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Illumination of the Earth by the Sun on the da...
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Today marks the day that day and night are roughly equal in length. It is the vernal equinox, where the sun was directly over the equator. The result is that the length of time that we are exposed to daylight and then night are equal, or roughly equal, in length. The actual equinox, where the sun is directly over the equator will occur at 1:32 p.m. here in the Eastern Daylight zone.

There is a rumor that during the vernal equinox you can stand an egg on end, however, that has pretty much been disproven, since with time and patience, one can stand an egg on end at any time during the year, not just during the equinox. There is evidently no special gravity present during this time that would account for an egg’s ability to stand on end … or dance… or do anything special.

Vernal equinox marks the first day of spring. A rebirth of the earth, a time that Mother Nature shakes off winter like a bear coming out of hibernation and shrugging off the sleepiness of winter.

There are many different celebrations and many of the holidays that we know are set around the equinox. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox.

World Storytelling Day, preserving the art of oral storytelling is celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox or March 20th this year. It is celebrated all over the world on this day and originated in Sweden in 1991. It is a day to tell stories and promote the art of storytelling, one of the most ancient of all art forms. Go ahead, share some stories today – Happy Spring! (By the way, we STILL have snow here.)

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Photograph taken by Jared C. Benedict via Wikipedia

There are a variety of greetings out there. Some are dependent upon nationality of those involved or age or in our case, geographic location. See, there’s this time of year here in Vermont called Mud Season. It’s between the end of winter and spring. The ground generally gets so frozen deep down that you get frost heaves (another post all together) but as the snow melts and the ground has yet to become unfrozen, the water wells up on top with nowhere to go and turns all our dirt roads (of which there are many) to mud. A greeting you will commonly hear when someone is coming to your house is “How’s the road?” An odd question to ask someone, or to start a conversation with, but you see, us folks up here in the land of eternal winter (and yes, for those of you asking even despite almost 60 degree temperatures for the past three days, we still have snow) know that when the sap starts flowing, Mud Season is usually upon us. Anyone traveling to your house will undoubtedly need to know the condition of your road. It is not uncommon to also ask “Do you have 4 wheel drive?” If the answer to that question is “no”, chances are, you’re probably not visiting. It is not unforeseen that your vehicle (even if it is equipped with 4 wheel drive) might find itself buried halfway up the wheels in mud. There are warnings placed on the commonly trafficked and hardest hit by mud roads, warning heavy vehicles or those over a certain weigh load to steer clear, way clear until after mud season ends… or deal with the consequences.

Today we had a delivery truck coming to our house (as my friend Patty from Where Did the Time Go? blog wonderfully puts it, we were under delivery house arrest) and the first question out of their mouth when calling to give us a time frame was “how’s the road?” When they arrived the driver related to us that only days earlier they had been stuck up to their box truck tires in mud unable to get out. Not a fun way to spend the day, I am sure.

Mud Season does have its own amusement since a common thing for teenagers and college kids to do is pile into a car or truck and find the worst dirt road and drive until they get stuck and then push their way out, kind of like Vermont mudwrestling I imagine. Aside from getting stuck in the mud, it’s actually like a really cool roller coaster ride, since there are ruts, like ruts from hell, and when your vehicle is drawn to them (and it will be drawn to them) you get pulled in like when the car on the roller coaster track clicks into place — and you’re off…going wherever the road takes you.

There’s also another really cool thing about Mud Season when you live in Vermont – you know who really loves you. As my husband likes to say: Everyone wants to visit Vermont, but the people that come during Mud Season, they really love you, because there is nothing to do here then, nothing to see – unless of course you like pushing your car out of the mud.

So….how’s your road? Ours, well its pretty muddy.

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Today is Pi Day, the day that is the celebration of the mathematical constant pi ∏. March 14 or 3.14 celebrates the irrational number 3.1415926 (taken only to its 7th decimal place). Some interesting facts:

  • The world’s leading technological college, Massachusetts Institute of Technology releases its admissions for its incoming class on 3/14 at 1:59 p.m.
  • Today is also the birth of Albert Einstein.
  • The number ∏ forms the basis of numerous contests to see how many digits of pi a person can memorize – the number pi is an irrational number meaning that it has an infinity of digits.
  • A computer in Tokyo holds the record for calculating out the digits of pi – it calculated out 206,158,430,000
  • If you used a code that exchanged numbers for letters, Pi would contain the entire Bible, the complete works of Shakespeare if you looked at enough of the digits of Pi.

