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It’s a very rainy day here. The weather is just plain old WRONG. It is the middle of January and while I don’t necessarily like the idea of a January thaw – I can accept it. What I cannot accept is the fact that it is pouring outside. Normally, the sound of rain tapping on the roof of my office is comforting but today it is just plain annoying. The day has been dreary and dark, the rain has been falling, the radar looks all green and gross. As you can see, I have nothing particularly uplifting to say, so I thought I would share some photos of our house that were very kindly given to us by a woman who lived here for a summer while she was a nursing student in the 1970s.

It was very nice of her to lend me her photo album to scan these pictures. We have a little bit of the history of the house, which always intrigues us. Who lived here before us? What parts of the house existed at that time and what did they look like?

Centerville house 7

The view from the front of the house is pretty much the same.

Centerville house 8

I love the sign that says “Sugar Hill” on the front of the house……

Centerville house 10

This is a picture of the “facilities” surprisingly, they were out of doors still in the 1970s.

Centerville house 11 Centerville house 12

For those of you familiar with our house now, this is how it looked before the addition of the den and garage which were put on sometime between this picture and when we purchased it.

Centerville house 1

Water was pumped in the kitchen.Centerville house 2

Centerville house 3

Centerville house 4

Centerville house 6

It was very foggy this morning on the hill. Most of it is gone by now…one of the perks of being up on the early side. The landscape recreates itself as the sun rises.





The pink of the sky and the white of snow made me leave the house in my pajamas no less to take this picture in 12 degree weather this morning.

Enjoy and have a wonderful Thursday – 6 days until Christmas! Oops – 8 days ’til Christmas – I got ahead of myself there.

Yesterday morning Tom and I took a drive over to Hanover, New Hampshire to visit our friend and neighbor, Tom French. For those of you who don’t know (and quite honestly I cannot imagine how you couldn’t know Tom) he suffered a stroke in February, four months ago this week. We had been all set to visit him while he was at Dartmouth, but the day set for our visit was the day that they decided to move him down to Salem.

I must say that I was a little apprehensive, but he is still the same old Tom. His verbal ability is limited, but that doesn’t really stop him from getting his point across. He recognized us right away and was most happy to see us. Tim made a card for him with lots of pictures and he was thrilled, it found a place on his bulletin board. He was sure to give us his guestbook for our signature and to show us the scrapbook that Laura has started for him. We went through each page and he nodded and pointed to various things.

He also has a box of cards and photos that rivals the weight of a bag of feed. It is apparently only about one month’s worth, so I am sure that there must be a few more like it in Laura’s possession. He took us on a tour of his new facility, smiling and waving and saying hi to various people along the way. It was nice to see Tom being Tom, something that I thought might be gone forever as a result of the stroke.

He also kept pointing to the calendar and counting off 4. We were puzzled, but after stewing on it over the afternoon, it occurred to me that he was trying to tell us that it would be 4 months since the stroke today. Ah, Tom – so much smarter than I am, evidently.

We happy to see him in such good spirits and to see that he recognizes and remembers so much. We brought my laptop and went over pictures of my boys, the Hill, the snow, the goats and the dogs. He even recognized our friends and my brother and voiced his amazement at how big our niece had gotten when we got to those pictures. When Tom showed him the video camera view of his house he recognized it and shrugged and sighed indicating that he knew he couldn’t go back just yet.

I’m glad that we got to visit with him and we’re looking forward to taking the boys back when the weather is a little warmer so we can go for a stroll outdoors together.

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday ~ Mary Schmich

This saying has always stuck in my head. It seems that as much as we may concern ourselves with our futures, there may be other plans for us – plans over which we have no control. There was a great cloud of sadness that passed over the Hill this weekend. It was the thing referred to by Ms. Schmich, the type of thing that you don’t think could happen and it blindsides you.

Our neighbor and dear friend, Tom French, originally introduced to us as the “mayor” of Sugar Hill, had a stroke while having dinner Thursday evening. This man, (I cannot even begin to tell those of you that have never met him, and to those of you who have, I don’t need to say anything more) is one of the most caring, generous, kind people that I have had the pleasure of knowing in my lifetime. He is outgoing like I could only imagine. He is the type of person that meets you once, listens (I mean really listens) to you and remembers it all. Should he meet you again, years from now or next week, he will recount the details of your conversation and ask about the family, friends or situations that you discussed during that initial conversation. He remembers and he cares. He is a regular visitor to our home and my boys enjoy talking to him and hanging out with him up at the cabin in the woods. For many of the young and older children here, he is a grandfather figure. For some of us, he is a cross between father, grandfather and friend. He is a force, his enthusiasm is contagious, his generosity without limits. He gives freely of himself and always has a story to tell.

Throughout the weekend, our little corner of Vermont became a gigantic web of information. Our phone has been ringing off the hook, much like everyone else’s. Any piece of information or news that any of us received was hungrily passed from person to person. We all prayed and hoped and wished that he would be okay. We received some encouraging news through this “grapevine” of concerned friends and neighbors. He has suffered a massive stroke. He has sustained left sided brain damage and presently has right sided paralysis. He is intubated so his speech is presently unknown. We hope that the swelling of his brain might reduce and take with it some of the paralysis. No one is sure at this point and of course, the danger exists, as it does in any stroke, that he may have another. He does have range of motion in his left side and he has shown signs of recognition and comprehension, responding to his family and caretakers.

We have prayed long and hard. Tom and I have spent the better part of the weekend, sitting around and staring at each other, thinking about Tom. We have known him since we bought this house, actually even before that. Of all the things that anyone could think, this was definitely not it. It was the blindside that struck us all like a slap in the face. It is the type of thing that leaves one struggling with how something like that, something that could rip everything from this man that gave so much of himself to all of us, could happen to such a nice man. It is a scary thing, a reminder that none of us really have control over our fate and that in and of itself is humbling and frightening and saddening. Today, tomorrow, next week one of us might not be here or might not be the person we knew. It brought a profound sense of sadness over me. Sadness for him and his family – sadness for me reminiscent of the stroke suffered by my grandfather and the way that the man that I knew left us that day, never to return. Hopefully, this is not the fate of Tom. He is strong and he is surrounded by love and faith – lots of both.

His family has set up a website to keep everyone apprised of his medical condition and give us all a place to leave our thoughts, prayers and good wishes for his recovery. Perusing through it is simply astounding. Well wishes and prayers are literally coming from around the world. I don’t think there is anyone in our neighborhood that hasn’t left their mark on the site.

If prayers have the ability to heal, then there is no doubt in my mind that this man should be up dancing the jig and singing his heart out in short order. The outpouring of love is amazing. He has truly touched the hearts of everyone that he has ever met.

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