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The past couple days the road at the bottom of the hill has been closed due to railroad track repairs.  That for us is the easiest and most direct route to Rutland and Ludlow. I have become very accustomed to living here. Driving to get somewhere isn’t really all that big of a deal, however, when a commonly traveled road is closed, it can put a kink in your plans. For instance, one of the boys forgot the other day and for some unknown reason the huge traffic sign indicating that the road was closed from that direction was located about 100 feet from the actual road closure. Not much for notice especially since by that time you have driven the better part of 15 minutes to get to the closed road. Needless to say, he was not a happy boy. Despite attempting to negotiate with the crew working explaining that he lived just on the other side of the closed road, he was forced to turn around drive the 15 minutes down to Route 7 and then into Wallingford and up the other side of the closed road to get home. Not a good time.

As I was driving today, thankfully remembering that the road was closed and actually purposefully driving out of my way in order to go to the post office (which of course happened to be right on the very other side of the road closure) I realized that we do indeed live on a mountain (although we refer to it as a hill) and there aren’t but a few ways to get from one side to the other. Unfortunately, if you are like my son, hopefully you remember before you trek miles essentially on what was for all practical purposes a dead end road and have to turn around.

After traveling to the post office (and double checking that the road was indeed still closed for repairs – because would I have felt stupid if I drove all those extra miles when the road was open) I turned around and cut across the only other way between here and there. In the words of Mr. Frost – the road less traveled (which these past couple days has most likely seen more traffic than normal). It was a very beautiful late summer day.

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This afternoon, the sun was perfect and I got out the camera and took these:

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Photo Credit: Vermont Farmers Food Center

Photo Credit: Vermont Farmers Food Center

Today at the Farmer’s Market we were just about to walk out the door when I spotted it…the table selling seeds. (Must be my gardener’s instinct). Lots and lots of different kinds of seeds. When I walked over and spoke to the mom that was with the kids at this table I learned a lot and thought that I would share for a very good cause.

The table belongs to a group of Shrewsbury homeschool kids that are conducting a fundraiser for the Vermont Farmers Food Center (a/k/a The Farmer’s Market) selling Fedco seeds. These kids –Silas Hamilton, Seamus and Avery Martin, Cedelle and Emmett Sirjane, and Manolo Zelkin with the help of parents, Licia Gambino Hamilton and Martha Sirjane are hoping to raise $3,500 to donate to the Center.

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Since I’m not writing for the Rutland Express anymore (since they stopped publication) and I miss that ability to connect the cool things and people that I come across with people that might not know about them, I thought that I would post here about this group and their efforts in the hopes that folks in the area who plant their own seeds would take advantage of this fundraiser and help these kids with their goal. These kids are selling a variety of Fedco seeds (over 30 different types) to raise money for the Farmer’s Market to help with the work that remains to be done in and around the building and grounds. The kids have a table at the market and have set up and designed their own website http://seedsworthsowing.webs.com/ and Facebook page where they can be found at Seeds Worth Sowing. They’ve even hand stamped (in multi color, mind you) each and every one of their seed packets. Making a very delightful display as you can see.

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You can purchase your seeds in person at the Farmer’s Market, or you can order them by mail and you can pick up an order farm locally from Pierce’s Store or Mount Holly Library. You can also download an order form while in your pajamas from the comfort of your own living room from their website (for my very lazy friends).  If you mail in your order form, you can pick up your seeds from Pierce’s Store on March 21 from 3-6 p.m. or at the Mount Holly Library on March 24th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or at the Rutland Farmer’s Market on March 16th or April 6th from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For the charge of mailing ($1.95 to $15 = $3.95 shipping fee; $16 & up = $5.95 shipping fee) they will even be happy to mail your seeds to you so you can just walk to the mailbox for your seeds. So, friends of mine that are not in Vermont and want seeds, go to their website, download the form, mail it in with your payment and wait for your seeds to arrive via the postal service from our lovely little state of Vermont.

The group extended its original order deadline to March 31st — so I encourage you to take advantage of getting some good seeds to get that garden started and help out an industrious group of kids with their ambitious (and totally doable) goal of raising $3,500. After all, any of us that shop at the Farmer’s Market will benefit from their hard work in raising these funds.

