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DC statehood campaign sign Photo Credit: Susan Walsh/AP

The state of New Columbia. Yesterday, the voters in the District of Columbia were given the opportunity to decide if they wish to become the 51st state in our union. According to the voters in the District of Columbia they voted 79% in favor of a petition requesting that Congress vote to permit Washington DC to become the 51st state. Yesterday DC voters said that they want (1) the State of New Columbia to be recognized by Congress as the 51st state in the union; (2) the approval of a state constitution; (3) the approval of the boundaries of the proposed new state; and (4) approval of elected representatives for the new state.

The approved petition will now be taken by the DC mayor to Congress with the hope that it will be presented on or before Inauguration Day for consideration. DC voters who do get three electoral votes have no representation in Congress. They hope that will change and that this petition for statehood is approved.

There are days that I wonder why it is that I choose to do what I do. There are days and then there are weeks. This was one of those weeks. It perfectly culminated in two things, a phone call where I actually couldn’t remember who I was calling or my own name since I had been on so many calls back-to-back this morning and then a short while later, when my phone rang, I couldn’t find it under all the papers on my desk. So, folks, I thought I’d share this little gem which just about sums it all up. 05c6e4b6c14213366d93d1c2a97c8264

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It happens to all of us at one time or another. We get knocked down, either figuratively or as more usual in my case, literally. I am really quite clumsy as those near and dear to my heart will confirm. I could go on at length to recount stories of this physical ineptness, but I diverge.

Here in this blog post we are discussing the figurative falling down. Last week almost exactly at this time, I had an interesting conversation with a company’s recruiter about a very interesting job possibility. It was exciting to have someone contact me, pretty much out of the blue, about an interesting opportunity that would meld my love of writing with my capabilities as an attorney. The weekend that followed was one that I haven’t had in a while, daydreams full of possibilities about what might be while working on some supplemental documentation that was requested from me.  I have learned that I am not a lucky one in a lot of respects and therefore generally resign myself to the pessimistic side of my own abilities and capabilities, but I succumbed on this one and actually became more and more intrigued by what seemed a pretty real potential opportunity and ever so slightly, more excited about this possible new chapter.

Did it work out? Short answer, no. Was I disappointed? Absolutely. But I did what a responsible adult that’s on the other side of the half-century mark would do (after my little emotional breakdown and pity party) and stood back up after that fall. I got up the next morning and did the job I have, not having the time to give much though to the remotely possible imaginary job I might have loved (or I might have hated). It was the stuff of daydreams and I had a great couple days imaging “what ifs” and feeling pretty flattered about being contacted at all. Lesson learned is that I was probably the most upset with myself that I let someone clear across the country have that kind of control over me and that I was that quick to fall. People don’t just get phone calls for potentially awesome job opportunities out of the blue that actually happen. At least not in my world.

If I were feeling optimistic, which I try to be, I would say that this means there is a better opportunity that awaits. Not sure I have gotten there yet. For now, I stood back up. That is enough.

This weekend’s project (which really did take most of the weekend) was to make tomato  paste. I never tackled this before but seemed like it was a worthwhile project to use the overabundance of ripe Roma tomatoes that had suddenly appeared in the basement.

When they were predicting frost a few weeks back, I picked pretty much every single tomato that was left on the vine, most of them, sadly still green as anything. It always is such a pain to do pulling all the tomatoes, particularly when its usually last minute and freezing out, but it seems so wasteful to let these beautiful summer fruits just freeze on the vines. Hence, my basement is now filled with trays and trays of green tomatoes. The problem is that many of them decided to ripen simultaneously. So what does one do with a bounty of tomatoes? There are many things that you can do and I have done a lot of them, yet the tomatoes continue to ripen and beckon for someone to do something with them. This seemed the next logical step.

What is absolutely amazing to me is how concentrated it becomes. I started out with 10 lbs of Roma tomatoes, which is a lot of tomatoes for this batch of paste.  I then split them in half, taking out the seeds and put them in a pot. Even split and cored, these tomatoes still filled a huge pot. The tomatoes boiled down for about an hour until they were soft. I then allowed them to cool and put them into the fridge overnight, for no other reason but my own schedule which did not permit me the time necessary for the next steps. The following day, I took those tomatoes out, put them through the food mill on a fine setting to get rid of the skins. I still ended up with a sauce pot full of cooked tomatoes. I added a couple teaspoons of kosher salt and allowed this to boil down for another hour or thereabouts until it was reduced by half. This mixtures was then spread onto a silicone sheet on a baking sheet (covering the whole sheet pan) and cooked for several hours — probably about 4-5 total at 200 degrees, stirring every 1/2 hour or so to keep it from burning until it was reduced down to a thick concentrated paste.  This paste amounted to two tiny little jars of paste. But these are not just ordinary jars of paste, no sir, they are tiny little jars of summer. Summer concentrated and squeezed into half pint mason jars covered with a thin layer of olive oil.

