about 9:30am we headed out, with the dog.

We both grew up out west where distances are greater than here.  And we’ve spent many years living on or near the 95 corridor on the East coast so we’re automatically thinking traffic.  Neither of those issues is relevant here.  Particularly on a Sunday morning when if you find something open, it’s a major surprise.  Remember last weekend where we had a 45 minute drive to find the only open hair cut place?  I wasn’t kidding or exaggerating.

So, I hopped onto the computer and into the Explorer’s Guide to find an easy trail for us to hike.  I found the North Branch Nature Center, which, since it was Sunday, wasn’t open.  But, it has 24/7 trail access so we headed there.  And it was raining.  Not hard, but more than a drizzle.  And it was coming straight down.  No breeze.  So even though it was raining, it was fairly warm.  Or else we’re getting used to the weather here.

As luck would have it, we saw signs for a visitor’s center on the way to the nature center.  And as we went by, we saw that it was open.  On a Sunday morning around 10.  Boom.  Into the parking lot, and into the building.  We had a nice chat with the lady running the place today and grabbed massive quantities of brochures hanging around.  My thought is it’s always easier to find fun events and activities by what’s being sold to tourists.  Brochures are perfect for that.  It really was fun wandering through the various rooms.  The lady told us that all the products for sale were Made in Vermont and switched out every few weeks.  So we’ll probably hit it up once a month or so to see what’s there.

We told her we were headed to the nature center to check out the trails and she was very encouraging about that.  The visitor’s center didn’t have anything on trails or hiking but she did suggest we go online to look up a couple of the trail clubs.  From my previous experience with the Appalachian Trail in VA, I knew the primary trail club in the area was the Long Trail club and the Green Mountains club.  So, good info there.

We headed out to the nature center which turned out to be about five minutes away.  The North Branch Nature Center is located on the north branch of the Winooski River.  It’s fairly small, just 28 acres, but does a major effort at teaching and community outreach.  We got us all out of the car, and immediately remembered A) that is was still raining, and B) it was the start of the mud season.  Everything in the parking lot was squishy.  And everything was still covered in snow.  It wasn’t cold, so there was a mist rising from the snow as it melted that lent a lonely and isolated feeling to the place.  There were only two other cars in the lot, so we didn’t figure we were going to run into anyone else.

I wanted to see the river so we chose a path that seemed to go towards it.  The snow on the path was beaten down and firm, but slippery at times.  The snow off the path was deep, slushy, and cold.  For the first time since I was 9 years old, I got snow inside my shoes.  After that, I stayed on the path.  Buddy wasn’t so lucky.  He wanted to explore and sniff to the full extent of his retractable leash and often found himself up to his stomach in snow and floundering, unable to get his footing.  One time, he lifted his leg to pee, and his front legs sank up to his face.  So he was struggling to get his face out of the snow, keep his leg lifted, and pee at the same time.  He managed it, though.

Just as we came over a slight hill, we noticed a gentleman X-country skiing towards us.  I wanted to step off the trail (it’s multi-use so we had every right to be there), but I didn’t want to sink up to my knees.  We were already pretty wet so we just stopped and left him as much room as we could.  He chose a different path so he went by us instead of on top of us.

I’d love to say that we chatted about the nature center, skiing, the trails, and the snow, but he was tired from a long morning of skiing and heading home so he simply nodded at us and smiled as we greeted him.  He gave us a quick explanation saying “Heading home guys” and he was gone.

We walked to a bridge so we could see the river.  With all the snow, that water looked COLD!!  The rain had gotten a little heavier, so decided to head back to the car.  Overall, we hiked in the snow for about a mile and a quarter.  But when you’re sixty-odd years old and haven’t hiked in snow for a LONG time, it can be wearying.

Back at the car as we warmed up, Partner/Spouse suggested that try finding the general store since it was still early.  He plugged the address into his phone and off we went.

Over a mountain.

On a dirt road.

When it would have been easier to just go back the way we came.

Sometimes I hate GPS.

But we found the store.  It’s next to a covered bridge.

In the next picture of the store from their web site, you can see it on the right.

So, in this state general stores are “big business”.  They tend to be very popular and are designed in the old tradition of selling a little bit of everything.  This one has a bakery that pulls people in from all over.  They have a deli, and a butcher counter, but I doubt that we’ll be using it much.  Their selection today was minimal, but I don’t know if that’s normal or not.  Today, the place was crowded because there were other people there.  They have some tables where people can eat but those tables are in the way if you’re trying to shop.  And the folks at the tables today were clueless about being in the way.  I was as polite as I could when I asked to slide by, but one lady (I use the term loosely) was less than thrilled that I interrupted her breakfast.

