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Seal of the Army National Guard

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This was a Letter to the Editor in the Rutland Herald as today folks lined the streets to wish the National Guard troops that have given so much of themselves to our state over the past month a fond and very grateful farewell as they head home. Thank you National Guard men and women!

Thanks to fellow blogger Kelly at for pointing it out.

Rutland Herald
Letter to the Editor: 

Thank you Vermont:

I am a Virginia National Guard soldier. I have been in Vermont for three weeks. I have driven hundreds of miles through your state and seen first-hand the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene.First off, my condolences go out to all those affected by the storm. But what affected me most were the people. From the first day and… the first plate of brownies, the local community has been so supportive, thankful and generous that we were all in awe. 

We are accustomed to “Southern hospitality,” but the people of Vermont have taken it to a new level. Everywhere we go the locals stop and thank us, but I really just want to thank you.

This gratitude goes out to the hundreds of thumbs-up we have received, and especially the little girl who gave me that great smile at a stoplight and a little boy that hugged one of our guys and said, “Thank you, Army man.”

To the people at the Spartan Arena that graciously allowed us lodging and the servers at the Armed Forces Reserve Center that fed us morning and evening meals, we thank you. To Mark, Jen, Tim and the rest of the volunteers, we thank you. For all the plates of cookies, brownies and boxes of personal items — and those tasty Vermont apples — we thank you.

But most of all, thank you, Vermont, for showing how people can pull together in times of need. You were all so generous, gracious and hospitable. I can only hope that if this ever happens in Virginia, or anywhere else in this great country, the people would act the same way. When I leave here in a few days, I will take with me a piece of Vermont and know that Vermont will be just fine thanks to her people.

157th Engineer Platoon
Virginia Army National Guard
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Exercising is good for you. How many times have you heard that? But it appears to be even more true.

Exercising not only can make your body healthier, leaner and stronger, it can make your brain work better. A recent study has indicated that no only is exercise good for your body, but evidently it’s also good for your brain.

A recent University of South Carolina study has indicated a connection between optimal brain function and exercise. While scientists long understood there was a connection between exercise and improved memory and reduction in depression, there was no clear understanding as to the connection between the two.

The South Carolina study conducted on mice measured the energy producing mitochondria in the muscles and brains of mice. One group of mice were removed on a daily basis from their cages and ran on an incline for one hour six days of the week while the other group of mice were the couch potatoes and did not engage in any physical exertion and remained in their cages during exercise periods. Other than exercise periods, the mice were handled, fed and treated the same by the scientists. The mice in both groups were monitored over an eight week period. The findings at the conclusion of the study indicated that in addition to the expected increase in muscle mitochondria, the mice who regularly exercised over the eight-week period enjoyed a brain perk for all their effort, increased brain mitochondria and increased genetic biomarkers for enhanced cognition.

Ilchi Lee, a South Korean author and  longstanding proponent of the connection between increased physical activity and increased brain function maintained that the mind, body and spirit are all interconnected. He has long held that the optimal level of conditioning of one area may well impact the functioning of the others. This study gives scientific credibility to her theory.

The study findings are impressive and indicate that exercise may aid in the future treatment of certain mental disorders, genetic disorders and neurodegenerative disorders. The findings are also significant for athletes since the study demonstrated that the increase in brain mitochondria decreased brain fatigue. The final portion of the study had both sets of mice run on a treadmill until fatigue. The mice who were sedentary did not show any increase in their ability to withstand fatigue. The exercising mice however almost doubled their fatigue point, increasing their ability to run from approximately 74 minutes to approximately 126 minutes. The increase in brain mitochondria may indicate an important connection between exercise and the brain’s ability to withstand fatigue.

Regular exercise of even thirty minutes a day can have a positive impact on brain function making the study findings applicable to everyday folks as well as superstar athletes.

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I was treated to a birthday dinner by two of the boys on Friday evening.

Tim cooked up a delicious soup that we all devoured.

And dessert which I’m not allowed to show — sorry but I promised no close-ups of the cake. So, you’ll have to settle for the obligatory cake and candles photo instead.

See, with all those candles, you can barely tell there’s a cake under there at all……..

It was a great birthday dinner night.




Today I had to run a few errands this morning. As I was walking to my car in the parking lot, a woman came up to me, a little older than myself. She asked me if I had any idea where the FEMA offices were located. Someone had told her Commons St. and she was unfamiliar with where that was located. I knew where it was since my doctor’s office is in the same complex. I gave her directions. She asked if we sustained any damage in the wake of Irene, I told her no, that our road was washed away, but otherwise we were okay. I asked her about her damage. She looked at her car, parked next to mine and said “All I have left is my car. Everything else is gone washed away.” I expressed my sympathy for her losses. She looked at me, smiled and said “It makes you appreciate the simple things in life.”

Hard to gripe about the difficulties in your own life when you come face to face with that, isn’t it?

Appreciate the simple things….