 

Yesterday was like the traffic day from hell. I had to make a couple trips to Rutland during the day and both times it would have been convenient to cut across Stratton Road. There was some type of construction or road work and a detour and then the failure to post that when you go all the way around and go back up by the hospital you cannot make a left turn, necessitating going all the way back down to Route 7. Now, for those of you from back in Jersey or elsewhere, go ahead and laugh at me, because you know that when I talk traffic here it isn’t even the same species as traffic back there, but when you are trying to get from point A to point B, it can be a little frustrating. Throw in there the parade of motorcyclists that were cruising at well below the speed limit on route 103 and the smattering of various motor homes and travel trailers navigating through Rutland on vacation and it was enough to make my head explode. All I wanted to to was to get out of the car, at home, parked. On the way up the hill, I came around the corner to the parade of cows coming down the hill. Normally there is radio communication which stops traffic at the bottom of the hill, well out of the way of the cows, but radios were malfunctioning and you didn’t know that the cows were coming home, well — until you almost ran into them.

Tim and I were amused by the cows sniffing and drooling as they made their way past our vehicle. There were even a couple who looked rather annoyed that they had to move to get around our stopped car. Overall, it was a pretty amusing end to my traffic episode and provided some much needed laughter at the end of a rather hectic day.

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ImageWe had the pleasure of attending a wonderful concert at Grace Church Saturday night. Had it not been for Tim performing, we most likely would have missed out on some truly wonderful music. The Mill River Senior Chorus was invited to perform at a concert alongside Penn State University’s Essence of Joy choral group directed by Tony Leach. The kids, along with several other local choral groups got to spend the day working alongside the famous Penn State Chorus and its world re-known conductor.

We were treated to a two plus hour concert that quite literally rocked the church with the sounds of gospel and spiritual music. It was beautiful and a great opportunity for the kids. The final set of music was performed by all the groups together.

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I am Vermont strong.

The phrase has become a mantra for Vermonters. Following Tropical Storm Irene, portions of Vermont were completely devastated as you probably remember, either from living it here or from hearing about it there where you are.  Two Rutland individuals came up with the slogan in an effort to create a viral Facebook campaign. Instead, the two started a whole lot more.

In the own words from their website, the two explain a bit about themselves and the origin of I am Vermont strong.

What started out as an attempt to create a viral Facebook campaign with an image and a strong message of hope has turned into a successful fundraising effort for disaster relief organizations. Lyz Tomsuden and Eric Mallette, two native Vermonters now residing in Rutland, created the I Am Vermont Strong image with simple intention of manufacturing good energies out of a bad situation.

“We really just wanted to see if we could help show the world that we Vermonters are a unfied front in the battle against the devastating losses suffered by our state in the recent hurricane.” commented Eric Mallette.

“From there, it kind of went crazy!” added, Lyz Tomsuden, who created the image. “First we noticed everyone we know on Facebook was changing their profile pictures to the ‘Vermont Strong’ image. That’s when the requests for t-shirts started pouring in… by the hundreds!”

All proceeds will benefit Vermont not-for-profits dedicated to helping with Vermont recovery efforts!

Yesterday, Govenor Shumlin signed a law creating the I am Vermont strong license plate. The plate, which costs $25 is available for purchase. Proceeds from the sale of the plate to go to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund. While it is my understanding that anyone can buy the plates, Vermont registered vehicles are permitted to replace their regular front license plate with the I am Vermont strong plate until 2014.

If you’re from Vermont consider purchasing a plate to support the effort. If you’re from away, but your heart lives in Vermont, consider purchasing a plate to show your support.

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There are some very amazing people I get to meet as a result of writing for the Rutland County Express.They are inspirational to me. People often comment that I’m industrious with all the plates I appear to be spinning at the same time, but when I get a chance to interview other people, it really isn’t all that industrious or amazing.What some of my interviewees are up to is far more interesting and inspiring than anything that I appear to be doing.

The reason that I love the writing, (well, besides the fact that I love writing) is that I’m not a very outgoing person on my own, so if it weren’t for “having” to find something or someone to write about each week, I might not have found some of the nicest and most inspiring people in our area. It forces me out of my shell and I’m lucky to have a great deal of leeway in what I choose to write about each week, I can be flexible and go along with what catches my eye or something interesting I’ve noticed.

For instance, this morning I had an opportunity to sit down with Ryan and Kara of Evening Song Farm which is located just down the road (Vermont-style, of course) on Route 103 by the Cuttingsville/Wallingford border. I have been passing this plot of land which was home to a lot of stuff on the lawn before Kara and Ryan purchased it for the better part of almost a year and watching the transformation of this property. Little by little, fields have been tilled and hoop houses set up, manure was spread, more tilling and then recently, lots of activity and green things growing.