The bakery counter was only about 8 feet long, but was packed with goodies.  Partner/Spouse got himself a few cookies, and I got a piece of chocolate raspberry cake.

Doesn’t that look good?  I can’t wait till dinner is over tonight.  Tonight is simple salad and grilled animal flesh.  Chicken maybe, or pork chop.

Even with all that, we were home well before noon.  Buddy got a couple of dog treats and hit his bed and has been sleeping ever since.  We each made lunch for ourselves (reheated shepherd’s pie for him; crackers and cheese and salami for me) and put the new Mary Poppins on the tube.  He snoozed and I worked and it was a fun day.

I promise at some point I will share a recipe or two.  Yesterday I made chocolate chip cookies, but realized way too late that I had no baking soda.  I used about half the amount of baking powder because I didn’t have time to research a substitute.  They turned out okay.  I discovered that if I hit cancel for the timer, it turns the oven off.  Ooops, but I figured the cookies were not going to be my best anyway, so I just turned the oven back and guessed when they were done.  Not too bad.

Well, that’s this week in Vermont.  More coming up!  Next weekend we’re going to a Made in Vermont fair.  Can’t wait!

As always,

Post #631 Upcoming Events

March 27, 2019 at 11:04 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

So, we’ve been here almost two weeks.  All the boxes are unpacked; today they collect the trash for the first time; today the final appliance is being installed (with luck); and the dog and I have settled into a routine for his bathroom breaks.  The next goal is to achieve employment, and all will be well and good.  Last week, Partner/Spouse bought a couple of books from a book sale at the hospital taking place just outside his office door (I know.  A terrible torture.), both of them about the state we now live in.  The first is a gardening book which will help when I start planting things.  The second is an exploration guide to our state.

I wish I had one of these books for every state we’ve lived in.  It’s great.

Over the weekend, despite the snowy weather, we decided to do some exploring based on our previous jaunts into this state and internet searches.  Also, I needed a haircut and there was only one place open on a Sunday in this state and it was in the “big town” about 40 minutes from here.  Just as an aside, we live about a mile outside the state capital which holds the distinction of being the smallest in area and population density of all state capitals in the country.  It’s about 8000 people strong.  The other “big town” is a decent size at around 40,000 which is about the size of the town I grew up in (in the winter.)  Just some fun facts about where we are and some of the challenges we’re going to face being here.

So, it was Sunday when we decided to head out to the Big Town, and because the Hair Cuttery opens at 9 and we didn’t want to wait, we left here about 8.  It’s only a 45 minute drive, but with the snow and all, we showed up about five minutes before they opened.  I was the first one in, but had to wait about ten minutes because their phone wouldn’t stop ringing.  Got a good haircut and plenty of chuckles and I’ll likely go back, but we had a half hour to kill before the next stop:  an antique store!  Yay!

This one was recommended by a colleague of his, so we drove a few blocks and found the place, then started scouting for a diner to get breakfast.  Not an easy task despite checking our phones.  But we found one area that we’d been to before, a walking/shopping area near the university so we parked and wandered.  And wandered.  Then we strolled.  Then went back to wandering, and finally found a bagel shop that was open and got bagel sandwiches for breakfast.  They were really good.  I’m sure we’ll be back there again.  Toasted and crunchy and bacon-y, and yummy.

The antique store was small, smaller than we like, but it held a wide variety of things.  Right now we’re looking for a dresser for him that fits well into the bedroom.  I have an idea of what I want, and, of course, he has an idea of what he wants.  Since it will be for him, I’ll defer to him except where weight is concerned.  If we’re going to be the ones to haul it around, that sucker has to be light.  But we didn’t see anything that impressed either of us.


Right next door was a used book store.  Outside, in a small vestibule, were stacks of books FOR FREE!!  Actually, they were free, but for donations.  We grabbed about ten, all ones that we had been looking for.  Inside, it was nirvana.  A huge warehouse with stacks and stacks and shelves and boxes of pure temptation and fun.  We got another ten.  And didn’t spend a whole lot, either.  I was unimpressed with his prices.  It was goofy.  Some things that were worth a bit, were priced below $5.  Other things were at prices I wouldn’t have paid if they were new.  We did pick up Julia Child’s classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking first edition for a steal.  I also got a couple of books on writing, and one on forensic archaeology.  The owner tried to engage us in small talk as we were checking out, but we were ready to be gone.  It was close to noon and we had one more stop to make.

