“Produced with Genetic Engineering”
This is one of the new labels that you will most likely see if Vermont’s GMO labeling law successfully avoids legal challenge and goes into effect as planned just about one year from now on July 1, 2016. The Vermont Attorney General’s office last week released the rules regarding the labeling of foods produced with genetic engineering that will guide manufacturers and producers of genetically engineering products for sale in this state.

What is covered:

1. Unpackaged food required to be labeled such as fresh fruits and vegetables

2. Packaged foods with genetic engineering offered for sale in Vermont including packaged raw agricultural commodities as well as processed foods.

What is exempt:

1. Animal products and foods bearing USDA approved labels

2. Foods certified as not produced with genetic engineering

3. Processing aids

4. Alcoholic beverages

5. Foods containing genetically engineered materials where the weight of the genetically materials is less than .9 percent of the total weight of the food

6. Foods verified by a qualifying organization – such as food certified as “organic” in accordance with USDA National Organic Program accreditations.

7. Food for immediate consumption such as unpackaged foods served in restaurants.

8. Medical food as defined by federal law.

The entire set of rules adopted by the Attorney General can be found here.

On Monday, the Federal Court denied the Grocery Manufacturing Association’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop the enforcement of the law beginning on July 1, 2016. This was a positive result for Vermont, the “david” in this david versus goliath battle. Vermont is the first state in the nation to pass and put into effect a GMO labeling law and opponents of the law were quick to file a complaint in federal court seeking to have the new law invalidated. This request for an injunction was the first step for the opponents to see if they would be able to have the court order that the law could not go into effect until the litigation was finalized.

While this was rather important and justifiably was splashed across the news around the country, not many reported that there was a second part to that ruling. While the opponents were seeking to have the court grant injunctive relief, the state of Vermont filed its own application seeking to dismiss, at least in part, the opponent’s claim. Vermont was predominantly unsuccessful on it application to dismiss various claims. For example, in response to the opponent’s claim that the labeling violates First Amendment rights, the court ruled: The court believes that Act 120’s affirmative labeling requirement is not barred by the First Amendment, but denies Vermont’s motion to dismiss the First Amendment challenge because the court recognizes that this is a serious question of law as to which courts might disagree; but the court finds that Act 120’s ban on the term “natural” does violate the First Amendment.

The court did dismiss the opponent’s claim that the labeling law violated the Commerce clause stating that the Act’s affirmative labeling law did not violate the Commerce clause since the labeling requirement only applied to products sold in Vermont. The court in its ruling was skeptical of some of the plaintiff opponent’s claims of a constitutional nature, but since this was a preliminary application, the court was reluctant to outright dismiss the plaintiff’s claims as a whole.

As has happened many times in the past, all eyes will continue to be on Vermont as this law and the legal challenge to it unfolds.

Photo: 7 Days Caleb Kenna

Photo: 7 Days Caleb Kenna

Gotta love Vermont. Today there was a story in the news about a business that uses two draft horses (who are brothers) to pick up trash in the horse drawn trash container owned by a company called Draft Trash. Where else but around here would you find a horse drawn trash trailer coming to your house to pick up your trash. Evidently folks are thrilled with the idea, the service, the horses and the lack of a fuel surcharge!

The horses wait on line at the trash center alongside the much larger and much noisier trash hauling trucks and seem absolutely unfazed by the whole process. Read the entire article here.

usSiblings. A lot of us have them. They are our link to our parents and the only ones that know what it was really like growing up in our house. They are our biggest fans and can be our worst enemies since they know everything about us, they know our kryptonite and sometimes aren’t afraid to use it, especially when we are young and gullible. Siblings-you gotta love them, you’re bound by blood.

I am the oldest in my family and I have one of each type of sibling, a brother and a sister. The years that separate us in age diminished as we grew into adulthood as spouses and parents. I love my siblings and cannot imagine life without them. When things go bad or are really good, it is my siblings that I want to share it with. We’ve laughed together more than I can recall and cried and held each other when that was what one of us needed.

