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Kerplunk – To fall with a sound like that of a heavy object falling into water.

Wednesday was not a good day. Didn’t start off so terribly, I woke up and that’s a positive right there. No, the problems started when I put my phone in my back pant pocket in order to carry my basket of laundry downstairs first thing in the morning. Since I never put my phone in my back pocket, I forgot that it was there and went about my business. Until a short time later when I walked into the bathroom and heard that sound – kerplunk. As the definition states, it is sound of a heavy object falling into water — or in my case, the sound that your Iphone makes when it falls into the toilet and sinks immediately to the bottom of the toilet bowl. At first, the sound did not register, what could have fallen into the toilet? Then with horror I realized it was my phone. There was cussing and screaming and crying because you see, my phone is not up for a new phone until much later this year and a wet phone is not a good thing. Not at all.

I immediately grabbed the phone out of the toilet and now the flash was on and the phone wouldn’t shut off and …did I mention I was crying?… gave it to my husband who thought I must have been suffering some medical emergency when I came screaming and crying out of the bathroom. Into the bag of rice it went, I grabbed my computer and texted my eldest son, who deals with these sort of phone emergencies in his daily work. In compliance with his instructions out of the bag of rice it came. It was taken apart and the battery was disconnected so no further damage could occur. It was left open to dry for 4-6 hours as directed by the kid into whose mouth I put spoonful upon spoonful of rice cereal 21 years ago.

And we waited. And I also decided, after I ripped the molding off the door trying to bring the wood cart in with firewood later that morning, that I should refrain from doing anything further to endanger myself or those around me. So, I waited some more, not doing much of anything, except maybe still crying and chastising myself for being utterly stupid.

Hours later, with eldest son on call as the phone was reconnected, we learned it wasn’t completely dead, but sadly wounded. I then contacted his work, Wires Computing‘s website and opened a ticket for a repair since he was in Burlington and I was here and my phone desperately needed his expertise two hours away. With an interesting role reversal, he calmly assured me that he sees more of this type of thing than I knew and I was evidently one of the eleven or twelve other people (mostly women) who have their phones fall out of their pockets and into toilets on a weekly basis – and who also seek his help.

My phone was mailed the next day as directed, received the following day and repaired that same day by my dear, sweet, very talented son. It was shipped out to me this morning and if all goes well, I should have it by Monday.

While I am always proud of the boys, I am particularly proud of the guy who was able to save his mom (and her phone). He is going to school for engineering and graduating this May, but he works doing micro soldering (which is soldering done under a microscope on electronics) repairing phones, computers and other electronic devices that are mailed to them from all over the world not working, with water damage, with cracked screens, etc. If you are in need of this service, as I was, I would encourage you to check out their website. The service was quick, can be done from anywhere (in the world, evidently as he said he has phone from Europe, South America and the Middle East right now he is working on) and there is little hassle. You receive emailed updates of the status of your repair and an email when it is finished, your invoice is ready to be paid and your phone is on its way back to you. The final email was my particular favorite and I’m sure you can figure out why.  🙂

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We still haven’t figured out if that was just because it was my phone or whether that message accompanies every repair he does.

 

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img_5127I enjoy cooking. Most of the time, I’m good at it too. I like the creative outlet, I enjoy the sensory aspects of cooking – cutting, chopping, slicing – the repetitive actions;  all good ways to meditate and be mindful of what you are doing and bring yourself a sense of peace. It’s also just the opposite, a great way to forget what may be bothering you by putting all your energy into pounding chicken breasts for a recipe or hand kneading dough for a loaf of bread.

img_4526If I had the opportunity to start another career, I think that it would be food related in some aspect. I don’t know that I have the desire to train to become a professional chef and work in a restaurant with all that stress and pressure involved. I don’t have those ideas of grandeur; maybe I’d just be a traveling personal chef. Simply me and the food in a kitchen, enjoying the process, reveling in the experience of cooking for other people to enjoy.  The satisfaction of knowing that somewhere in the process of doing what I am enjoying, I am making someone’s life a little easier and a little tastier.