So, I’ve got plenty of ready to fill my days as I wait for things to arrive and get installed.  The washer/dryer is here and in constant use, it seems like.  Today, the fridge is due (any time now).  And I’ve been working my way through the Explorer’s Guide.  Tell you what, it’s got things in there I never would have thought to think about.  So, here’s some of the highlights you can look forward to hearing about as we accomplish them.

King Arthur Flour Co is about a half hour away.  They offer classes and tours and have an on-site store.  No more catalogs for us.

Ben and Jerry’s is close by and although neither of us is driven by the need for ice cream, we will be visiting.

There’s a chocolate factory about an hour away that offers tours and chocolate tastings, and has a store.  Guess we’ll be getting the frequent buyer discount after our second trip.

Diners in this state are a well-loved institution.  The first book we bought when we got here was The Classic Diners.  These are diners that were converted from the dining/club cars of the railroads.  It’s going to be challenging to get into them, but we’re going to check each one off as we try them.  And you guys will get to hear all about them.

Farms abound in this state, actually, in this area, and they all seem to welcome visitors.  Many of them allow people to pay to stay and experience farm life.  When we do, so will you.

Farmer’s Markets are big business here.  The state capital has one of the biggest and best known.  We’ll be frequent visitors there.  I can’t wait for them to start up again.  Some go all year round; they just move indoors and change their product to what is available.

We have a small back yard now, and there’s a perfect spot for setting up a grill and table, as well as place for a vegetable garden.  I’ll be getting that ready as soon as the ground thaws and dries out.  The snow is melting, and we are entering what is known hearabouts as “the mud season.”  For those who’ve read my novel and remember those scenes, it’s a real live thing.  I wasn’t making it up.  From mid-March, to the end of April (roughly), the area is dominated by mud due to rain and snow melt.  When I was a kid, my mom used to get so irritated by the amount of dirt we’d track in.  Even in the short time we’ve been here I’ve washed the floors twice, and have to sweep nearly every day to keep ahead of the dirt.  But, as the garden flourishes, you guys will get to read about Farmer Joe and his crop.  Mmmm, home grown tomatoes.

I hope that whets your appetite for the blog and what’s coming in the weeks ahead.  I’ll still be sharing the funnier moments of what happens in life and the kitchen; I’ll still be teaching techniques as I learn and perfect them; I’ll still be sharing recipes.  And if there’s any questions you have about anything in the cooking world, don’t hesitate to ask.  If I don’t know the answer, I’ll make one up!

As always,

Post #630 What the Heck Happened Here?

March 20, 2019 at 7:11 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I know you’re wondering what’s happened since the last post was nearly a month ago.  So much has gone on, it’s hard to know where to start.  A wise man once said it’s best to start at the beginning but I don’t want to go back over sixty years, or three million, so I’ll start with the last post.

It really started one day in the store.  I was working register and front of store and it was fairly early in the day, around 10:30am.  It had been steady but not busy and I was getting a lot done while making certain no one had to wait very long for a register.  A woman came up to the counter coughing into the crook of her elbow.  I commiserated with her and she told me that she had a terrible cold, had been sent home from work so she wouldn’t infect anyone, and needed these books to read during her down time at home.  I stared at her thinking, great, so infecting everyone in this bookstore sounded like a good idea to you, then?

I really took care of myself, but my doctor gave me the pneumonia shot cuz of my age.  That put me down for a day or so, which apparently was enough for this “cold” to take hold of me.  I was sick for weeks.  At one point, I couldn’t even hold down water.  Wracked with fever and chills, coughing my lungs out, sore and achy, sleeping for hours.  Not a happy time.

Then, during all this, Partner/Spouse accepted a position with another company in an area that we’ve been trying to get to for several years.  So we had to move, and we had about two and a half weeks to do it.  So while I was sick, we made a couple of trips to Vermont!!  We found a house that we fell in love with and put in an application for it.  We’re renting, as we usually do, since we don’t know the area.  The house is small, just six rooms, two bathrooms, and three of the rooms are bedrooms.  It’s two floors, plus an unfinished basement that we can store things in.  The house was built in 1902, so it has a history, and it has some very antique-y features.  No a/c is the most antique-y feature, yay.  But we’re on top of a mountain here, so it isn’t really going to get very warm, and fans should take care of things.  There’s a ceiling fan in every room.  We have the “master” bedroom (meaning it’s the biggest), then a guest bedroom, and another bedroom that we’re using as an office.  It’s on a 1/3 acre lot so there’s a small front yard, and a decent back yard.  I’m going to have a vegetable garden again!