We have instilled in our boys the idea that they are all they’ve got. They will have each other long after my husband and I have been reabsorbed by the world around us (sounds a lot nicer doesn’t it than saying when we’re wormfood). We are lucky because our boys never really had those knock-down, drag out fights that we’ve heard about from some of our friends. (Oh don’t get me wrong, there was the infamous Tonka truck episode when the older two ticked the youngest off). They were each other’s first friends and probably best friends for a number of years before their worlds expanded. Today, I am proud that they revel in each other’s accomplishments and empathize in each other’s disappointments. It is with a proud mama heart that I watch this and know that I had something to do with it. I hope that as with my own siblings, these bonds grow deeper and stronger as the years pile on.

To those of you with siblings, enjoy them. Laugh, cry, joke and tease – it is what we know and what makes our sibling relationships so very special.

To my own siblings, Happy Sibling Day, I cannot imagine a world without you in it.

Love,

Me, your older (and wiser) sister :)

Here are some pictures of the other siblings in my life and my siblings’ lives — a great group don’t you agree?_DSC0037 _DSC0079 girls

Here is a link to Tim’s solo. It was truly wonderful. I hope that wherever life leads him in the next years, that music remains a big part of his life.

Every once in a while, you get a whole lot of good all at one time. This weekend was one of those times. We were very fortunate to share a very special weekend with our families and our very dear friends. It really doesn’t get any better than that. Every year the high school’s music department puts forth a Bistro evening where the honors ensembles perform during a three course dinner and then perform an evening concert. It is a wonderful night, filled with lots of good food and great music. This was Tim’s last year to perform in Bistro and I was privileged to share it with those folks that I hold close to my heart. Then, we all were able to celebrate Easter together on Sunday. I know I have said it before, but I am very lucky to have such wonderful people in my life and I am so very, very proud of my son, Tim and his wonderful performance.

Here are some pictures from the weekend and the show.

My handsome nephews

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My handsome boys

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My dearest friends who came quite the distance to share the weekend with us._DSC0029 _DSC0103_DSC0092 IMG_4255

My in-laws and my mom with the grandsons

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 Our family picture

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tjTwenty years ago today, I became a mom. It was the scariest and simultaneously, the happiest day of my life up to that point. I could not believe that the little one twisting and turning inside for so many months had, rather reluctantly, made his way into this world. There were weeks after he was born that literally, I just stared at him in wonder and awe. Through the years, I have watched him grow from that tiny baby  into the smart, funny, kind and handsome young man he is today. It is hard to imagine that two decades have gone by since he came into my life. When folks say it all passes in the blink of an eye, you can only understand how true that is when you are looking at it from the other side. I cannot believe that today he is embarking on a whole new decade in his life.

I hope that this new decade brings many wonderful experiences and opportunities and I am sure, knowing what a hardworking and dedicated guy he is, that he will have just that. I couldn’t be prouder of the man he has become and very much honored to have him call me mom.

Happy Birthday TJ! I love you!

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Today is the birthday of one of my oldest and dearest friends. We have spent many days and nights through the many years that we have known each other laughing until we cried, crying because we were either so very over joyed or so very sorry for the other’s loss or sadness, talking each other’s ears off or sitting together by a warm fire in comfortable silence while our kids and husbands were off doing other things. We have celebrated innumerable birthdays and milestones in our own lives and the lives of our husbands and our children together. I cannot imagine the years that have passed without her and her family in my life.

We have seen each other through the birth of children, a miscarriage, the loss of a parent, the trials, celebrations and tribulations of raising children, family vacations, birthdays, graduations, communions, moves to new homes and many other of life’s celebrations and trials that the years have brought our way. She has traveled several hours to be here for me when she could tell from my voice on the phone earlier that day that her presence would mean the world to me. These are the things that make friendships last forever. These are the things that make it seem like no time has passed when we get together despite the pages on the calendar flying by us in between visits.

There are several things that I hold in my heart as wishes for my children. To have friendships as special and loving as this is one of those wishes. I hope that as my boys grow that they are blessed to find and keep such wonderful, dear, special friends. Their lives will be so much fuller and richer, beyond that which money can measure, because of those friendships. Our boys have seen these friendships firsthand and have seen the years of love and laughter. They have come to know how very special this thing called friendship can be and I hope that they find it for themselves.

I have often told them, as has my husband, that friendship is special and to be tended to with great care. I have many times pointed out to my boys that while other folks may have many “friends” I am lucky to have a few friends that I can call my “3 am friends”. These are the friends that I know I could call at 3 a.m. with a request that they come because I need them and they would be there regardless of the distance simply because they were needed, without any question or any hesitation.  To be blessed with these friends is truly a gift that one holds so very close to the heart. I hope that my boys find their own “3 am friends” and they keep them close throughout their lives.