People celebrate Pi Day in a variety of ways…..eating pie and making pie are usually tops on the list. Walking in circles is another, albeit a little more odd.

However you celebrate, perhaps eating pie while walking in circles…..enjoy!

Well, I did it. I finally caved and joined Facebook. While I could live vicariously through Tom as it pertained to friends and family – I just couldn’t hold out any longer after the boys were allowed to join. Mom nosey-ness overruled my steadfast refusal to join another social media thing. Much like many of the other things in my life that I just couldn’t imagine doing without kids, this is one of them. In my logic, I am on Twitter, I have this blog and I also have a job (okay – many different little jobs which actually pay for me to use my time on the computer) so I didn’t see the need for one… more… thing. I guess that I was wrong.

Kids, they’ll get you to do the darndest things.

Storage containers, bottles and cups for expre...
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I recently read about a New York City chef who began crafting cheese from his wife’s breast milk following the birth of their child. Where to begin? First, what a publicity stunt for his restaurant. In the past few days, the news has been replete with coverage of this from local foodie blogs to the BBC. There is some talk that he has been serving this cheese at his restaurant which is clearly not possible, at least legally, since breast milk would not be approved by the health department – I know that we are talking about New York City, but still, I seriously doubt that the powers that be would permit such a thing. He claimed that he made it for he and his wife’s own consumption and then made it for some family members and friends at their request.

Second, having made cheese (not from breast milk, mind you) I know that it requires a whole lot of milk to produce a small amount of cheese. Delicious, homemade cheese, but still a lot of milk. Also having nursed my own children I am familiar with the amount of breast milk output from the average person. Yes, you can pump and store, which is where he claims to have gotten his milk (excess breast milk) but still, that is a whole lot of breast milk to be producing cheese for yourself, your family and friends. Does this poor chef have a wife or a milk producing machine? The poor child, is the poor thing’s milk supply being squeezed out for 15 minutes of fame for chef dad?

The whole thing doesn’t sit well with me, not even going into the whole contention of people who would go “ewwww, breast milk?” and have issues with it because the milk comes from a human as opposed to a cow, ewe or goat. I think it is an up and coming chef’s attempt to gain his 15 minutes of fame and promote his own restaurant. Knowing the way that people are, I just bet that the phone is ringing off the hook there right now.

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You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And

Oh, the Places You'll Go! 1
Image by ForestForTrees via Flickr

YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”  ~ Dr. Seuss (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)

Suess Landing at Universal Studios' Islands of...
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Today is the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Theodor Seuss Geisel, one of the world’s best known authors. I don’t know that there are many people who don’t know Dr. Seuss, especially if you have children or were a child at some point yourself. The books are plentiful, the rhymes magnificent, the lessons that they teach worthwhile. Some of my fondest memories with the boys are the hours and hours of reading the same Dr. Seuss books over and over and over again. I can still pretty much repeat Go, Dog, Go one of their favorites from memory and they are teenagers now. The pages on that book were well worn. Our collection of Seuss books was extensive and of course included the favorites Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. Recently, about a couple months ago, we were the doctor’s office and my oldest who will be 15 in a few weeks, picked up and read Green Eggs and Ham. Aloud no less in the middle of the doctor’s office with a small girl and her mother sitting near us. When I gave him the look, he just said “You have to read Dr. Seuss out loud”. You know what, I think that he is right. There is something to the melodic rhyme that is soothing and funny all wrapped into one.

I remember when we went to Universal Studios, I don’t remember who was more excited to go to Seussland, me or the boys. The bookstore there was incredible, it was like falling into Seuss heaven. I could still be there, and that was ten years ago.