The 20-ish couple (Kara is originally  from Teaneck NJ – geez– it’s really a small world) purchased the land and started their own farm. They previously ran a successful small vegetable farm with CSA in Pennsylvania. Originally looking to start a farm in northern Vermont and unable to find a suitable spot, by sheer luck they found this property right on the bank of river, which they now call home, along with their adorable puppy Echo.

The couple are selling CSA shares for their farm which is really rather neat, since there aren’t any local CSAs close to us. CSA is community supported agriculture and essentially you buy a share, entitling you to a portion of the harvest from the farm during the growing season. The member picks up their share once a week on a designated day. The shares are usually a fixed assortment of whatever is ready for harvest that week, along with accompanying recipes. Evening Song Farm is offering a different twist on CSA – a “free choice” share. Essentially instead of getting a fixed basket of veggies and be damned those of you who hate broccoli or tomatoes, etc., Kara and Ryan will give their CSA members choice of what items they want to fill their share for that week (barring some unusual circumstance where a specific crop is very limited). So, the salad lovers, can fill their share with all salad fixings, the broccoli lovers can gorge and the adventurous souls can load up with all sorts of goodies that they’ve never tried before. It’s a great idea even if you have your own home garden, since, let’s face it, we all can’t grow everything that we’d like to.

They are also going to sell at the local farmer’s markets five days a week.

Today, after our interview and photos, they offered me a bag of pea shoots which I most gratefully accepted. I then rushed home, wrote my article, submitted it and broke into the pea shoots.

Damn. They are good. Here is how they were transformed by me into lunch.

I mean, seriously, look at how nicely Kate & Ryan’s delicious pea shoots fit in with my fried rice mix-together lunch.

Lunch was delicious and my morning conversation with Kara and Ryan certainly was amazing and inspiring.  I hope that they have a very successful year of farming.

By the way, that awesome sign in the picture was designed and painted by Kara and the frame was crafted by Ryan from timber from his father’s grove. Talk about inspirational!

Okay, well maybe not the whole world, that would be pretty darn amazing wouldn’t it? I guess that I mean my own little corner of the world. Tom made it home safely and what a good day to be a Friday! I had another good walk (2 miles – 1 car, lots of birds) Mother’s Day cards were sent, flowers sent, laundry done (I mean every last article of clothing). It can mean only one thing-onslaught of the children. We are headed out tonight to see the boys’ friends band at a little coffeehouse in Rutland and then it appears that everyone is coming back to our house for a sleepover. What’s better than a houseful of boys? I don’t know I have no experience with anything else. Let’s see how many bodies tonight brings us. Maybe I’ll do challah bread for french toast in the morning. See, I told you everything is right with the world. :)

Happy Friday!

IMG00138This morning we went over to the public H1N1 clinic in Rutland to get vaccinations for the boys and Tom. It was less chaotic than expected. While we arrived to what appeared to be quite the line, it really wasn’t so bad we were out of there by 11:45. There were in fact two lines set up, one for adults and one for children. The children’s line was in fact, pretty short considering so many of the school clinics had been pushed off. That was, in fact, the reason that the boys were there. Their school clinic set for November 13th had been postponed into early December. Since all three boys reported that there were a lot  of their classmates who have been out with what is presumed to be the “flu”, it seemed better to try to get them vaccinated sooner rather than later, since later could become much, much later. The boys were off from school today for Veteran’s Day, so it seemed a logical opportunity. We arrived at about 9:30 for the 10 a.m. clinic. Everything went well except, poor Tim, the kid who fears needles the most had to have the injection twice. The nurse drew back blood with the first injection and had to do it all again. Poor kid, he has miserable luck.IMG00139

The good news is that my entire family is now vaccinated. The bad news is that it doesn’t include me. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your perspective) I am healthy and don’t qualify at this juncture for the vaccination. Our youngest boy, alarmed by the fact that I was the only one not getting a shot, asked me why I just didn’t tell them that I needed it too since we were there. I had to explain to him that I didn’t qualify. He responded that it wasn’t fair since I could get sick and the prospect of coming down with the swine flu frightens him. I explained to him that since he and his dad both have asthma, he knew that it was important for them to vaccinated, along with his brothers, ages 13 and 14. He nodded. I explained how unfair it would be if they couldn’t get their shots because someone ahead of us in line lied and said they fit into the high risk groups when in fact they didn’t and shots which would have otherwise gone to us, went to someone who really didn’t need it right now. He understood that it wouldn’t be fair to other people behind us to do that, and it would be lying. He got it. He didn’t like it, but he got it.