This weekend, I will be so very blessed and fortunate to have my very dear friend Kirby and two of my other very old and dear friends, Ellen and Gordon, coming to share a special event in our family with us. They should know how very much this means to me and how very special it will be to share it with them.

As the sign that hangs on our wall says: It takes a long time to grow old friends.

Happy Birthday, my dear, dear friend!

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Just before Tyler was born, I was wondering how mothers could say that they love all their children equally. Our oldest was our world and I couldn’t imagine loving another little baby as much I loved him and it scared me. How could I do this?. Then along came Tyler. He was very different in a lot of ways from his brother. He was a different build, he had the most beautiful blue eyes that you could lose yourself in and he was nothing like his older brother. My heart melted and expanded many times over just like that and suddenly, within hours of bringing this (not so) little guy into the world, I couldn’t imagine my world without him in it. He has the best smile, he’s thoughtful, caring and wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s grown into a wonderful man that I am very proud to call my son. He is handsome, smart, witty and reminds me a lot of his dad. Although I won’t ever get used to this “not always seeing them on their birthday” thing, there will be plenty of birthday pictures when he comes home in a few weeks for Easter. We did get a chance to spend some pre-birthday one-on-one time in the past few days and it made my heart melt all over again.

So…. until those pictures, here are some other pictures from birthdays past that are just going to have to do.

Happy Birthday Tyler – I love you!

IMG_2590  IMG_1111 My beautiful picture

Circling Friday the 13th date on calendar with...

Circling Friday the 13th date on calendar with marker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Friday the 13th! This is the second one we’ve had so far this year. Here’s some Friday the 13th facts for you.

1. 13 guests were at the last supper and Jesus was put to death the following day, Friday and Judas was the 13th guest.

2. FDR refused to have 13 guests for dinner or to have a dinner on the 13th.

3. The longest period that can occur without a Friday the 13th is 14 months.

4. Hotels and Hospitals skip the 13th floor generally.

5. No one can track the exact reason that Friday the 13th is considered unlucky. In fact, in Hispanic cultures, Tuesday the 13th is considered unlucky. This is also true for folks of Greek descent.

6. Italians, now they have their own issues. Italians believe that Friday the 17th is unlucky and they generally believe that the number 13 is unlucky.

7. Factually, there is no correlation between Friday the 13th and general runs of bad luck.

_DSC0009 _DSC0019When I got home yesterday, our dog crate was sitting outside the back door. I learned that the game warden had returned it with an update on the little bear that was rescued. The bear that we thought was a cub, was actually a yearling. It has been relocated to the black bear sanctuary in Lyme, New Hampshire. He (or she) will join 22 other bears who live at that sanctuary. The warden advised that he weighed in at 18 pounds which is substantially less than the 80 lbs he should have been for a 1 year old. Poor thing was not only cold and shivering when he was crated but evidently also starving.

At his new home, he will be fed a high calorie mixture that will help put the weight back on and get the little one ready to be reintroduced into the woods of Vermont. The sanctuary is situated on several acres in Lyme, New Hampshire and the bears roam free, much like their natural habitats, except with access to food and medical care.

Here are some links to the sanctuary and articles about the bear biologist, if you are interested. The sanctuary is evidently the only facility of its kind in New England. Ben Kilham is the gentleman who has taken on this wonderful task. According to his website and related articles, he doesn’t get paid to do this and relies on donations and his own monies to fund this project. Should you find it in your heart and your wallet to make a donation of some type to help offset the $1,500 per bear cub that Kilham incurs to get these animals back where they belong, I am sure it would be appreciated.

Here’s a video about some bear cubs from last year.

The sun is getting a little higher in the sky and temperatures in the teens (without a wind) are starting to feel downright balmy. This morning’s temperature at 6:30 was -13 and later in the morning it was 13 degrees on the positive side of zero. Today we were surprised by a baby black bear cub while checking on a friend’s house. It climbed up into the tree, with no signs of a mom anywhere and curled up into a ball. Feeling sorry for the little thing, and it is pretty small, I went back to check up and see if it had moved on. It was still in the tree, curled up in a ball and only raised its head when a car went by. There are no tracks other than its own in the snow around and I fear it has been abandoned or wandered away. We’ve put a call into the game warden to see what could be done and are waiting to hear.