The only problem with having a cooking or baking as a hobby is that there has to be someone there to eat what is prepared and created. These days, my biggest cooking fans are not living at home, therefore there is little reason to cook. It is sad. Akin to the skier with no snow or the swimmer with no water. The hobby cannot be practiced without the recipient.

Now I relish the small opportunities that present themselves- cooking dinner with friends, evenings the two of us want a home cooked meal, the nights I am home to cook such a meal.

Today, we were on our way into Ludlow to run an errand and came upon the Mount Holly Moose once again.  We have seen her many times in the past months, sometimes with an out of town guest which really made their day. This time, she was laying down in someone’s yard just relaxing. So, with good camera in hand, here are some of the pictures. She looks totally unfazed by the humans on the side of the road that were gawking at her and taking pictures. After all, not many moose posing for cameras. A few years ago, we had a couple young moose that would wander through our neighborhood, but we haven’t seen any that close around our house in years.

There is concern that the moose is ill and that is the reason for her lack of concern for cars and people. There is talk that the moose may ultimately have to be euthanized. Hopefully, that is not the case.

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jpeg-image-6e4dc5a1c5ca-1Tom’s grandmother used to make chocolate pudding for us. I remember the first time I had it, it was different. It had nuts in it. Turns out that it was My-T-Fine pudding with nuts. Tiny little chopped nuts inside chocolate pudding. In the years since, I had found it a few times and made it, bringing back sweet (no pun intended) memories of a special lady. Then we couldn’t find it. I am not even sure that it is even made anymore.

This afternoon, we set about to rectify that and make our own version.

First, I made the chocolate pudding with some delicious dutch process cocoa we nabbed down at the Brattleboro Co-op when we were down there last night for dinner after a closing I had in the area. Then, while the pudding was cooking, I chopped up slivered almonds into tiny pieces and added them to the cooked pudding. jpeg-image-6e4dc5a1c5ca-7

The pudding went into the fridge and we had it for dessert just a little while ago. It was delicious.

Pudding recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 c. dutch process cocoa
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 T. butter (unsalted)
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Mix the first four ingredients together in a heavy bottomed pot. Add the 4 cups of milk (we used Lactaid skim milk so my husband could enjoy it with any intestinal issues).

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil. Then stir constantly for two minutes more.

Remove from heat and add 2 T. butter (I used unsalted) and 2 t. vanilla extract.

Then I stirred in the chopped almonds, about 1/2 cup’s worth.

Put them into the fridge for at least two hours to set and form that great chocolate pudding “skin”.

This made six ramekins of pudding.

 

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Photo credit: Alamay

This is the Dummerston covered bridge. I drove over it tonight on my way to a closing. It was just about 5 p.m. and this bridge was the perfect example of Vermont manners. It is a one lane bridge. There is no traffic light, no yield signs, no traffic cop. Just a sign that says one lane bridge. For those of you who have never visited Vermont (really?, who are you?) it is a covered bridge that only one car can travel on in one direction at a time. The perfect example of taking your time. Not rushing. The antithesis of everything New Jersey highway.

On the other side of this bridge is a road which has traffic coming into the bridge from two directions, north and south. Therefore, on that side of the bridge, the traffic from both directions needs to stop, take turns alternating with each other and with the traffic turning from Route 30.

The important thing is …no one is going anywhere fast. This is no Route 4 or Route 17 merge in Paramus, New Jersey during rush hour where everyone is pushing, vying to get in front of the car next to them that is merging onto the roadway with them, fighting, inching to be one car length ahead to go …well, nowhere fast if you’ve ever been in New Jersey traffic at rush hour.

Here, on this bridge, everyone stops and takes their time. It is only one lane and one at a time each car alternates going over the bridge. No one while we were there tried to sneak behind the car already proceeding, over the bridge to get through quickly, all the drivers alternated, each waiting their turn. Miraculously, we still all got where we were headed. There was no cussing, no middle fingers raised, no road rage, no one trying to cut anyone off.

Vermont manners. Yet another reason why I love it here.