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They will now reside in my fridge and I will dip into them every time my cooking needs a little taste of summer. Covered with oil and refrigerated, they will last a year. Just in time to do it all again next summer.

 

DSCN3175I love the autumn — the crisp air, the colorful leaves, the warmth of the wood stove with a cup of tea and a good book. What I don’t like very much is when it’s dark in the morning and then dark again early in the evening. Evidently, I am not alone. The state of Massachusetts is exploring time travel of sorts. Massachusetts’ Bill H4569 creates a legislative commission to study the proposal of moving time in the state of Massachusetts. Rather than remain in the Eastern time zone, the bill charges the commission with exploring the possibility of moving time zones to Atlantic Standard time for a period of four months starting in the middle of November if the proposal was accepted. This would mean that folks in Massachusetts would have light lasting longer into their day. According to the Portland Press Herald, a sort of “sunlight happy hour” while the rest of us are in the dark before we leave our workday behind us during those months. Don’t get all practical on me with things like “it will mess up the rest of us” or “what about business hours and flight schedules, yada yada yada….” A girl can dream can’t she?

Now, if they could just make it so that the hour happened in the morning instead of the evening, I would be totally on board.

Sounds like a great mystery book or a movie title, but it’s not. This week in Vermont is Open Farm Week. It gives those of us who love to wander through farmers’ markets and eat fresh from the farm produce a chance to see what actually goes on at your favorite farm and learn more about agriculture and farming in our lovely state. This opportunity gives a whole new meaning to “learning where your food came from” as you have the opportunity to not only see where it came from, but meet the folks behind your favorite fare in their own environment — and even lend a hand and see what it’s like to be a farmer for a few hours. A great opportunity to gain even greater appreciation for the men and women who are behind the farmers’ market tables each and every week.

There are farms all over the state of Vermont that are opening their barn doors for you! Of course, Vermont farmers are so friendly and welcoming that you don’t need a special week to visit your favorite farmer. But, I digress.

Here is a sampling of some of the things you can do this week at a farm near you. You could even schedule a whole week of farm fun and take a tour of Vermont farms, taking in their uniqueness as each of these places puts their own special twist on farming and for that, we are very grateful.

Merck Forest and Farmland Center will teach you all about draft horses and maybe even get the opportunity to help drive them around the farm.

Health Hero Farm is having cooking classes demonstrating how to cook their fresh beef.

Have a Farm to Table Dinner by the gardens at Boyd Family Farm in Wilmington. The proceeds for this dinner go to charity.

Take a nature photography course at the Smokey House in Danby.

You can also visit an alpaca farm, visit a vineyard or visit a mushroom farm. There are lots of choices and really something for everyone. Take advantage of really learning where your food comes from this week. You’ll be glad that you did.

Here’s the recipe for bracciole, let me say up front that I cannot take any credit for the recipe, it is my mom’s and my grandma’s recipe. I am merely proud that I am able to continue the tradition.

IMG_5560Bracciole

Makes 6

  • 6 pieces of bracciole meat (for those of you that are local to me Wallingford Locker has great bracciole meat)
  • 12 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup raisins divided into six portions
  • 6 pieces of garlic finely chopped
  • grated cheese of your choice (I use asiago or romano)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • butcher’s twine cut into six pieces each cut about 2 feet in length
  1. Take meat and season with salt and pepper.IMG_5565
  2. Place two slices of bacon on each piece of bracciole
  3. Sprinkle with grated cheese of your choiceIMG_5557
  4. Add one portion of raisins sprinkled on top
  5. Add one chopped clove of garlic to each piece of meat.IMG_5566
  6. Roll each piece up. I find that it is easiest to roll up starting from the smaller or thinner end. If any of the raisins or cheese fall out as you are rolling, just stick them back inside.IMG_5561
  7. When meat is rolled, tie each with a piece of butcher’s twine.
  8. Place in tomato sauce of your choice and cook on low heat for 3-4 hours. You could probably put them into a slow cooker with your sauce and cook for 6-8 hours although I have not tried this myself.
  9. When ready to serve, remove each bracciole packet from sauce, cut the twine off (this is important, no one likes string in their dinner!), slice each with a sharp knife into four pieces and serve.
  10. Enjoy!

Makes me so proud my heart feels like it will burst.

Made me a mom for the third time when he was born into our family.

Is funny and talented and handsome and smart.

Knows more history facts than most people I know combined.

Has a heavenly voice that I can listen to forever and ever.

Is going to do amazing things in the future.

Turns 19 today.