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ACDA National HS Honors Choir

ACDA National HS Honors Choir

This week, our youngest son is out in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is performing in the National High School Honors Choir. To say that I am proud of Tim and his accomplishment is an understatement. Right now, I am wishing that I were there to hear the concert and marvel at the achievement. That was just not in the cards. He has had, best as I can tell from messages and quick phone calls, an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I absolutely CANNOT wait until he comes home so I can hear all about it in person.

He was selected from approximately 4,000 high school choral students to be a part of the 300 person national high school honors choir for the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA). The group is performing this afternoon as a group and then will perform this evening in a mass choir with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He is one of three students from his high school and one of the five from the state of Vermont chosen following the auditioning process.  It is quite an honor. We are very proud of him.

We at our high school are blessed to have an amazing, dedicated choral teacher who goes above and beyond with our children. She sees their potential and helps them achieve things that they would never have even attempted without her guidance. We are grateful for all her time and effort, particularly since this week, she spent her birthday away from her own children to be with ours.

Here is the article that appeared in the local newspaper about the students and their experience.

From the Herald – NORTH CLARENDON — When the lights go up, the silence of anticipation will be broken by the thundering sound of 300 voices filling the air with song.
And three of those 300 voices will belong to Mill River Union High School seniors.
The students — Tim Heffernan, Katherine Bullock and Christian Brand — make up a tiny fraction of the nearly 4,000 students who auditioned for the 2015 National American Choral Directors’ Association Honor Choirs in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This weekend, the trio will spend several days rehearsing with the most talented vocal artists in the nation, and finish off the weekend with three performances. Roughly 6,000 people will be in attendance at those performances.
“It’s amazing and completely overwhelming to think of that many people listening to us sing,” said Brand.
Kristin Cimonetti, vocal teacher at the school, said this event is the highest honor of its kind that a high school student can achieve.
“It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “It’s very competitive and there is no other choral event of this caliber in the country.”
Each student who auditioned had to use the same piece of music and record it electronically.
Each recording was then put under the audio microscope by a panel of judges who made decisions of elimination, whittling the 4,000 audition recordings down to a mere 300.
The blip of music was only about 40 seconds long, but the students rerecorded for hours, trying to get the perfect clip.
“We didn’t even listen to the final result,” said Bullock. “It’s too nerve-wracking, and you’ll never be completely satisfied with how you sound.”
Cimonetti was the one who listened with great detail to each of their recordings and ultimately made the final decision on which one to send to the judges.
“I listened for little glitches, like a breath that lasted slightly longer than it should,” she said. “But in the end, it all worked out.”
The recordings were sent in November, but the students didn’t learn the results until a couple of months later.
“It was like waiting to hear from college applications, but worse,” said Heffernan, laughing.
Each said that when they did get their results back, the feeling was unreal.
“I saw the email on my phone and I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know if I trusted such good news,” said Brand, who read the email while walking down the street. The shock of it all caused him to abruptly stop walking, causing what he called a backup of foot traffic behind him.
“I was certain it was a trick,” he said.
But as the initial shock wore off, the students realized they had some serious work ahead of them.
They were each mailed a series of songs they needed to learn for the performances.
And they needed to learn them by heart.
Just because they had gotten into the choir didn’t mean they were out of the hot seat.
At the first rehearsal in Salt Lake, judges will walk through the rows of students, listening intently as they sing, eliminating anyone who doesn’t sound up to par.
“It may seem harsh, but it ensures quality performance,” Cimonetti said. “It holds everyone accountable.”
But each of the Mill River students have been dedicated to practicing in preparation for the event.
“We’ll absolutely be practicing on the plane ride, too,” said Bullock. “I actually feel bad for the people sitting next to us. We’ll be singing the whole time.”
While the three students said they feel a sense of pride, they all know they could not haven accomplished any of this without the help of Cimonetti.
But Cimonetti modestly shook off the compliment, saying the students were the ones bursting with talent.
“I really do think we will all be changed after this performance,” said Heffernan.
bryanna.allen

Photo: Rutland Herald

Photo: Rutland Herald

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