Fall Foliage in Vermont

Today is one of my favorite days of the year — the official start to the autumn season. Today is the day of the autumnal equinox. The word “equinox” means “equal night” and refers to equality between day and night. It is said to be the time when the hours of light and dark are equal, although scientifically that is not entirely accurate.
According to Greek mythology, the autumnal equinox marked the start of the period when the goddess Persephone returns to live with her husband Hades in the underworld. Persephone is also referred to as the vegetation goddess who is associated with the growing season. Her return to Hades in the underworld marks the end of the growing season and the time of harvest. Myth states that her mother Demeter was so saddened that she could not find her daughter that the crops died and would not reappear until the spring when Persephone comes back from the underworld.
The first day of autumn is also referred to as the Mabon in the Pagan and Wiccan traditions and is considered the second harvest festival. It signifies the end of the grain harvest. It is a time for reflection and thanksgiving to Mother Earth for the bounties that she has bestowed. It is a time to take stock of the fruits of the harvest and prepare the crops and the livestock for the long winter ahead. Druids, who call the holiday Alban Elfed would take the last corn stalk and turn it into a figure in order to trap the corn spirit inside. The stalk was burned and the ashes spread over the fields to ensure future bounties. It is also a time to reflect inward and prepare for the time ahead. Interestingly, it is in the autumn as opposed to the New Year, that traditionally one took stock of one’s life and place in it.
The full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox is referred to as the Harvest Moon. It was the full moon closest to the harvest of crops. This year’s Harvest moon occurred about 10 days ago.
Here in Vermont, it has felt like autumn for a few weeks now. The foliage has taken on fall colors and the mountains are gradually turning into a virtual explosion of different shades of yellow, orange and red. The air is crisp and we have already had a good frost here where I live. Apples are being harvested and smoke permeates the air from wood stoves and fireplaces already working to keep the chill out of the air. The fields are returning to their winter nakedness waiting to blanketed by snowfall. It is a peaceful time, given the harrowing days and weeks the preceded this Equinox from Tropical Storm Irene. Vermont is settling into her own, it is one of the best times of year here in the mountains.
Wherever you are, enjoy the balance of the day and take time to reflect upon the past year and the remainder to come.

You ever have a day where you are off-kilter? Things just aren’t going wrong or badly, but they are just not right? Well that was my day today. Feeling in a bit of a rut. Lots to do, less than desirable weather and a headache that I just can’t seem to shake. It all adds up to a funky mood.

Let’s hope tomorrow brings a better day……

Seems that we are not the only ones who enjoy the apples in our yard. Evidently, the ones closest to the house are the ones that are the most desirable, given the fact that the deer wandered across an entire field of apple trees with fruit on them to choose just this tree. It just so happens to be our favorite apple tree also, go figure.

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Mice with different coat colors.

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As I stumbled from bed this morning, still almost asleep myself with the beginnings of a cold infiltrating my head, I woke the boys as I do every morning. Then I headed downstairs to start making lunches. This morning, I was making banana chocolate chip muffins for breakfast with some overripe bananas we had on hand. As I am mixing the batter, across the floor scuttles something dark and fast and definitely furry……

Yikes! A mouse. Just the thing I needed to see to start off my Monday morning.

Logically, this is the time of the year, when it gets cold at night that any of us here in the country tend to start seeing field mice. They are trying to get their little furry butts into somewhere warm and I cannot blame them, it’s cold out there. We had a frost last night that turned the entire field next to us white. This morning I had to rub my eyes twice to make sure that it wasn’t snow, that’s how frosty it was. Anyway, I deviate from my point. I intellectually have no problem with their desire to get indoors….just not my home. It is already occupied, thank you very much.

Field mice are considered one of the more intelligent of the rodent family. If they are that intelligent, perhaps they can find alternate housing arrangements. Perhaps the country mice can go visit their city cousins… there’s a good idea.

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Fred Ott's Sneeze (film by William K.L. Dickson)

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The boys have been back to school for a little over two weeks. We lasted that long, but I’m pretty sure it’s still a record. Tyler developed a miserable cold pretty much overnight. Tim is falling fast, he has been sneezing his head off tonight and sounds sniffly. As I type this I heard repetitive sneezing coming from the upstairs. Never a good sign.  Tom and I have felt less than great as the day has worn on. We know it is only a matter of time….tick, tock, tick, tock.

When I told the boys that they could get me anything for my birthday, I didn’t mean a cold….but I’m sure that’s what I will have by the time my birthday rolls around at the end of the week.

But I am trying really hard to find the positive side of things….keep a smile on my face and all that jazz. So I’m thinking…….


At least it’s not the stomach bug.

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Got my first blog post put up on Technorati. Hooray for me!

Check it out.


There are still a plethora of tomatoes in the garden. I have roasted a lot of them. Now I am making crushed tomatoes with them that I am freezing to use later in tomato sauce, stews, soups and the like.

It’s a fairly simple process (which would be a lot simpler if I didn’t have to peel the tomatoes first)

1. Cut an x shaped slit into the bottom of each tomato with a sharp knife.

2. Drop the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes.

3. Remove from water and the skins should peel off with little effort.

You now have a naked tomato.

4. Then quarter the skinned tomatoes and place into food processor.

5. Blend to desired consistency. At this point you can place it in a pot to make sauce as you would with canned crushed tomatoes

Or put in a container to freeze.



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It has been a LONG week.

One of the reasons is that all week I have somehow thought I was one day ahead, thinking it was Wednesday when it was only Tuesday. Go through that for a whole week and it seems like it has been at least two.

The other reason is that Tom has been traveling on business this whole week. Not that anything horrible has gone on or the boys have been terrorists — in fact quite the opposite they have been great with the exception of  one night leaving me alone at the table to eat dinner and have a fine conversation with myself…well, okay maybe I was talking to the dog, but the only reason she was around was hoping that I was feeling pathetic enough to share my food with her; otherwise I am sure that she would have hightailed it out of the room as well. It’s just that when he is gone it gets lonely around here. It’s like being off kilter, things just don’t seem right when there’s only one of us around.


Evilwife on the move

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