After all, the way I look at it, is I get to garner all the sympathy in the house if I get sick. All the attention will be mine, just mine since the rest of them are piggy proofed.

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Photo: The Institute of Heraldry

“Godspeed” a word, a wish, a hope. It is a wish for a speedy, successful, safe journey. The phrase is used in the launching of naval vessels and during NASA space flights.

It is our wish for those Vermonters, 1210 in all, who will be deployed to Afghanistan for Task Force Phoenix. The task force is established to help train Afghan Army and Security Forces to combat terrorism within their borders. There are 33 troops deploying alone from Rutland and 4 from our own town. These are neighbors and friends, familiar faces as we go about our daily lives here in a small town in a small state, who will be conspicuously absent in the next year. We appreciate their dedication and their bravery. Their families will undoubtedly have a “blue” Christmas without them and all of our lives will be emptier without them.

All we can offer in return for their efforts is a promise that as a community, we will help their families where needed, keep them in our thoughts and prayers and hope, just a little, to temper the hole their absence will create in the lives of their families.  We wish them Godspeed, a safe and quick journey on their appointed tasks.

Here is video footage of Tim’s team’s Odyssey of the Mind float that participated in the Rutland Halloween parade. It was a rainy night, but these kids spent 2 hours in the rain, some of it pouring to participate. All three of my boys wound up helping out. Tim’s the one driving the car (on the float, not the truck pulling it!)

Video courtesy of PEGTV through Tim Vile

DSCN1594Everyone associates Vermont with certain things – maple syrup, fall foliage and skiing. But Halloween? Vermont boasts the country’s largest and longest running Halloween parade in the country. The parade takes place every year, like clockwork on Halloween night at 6:30 p.m. This year the Rutland Halloween Parade turns 50. The parade has run every year  with the exception of one year, 1962 when it was canceled due to the weather. Last year, one of the original founders of the parade, Tom Fagan died on October 21st. He desired not to miss the parade in the event of his death and there was serious talk about putting him in the parade – despite the fact that he was dead. I kid you not. Ultimately, he didn’t make it, but imagine what sort of stories that would have created for generations to come? A parade so good, you even come when you’re dead.

The parade, some would argue, lacks the glitz and glamour associated with that other famous Halloween Parade, the one that takes place in Greenwich Village, NYC. Others, like myself, would disagree. The parade takes community to another level, only the way Vermont can do it. Hay wagons and manure spreaders are transformed into floats, school bands, community groups and even the sheep and cows march in the parade. Everyone can march and everyone participates, whether you are the one throwing the candy (Mardi Gras style) or the one in the crowds, collecting it. The streets are lined with people, more people than one would see at any other time in Rutland or at any one place in Vermont for that matter.

We have been attending the parade for years now, even before we moved here permanently. Once the boys found out that you could stand in one spot and collect an entire sack full of candy and assorted goodies, all while being entertained, they were hooked.

This year, Tim’s Odyssey of the Mind team will have a float in the parade. This means that two of the boys will be parade participants. I promised them that somehow they wouldn’t miss out on the candy, and I guess that I should get cracking on that one, since time is a wastin’.

If you are in the Rutland area, I would highly suggest that you endure the Vermont-style crowds and take in the parade, it is well worth it.

Too often, the news is crowded with what is wrong in the world. Crime in its many ugly forms–murder, theft, burglary. Very infrequently is there ever a story about anything good – which is a shame. But in Saturday’s Rutland Herald there was an article about a hiker who found a wallet on the side of Route 7 which contained some cash, credit cards and a diamond ring. The 24-year-old, from NYC who was hiking the Long Trail spotted the wallet over the guardrail. He feared that something had happened to the wallet’s owner and there was no driver’s license in the wallet.

He was already well on his way into his trip and too far to hike all the way back to Rutland to the authorities. When he returned home one week later, he set out to find the wallet’s owner. After many tries, he was lucky enough to have a video store call the owner of the wallet, who in turn was able to reach out to the 24-year-old. After the contents of the wallet and the ring were successfully identified, the man returned the wallet by express delivery to its owner. The woman who lives a couple towns over from us, was reported to be thrilled to have her wallet and her ring back.

The man, who wouldn’t accept a monetary reward from the wallet’s owner, remarked that the good karma from doing a good deed for someone was more than enough reward.  Nice to know that there are honest people out there in the world. Nice, as a mother, to know that our children can be raised to do the right thing.

The complete story can be found here.

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