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Woot! Woot! I just got an email from the Sourdough Project that they want to examine and analyze my sourdough starter! For anyone who has no idea what the heck I am talking about, The Sourdough Project is a research project where they are analyzing samples of various sourdough starters from all over the world to determine their similarities, differences and to compile sourdough DNA.

Per their website explaining who’s involved:

This project is a broad collaboration involving experts in the evolution of food microorganisms (Ben Wolfe, Tufts University), the ecology of microbes (Tad Fukami, Stanford/Natural History Museum of Denmark), human evolution (Peter C. Kjærgaard, Natural History Museum of Denmark), the ecology of life in homes (Rob Dunn, Natural History Museum of Denmark/NC State University), the interface of microbial cultures and art (Anne Madden, NC State University) among others.

If you want to learn more about this project, other than from my ranting here, there’s a great article on NPR that I’ve written about previously.

 

I think that the hardest part of not having kids at home is figuring out how to fill that daily void. For so many years, life revolved around kids’ schedules, kids’ school, in general kids’ lives that it’s hard to figure out me again. 

Since the boys are so close in age, friends used to kid that it seemed like I was pregnant for a very long time. Hard to remember they would say, when you weren’t pregnant. I understand what they meant now. Hard to remember when I wasn’t a mom. I love being a mom. I will always be a mom but now I have “me” time back so I need to dig deep and find my happy place. Things I enjoy doing that aren’t necessarily mom related. 

In this quest, I am trying different things seeing what sticks. One thing that has fallen by the wayside in recent times has been this blog which I started over a decade ago when we moved here. I enjoy writing and promised myself for the new year that I would try my best to post to it every day. 

Some days will be witty and well thought out, other days may be more stream if consciousness and I’m sure some will be purely because I have to write something, kind of like self imposed homework. Whatever the day’s inspiration may be, the overarching reason is that I enjoy it, I think I’m fairly decent at it and it makes me happy. Hopefully those reading it will enjoy it too. Since I also like taking pictures and feel I haven’t been doing enough of that either lately, you’ll see a neat photo to go along with the words I write. These were taken the other morning on my way back from my sunrise Rotary meeting. Everything was frosty and beautiful in the drive up the hill.

I am also starting an online Harvard open class course in my “spare” time. Maybe that will be another day’s post. 

img_5108It is a very quiet house here at the T’s. The boys are all back to school and our company over the holiday weekend is gone. While this is the beginning of the second semester of school for the boys, it is the beginning of Empty Nest Part II here at home. Empty Nest Blues….when it hasn’t quite sunk in yet that they are gone again.

In thinking about it, the dog and I have a great deal in common at this point in time. While sitting here in the living room by the wood stove, typing away, I half expect a kid to come sauntering in. No such luck but at every errant noise, both the dog and I look to the doorway expectantly, both with similar expressions of hope in our eyes. Both of us realize almost simultaneously – no, that was just a noise, not a boy. We probably have the same disappointment float momentarily over our faces. We then both turn to Tom to entertain us and make us forget that there was no boy at the doorway.

Sad, but true. I have been reduced to equating myself with the dog. At least when it comes to the first few days after everyone has left. My goals for the second semester is to take my dog companion and get out there and soak in some Vitamin D on a daily basis. A little (okay, any) snow to make it a little more appealable (and ski-able) would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

Do you have AAA? If not, drop what you are doing right now, get to your computer and enroll.

I kid you not. Do it. Do it now. You will thank me. Trust me.

I cannot recommend AAA (American Automobile Association) enough. I love AAA, almost as much as I love my family. When the boys became drivers, they got added to the insurance policy and to the AAA account. Since then they have helped us out whenever there was an automobile emergency.

Every dealing I have had with the folks at AAA has been a good one, they have been polite, kind, considerate and helpful.

Tonight we needed them again, and they were there, as promised.

We got out of Tom’s truck, just to run inside the house next door quickly and grab something. When we came outside, the truck was locked, with the keys in the ignition. This is evidently something new that Tom’s truck has decided to do, randomly lock the doors despite no one locking the doors.