I think that this is my favorite Dr. Seuss quote:

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

March 2nd, Dr. Seuss’ birthday, has been declared Read Across America Day. Pick up a book, today and read.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

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Drumroll……………..Today marks the day that the blog hits surpass 20,000.  The site counter rolled past 20,000 hits or visits during the day today. Thanks! I would have never guessed that something I started a few years ago to chronicle our moving to Vermont and as a “therapeutic” outlet would have acquired such a following.  Were it not for the blog, there are some of you that I wouldn’t have befriended and that just would have been a shame.

It is snowing like it means it outside once again. There was a little respite last night but it started snowing again around 7 a.m. this morning and has been coming down ever since. We can hear the winds starting to come on, we are forecast for 55-65 mph winds – that should be loads of fun since the trees are weighted down with the heavy wet snow that fell over the past two days. There are already a lot of branches down here and there and our road, well let’s just say that I passed a car trying to come up the hill on my way down to the bus stop and then it had evidently backed all the way down the hill when I was driving back up, giving it what I thought was a second try. A neighbor I passed on the way advised me that it was at least the third time. Not much any of us can do to push her up the hill, but certainly happy to give her a ride. This is what I try to explain to my almost driving son – fancy cars are not meant for the winter up here. The little sports car she had was great, just not meant to drive through about 6 inches of snow and slush going uphill nonetheless.

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Marmota monax
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Here in Vermont they do not celebrate “Groundhog” Day, rather we celebrate Woodchuck Day or at least so I am told. Are they one in the same? Yes. Why the different name? Come on, we try to be different here.

The history of Woodchuck Day or Groundhog Day surrounds the Christian holiday of Candlemas.  Candlemas is the Christian festival of lights, marking the day halfway between the shortest day of the year and the spring equinox. It is the day in the Catholic church that the candles used for the rest of the year are blessed. Jewish tradition was that a woman who gave birth was secluded for 40 days. It is also known as the purification of Mary or the Presentation of Jesus to the Temple  – since traditionally both of these events take place 40 days after a woman gives birth.

Weather lore has it that German tradition indicated that if a burrowing animal saw its shadow on Candlemas Day, there would be six more weeks of winter. Here in Vermont I think that they must shine spotlights on the poor old woodchuck so he has no alternative but to see his shadow, since no one here is ready to give up the snow and winter…just yet.

There are a slew of sayings surrounding the association between the weather and Candlemas. According to the Stormfax website some of the sayings are:

According to the old English saying:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

From Scotland:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There’ll be two winters in the year.

From Germany:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until May.
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.

And from America:

If the sun shines on Groundhog Day;
Half the fuel and half the hay.

The sun is shining here in Vermont this morning – and I am guessing there are a lot of happy people out there right about now.

The groundhog or woodchuck that resides in Nova Scotia has seen its shadow so it’s safe to say that winter is here to stay… for a while at least.

The famous Punxsutawny Phil confirmed that winter is here for a while longer.

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Lately, there has been a lot of discussion around the T’s House of death, dying and tragedy. The earthquake in Haiti and the horrid destruction, death and injury that it has left in its wake are devastating. A good friend who was staying with us has a close uncle that is close to passing away at any moment. Seeing him wrestle with the sadness and grief that accompanies losing someone you love brings back sad memories for me.

Patty at Where Did the Time Go? blog posted a link to a blog from a teacher in her area that was volunteering down in Haiti at the time of the earthquake and recounts as some of us hope we will never know in our lifetime, the horror, fear and panic of a country brought to its knees by a natural disaster. I strongly encourage you to take a look at it.

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? ~ Edgar Allen Poe.

Today is the birthday of Edgar Allen Poe, his 201st. Fitting that in all this news of death and destruction, the writer who can make us shiver with his very words should celebrate a birthday. Last night, for the first time since 1949, the mysterious visitor that has for these last 61 years left cognac and roses at the gravesite of Mr. Poe on his birthday did not come. No one knows why although there is much speculation. Crowds of onlookers, illness, maybe even the visitor’s own death?

Reproduction of the signature of American writ...