Here’s some pics.  We moved in on the 16th, so things are still a little disorganized.  Look beyond the mess, okay?

This is the front, obviously.  We finally got our front porch.  I can’t wait until the weather gets nice enough to sit out in the evening with a glass of wine, chatting with the neighbors walking by.  Our bedroom is the window on the left; the office is the window on the right.  That’s a lilac bush on the right, so I need to read up on how to make it work with the house and porch and yard.

It didn’t take us long to put seating on the porch, either.  That window is the living room.

When you walk in the front door, there’s the stair up.  Narrow and steep, and a little scary.  The hallway goes back to the kitchen.  The boxes go to the trash.  I’ve already broken them up.

To the right of the front door is the living room.  Our stuff fit perfectly.  We’re using the small TV for now.  The couch is up against the window, and you can see the first of the multiple ceiling fans.

Here’s the kitchen and it’s wide open.  We had the table in the center for a couple of days, but it really was too large for the space and got in the way.  On the right is a built in to hold all the wine glasses upside down, and holds all the rest of our dishes and glasses o the shelves.  The fridge doesn’t work, so we’re getting a new one next week.  The property manager is buying it.  No dishwasher except my own two hands.  So sad.

Two more views of the kitchen.  We had put our chest freezer in that corner where the table is for a few days, but it made more sense to relocate it.

Two views of the space we’re calling the laundry room.  When you enter through the kitchen, the washer/dryer is on the right.  Those curtains are another “powder room” with no doors.  So we’re relocating the doors leading into this room onto the powder room.  The chest freezer is on the left side of the room, along with the dorm fridge we got to get us through to the new fridge deliver.  Our metal shelves hold most of the stuff we might have put in the basement, but the basement is really awkward.

The is the master bedroom.  All the upper floor rooms has the slanted ceilings.  They’re kind of nice.  Please ignore the mess.

This is one view of the office/bedroom.  The built-ins are actually a desk.  We’re not using it that way, though.

The upper floor “hallway” which is really just a small area where all the other rooms open to.  That big white thing is the central heat that flows up from the lower floor.  The upper floor is fairly chilly, but our bedding is incredibly warm so it’s not terrible.  You can see the wire conduit on the wall to bring in electricity when it became available after 1902.

And finally, this is just to show the steepness of the stairs.

Overall, it’s a great house, and we got a great deal on it.  There’s some work to be done, that we can do over time, but we’re willing to do it.  We have an absentee landlord, so the management company takes care of everything.

It’s a small town.  We LOVE small towns.  The hospital is a six minute drive away.  Job potential for me is in walking distance.  Buddy has already gotten used to where he wants to poop every morning.  The neighbors have all introduced themselves and welcomed us to the area.  And we’ve only been here five days!

Around the corner and within walking distance is an Irish pub that we had dinner at the day we arrived, the 15th.  I had fish and chips and he had a pastrami sandwich.  I had a glass of wine and the pour looked like a half bottle!  It was loud but fun, and everyone was friendly.

We’ve found a couple of great diners.  One we’ve been to multiple times.  I read about them today, and they were started the same time our house was built!  They are committed to farm to table and living green.  The first time we were there, we were waiting for a few minutes and a young lady and her mom were looking for someone in the diner.  They were so funny, I started teasing them.  By the time they were done, we were inviting them to join us if they didn’t find their friend.  I had a ham steak and eggs breakfast.  The ham was amazing!  The second time we were there, a family was sitting across the aisle from us and started including us in their conversation.

One diner we were at when we were looking was a “hippie” style establishment.  But they had wonderful food.  I was still not feeling well at that time, so I had just a glass of orange juice, toast, and bacon.  I call that the Joe Breakfast, and it was delicious.

We’ve ordered in for dinner once and got an AMAZING pizza.  So good.  And I’ve cooked twice!  The first time was ham and scrambled eggs.  Tonight was spaghetti.  We’re settling in pretty quickly.  Even the snow is cooperating.

So, now you’re all up to speed.  On the weekend, I’ll update you with plans for the upcoming Spring.

As always,

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