Guess where the spare key was? In my purse. Guess where my purse was? Yup, locked in the truck. Along with our phones, our gloves. Called AAA and within 45 minutes as promised, a very nice guy on a very cold night, worked to unlock the truck. When he couldn’t get the door unlocked on the driver’s side, he just wandered over to the passenger side, worked at it some more and bingo…. we were unlocked.

A few months ago, a fuel pump went on one of the trucks when it was in Boston with one of the boys. A call to AAA — the truck, and the kids, were driven to the designated auto repair facility in New Hampshire. It made our lives much easier than having to drive to Boston to arrange towing and fetch kids.

Is this an unpaid endorsement of AAA? Why yes it is. When someone finds a service that is always helpful,  they should shout it from the rooftop.

Now stop reading this and go sign up for AAA. Trust me, you will thank me. Thank you, New England AAA. 🙂

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Today is National Hat Day. Today is also the birthday of two special guys in my life. To combine both holidays together, as the birthday boys celebrate what they have always dubbed the “I have a dream” weekend, here’s some pictures of birthday boys in hats.

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Happy Birthday Lou and Tom!

pictures-093_2Through a mother’s eyes, this is how they will always look to me. No matter how many years the calendar says they are, how tall they become, how adult they are to the rest of the world. When I look at them, I can see what the rest of the world sees, the handsome, smart, amazing young men they have become, but I also see these faces. These people who somewhere in the recesses of their subconscious minds, know what my heart sounds like from the inside.

Today, two of them headed back to school. The oldest left a week ago. The time always goes way too fast. There doesn’t seem like there are enough seconds in a day when they are around. I want to sit and talk with them, stare at them, drink it all in like some intoxicating, addictive drug.

I was pretty good earlier today when my friend and I dropped off our youngest two, that is until she pointed out, with mom tears in her eyes, that this was really the last time they  would be ours, truly ours. In a few short months, those two, our respective babies, will join their siblings with their own apartments. Next summer, there will be another place they will call home. That thought just did me in. So when my middle son took off for his home away from home tonight, there was a little extra poignancy to the goodbyes.

“We’re only a couple hours away, you know” he said “don’t be sad.” Yes, I know. But through my mother eyes and in my heart I want to scream – you are too young, too little, too much mine to share with the rest of the world.

But… share I will, because they are also too wonderful, amazing, smart and funny to keep all to myself. And so begins the empty nest all over again….

So here’s something fun. Betcha had no idea, right? Today, is International Kiss A Ginger Day.

Go, grab your favorite ginger and give them a kiss! With their permission of course.

Evidently, this holiday has existed for about 7 years. It was started seven years ago as a counter on Facebook to the Kick a Ginger campaign. Kicking Gingers is not so nice and should not be condoned, what did the poor ginger folk ever do to you?

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Along these same lines, this guy called Tristan Rogers has set out to map all the redheads in the world. His project Mapping the World of Redheads can be found here.

To finish off today’s post about our ginger folk, here are some interesting ginger facts from USA Today:

  • The highest concentration of redheads is in Scotland (13%) followed by Ireland (10%). Worldwide, only 2% of people have red hair.
  • People with red hair are likely more sensitive to pain. This is because the gene mutation (MC1R) that causes red hair is on the same gene linked to pain receptors. It also means redheads usually need more anesthesia for dental and medical procedures.
  • Having red hair isn’t the only thing that makes some redheads unique. They are also more likely to be left handed. Both characteristics come from recessive genes, which like to come in pairs.
  • Redheads probably won’t go grey. That’s because the pigment just fades over time. So they will probably go blonde and even white, but not grey.
  • Rumor says Hitler banned marriage between redheads. Apparently he thought it would lead to “deviant offspring.”
  • Redheads most commonly have brown eyes. The least common eye color: blue.
  • Bees have been proven to be more attracted to redheads.
  • Being a redheaded man may have health benefits. A study published by the British Journal of Cancer suggested that men with red hair are 54% less likely to develop prostate cancer than their brown and blonde-haired counterparts.
  • Redheads actually have less hair than most other people. On average they only have 90,000 strands of hair while blonds, for example, have 140,000. However, red hair is typically thicker so it still looks just as full.

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2016-2017.
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