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When we were living in New Jersey, there really wasn’t much incentive to think local. Other than what was grown in backyard gardens, residents really had no exposure to local farming and local farmers. While the concept was intellectually appealing, it really didn’t hit home. During the summer months, the grocery stores would throw up signs proclaiming “Jersey Fresh” or “Jersey Grown” but to a great many people, mostly in the area where we lived, the question thrown back was “grown where?” and “who really cares?”

Since we moved to Vermont my attitude has changed. Contrary to what some may say, I don’t think it has any direct relation to the amount of granola that I eat or the type of shoes that I wear and I don’t think that I’ve turned all hippie. Rather, I think that it has to do with the fact that local is not just a hip catch phrase, but rather a way of life. For example, down the hill from us is a dairy farm, during the summer months a fabulous farm stand is down there as well, in Rutland right by the supermarket there is a year-round farmer’s market, a co-op that has some really great local foods and you just cannot get away from the fact that people around here know where their food comes from and more importantly, want to know where it comes from. Supporting local to some of us, means the difference between a neighbor being able to feed their family and keep their farm or going hungry and homeless. Besides all of that, it just tastes good.

I think that it is easier to be more locally minded when you live somewhere a little bit more in touch with nature. Not to say that city dwellers can’t be local minded, but when you wake up and go to sleep with land separating you from your neighbor measured in parts of miles and not in feet or inches, you are almost obliged to give some thought to your surroundings and your food sources.

In the last year, we have purchased 1/2 cow from a local family; a pig from another. We have a garden that is large enough to feed our family of five, share and store for the winter months. We have access to a farmer’s market where you see the same faces each week and get to know them as friends, indeed as neighbors, since most of them are living right in your neck of the woods.

I was happy to hear that Hannaford Supermarket has joined the Keep Local Farms program that was launched last year. It is essentially the dairy farmer’s answer to “Fair Trade” which so many of us know from our coffee and chocolate purchases in an effort to keep wages fair for those in foreign countries. Now is the time to take it local, to some of our backyards in fact. The Keep Local Farms program is designed to offer consumers the option of purchasing milk and other dairy products at fair prices to the dairy farmer. As many of us know, the dairy farmers have been at the short end of the stick in so many respects for so long. In Vermont alone, 53 dairy farms went out of business from January 2009 through November 2009. Farmers are losing money for every gallon of milk that they produce. Latest figures indicate that it costs $1.96 for a farmer to produce a gallon of milk, yet that same farmer is paid only 97 cents for that gallon. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a 3rd grade math student to figure out that the farmers are losing out.

Hannafords is going to offer customers the option of purchasing local milk and/or adding $2 or $5 to their grocery bill at checkout, with the monies going directly to local dairy farmers. A good idea, since the farmer you may helping out is actually a neighbor if you live around these parts.

Dairy cows at Comboyne, NSW

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Bayer AG

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The Yaz/Yasmin litigation has been consolidated into one court, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. A pre-trial conference will take place on January 21, 2010. It is anticipated that Chief Judge David Herndon will proceed with several bellwether trials in this matter. Bellwether trials are advisory only trials in which the jury’s decision does not bind the parties but is used to help the parties see how the case will fair before a jury and ultimately assist in placing a settlement value on the case.

The number of lawsuits which may be ultimately included in the multi-district litigation is anticipated at approximately 25,000. This is reported to make the Yaz litigation the largest multi-district litigation assigned to this District Court.

A large number of women who have taken Yaz or Yasmin, both manufactured by Bayer allege that the contraceptive pills which contain dropspirenone have caused a various of illnesses, strokes and even death. Women allege in their litigation that Bayer failed to properly warn consumers of the dangers involved.

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Photo: Wikipedia

Slashfood ran a story about how the drive up clerk at a Quiznos restaurant found an unlikely customer. She was a pig. A real pig. Turns out that a stray pig was found oinking into the microphone at a Lake of the Pines,  California Quiznos location. Imagine the surprise of the person on the other end of the microphone. The staff called animal control and fed the pig to keep there until the local animal control could arrive. The irony of the whole thing, is that the pig threw up the Quiznos cuisine. Seems that even pigs have a discerning palette.

No one seemed to know where the pig came from, but there appeared to be a lot of takers to adopt her.

Evilwife on the move

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