Happy Birthday Tim,

Love Mom (a/k/a your first and biggest fan)IMG_4411

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I have been trying, for several years to grow lavender. Last year, I had beautiful plants that I grew from seed but didn’t flower much but were hardy. I brought them in to over-winter since the prior year’s plants that I bought as young plants didn’t survive. Guess what, the hardy plants died on me.

This year, (third time’s a charm) I purchased several small lavender plants in late spring and put three together in one planter and the fourth elsewhere in the yard. Guess what, all four of them are flowering with lots of flowers on each plant.

Mind you, they aren’t those lush lavender plants that you see in photos, the fields of lavender, but they are my four little plants and they are alive and they are flowering. That makes me happy. In fact, ridiculously happy — I’ve been trying so hard to grow this for years now. Today, I harvested my first bunch of lavender flowers to dry and couldn’t resist snapping this picture to mark this rather monumental (in my book at least) occasion.

This is particularly good news since the garden is coming along, but slowly. It is the battle of Tammy v. the Vole (or vole family, not sure yet). I plant, it eats. I plant more, it eats more. I douse my plants in castor oil, cayenne and dish soap and, you guessed, they are eaten (although it did take a few days). I pull out the Italian mama’s size jar of crushed red pepper, cover my little plants in red pepper (haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to get that pepper completely all out of the lettuce – so house guests beware!) but it has managed to slow the critters down. Next step, break out the Irish spring soap – my mom told me that would work and I’m ready to give it a shot. I am hopeful that as the little plants grow (grow plants, grow!) they will become less appetizing and the critters will go elsewhere for their green veggie intake.

So….you see, a little tiny bunch of lavender is really a pretty monumental thing in my world of gardening these days.

 

The Fourth of July is a colorful holiday. The red, white and blue of the flag and patriotic decor is everywhere. Fireworks fill the dark night sky with shades of pink, red, blue, yellow and green. This week, in the garden, another colorful explosion started to take place. Our lilies, which are a beautiful pale shade of pink. started opening one by one and now the flower bed is just full of beautiful flowers. The baby’s breath is spreading through the same bed. The perennials are making their appearance, one by one and color is coming, slow but sure, to the yard.

I have been so wrapped up in the things I have to get done that I have forgotten the pure pleasure I get from taking my camera outside and snapping some pictures, memorializing this brief, but beautiful, time of the summer. These pictures, like the flowers represented in them, have made me smile, capturing the color that the warm sun in July brings to the yard. I hope they make you smile as well. Happy Friday!

I have never had a great love affair with the news industry. I can never understand why the news is generally laden with all the horrific things going on in the world and they sometimes can tuck a “feel good” story somewhere in the broadcast to justify that it’s not all bad news. Why don’t we hear more of the good that goes on in the country and the world?  Years ago, when we lived in New Jersey, our clock radio was set to a news station. I hated that before my eyes were even open for the day, I was bombarded with everything that was wrong with world and very little that was right. After hearing all the “news” I had little desire to even get out of bed and start my day – why bother? The world is a miserable place.

News reporting, in the present day, leans toward the sensational more than the factual. It seems to be the running fervently toward the “most sensational”, “most bloody”, “most outrageous” story. Our modern day news reporting in this country generally bears far more resemblance to the supermarket tabloid front pages of my younger days than to the noble art of journalism.

To that end, there were a significant number of of major newspapers in this country which ran various pictures of the person who was responsible for the Orlando shooting in yesterday’s front pages. His face was plastered across the news media outlets online and on television. I have a real problem with this. Why is his photo gaining this type of attention? This is not a manhunt, he is dead, therefore, no one needs to be “on the lookout” for him, no one needs to know what he looks like so he can be identified, captured and held accountable for his actions. There is absolutely no need, in my opinion, for the attacker to be personalized, for his name to spoken or written or his image flashed across the front page of newspapers and television screens. He gave little thought to the faces of the those that he killed, those that were injured, those who survived the deceased and whose lives will never be the same. Why does the media need to give him an identity and publicity? Give his cause publicity? Why was he not referred to as a “nameless, faceless” attacker? Why do media outlets feel the need to personalize him, to prop him up on the podium of front page news, giving him not only a picture, a name, but also a background, a story? There were interviews with his parents, interviews with those that knew him, why? He is a criminal, he is a barbarian, he does not deserve that media recognition. The publicity he receives, in my opinion, serves to only ignite others like him, who see that they also may be “celebrities” in their death for their cause, gaining front page access to major American newspapers. His name should not be mentioned, his face should not be shown. He did not do anything that earned him that honor.

There are many true heroes, good individuals who do noble things who will never, ever in their lifetime earn the distinction of their photo on the front page of the New York Times or any other major American newspaper. Their stories and their faces will never receive that journalistic honor and distinction. Yet, a person who horrifically and cowardly struck down innocent people who were caught by him inside a building earned that villain this distinction. Our society is fundamentally flawed, when our news media believed that showing his picture and telling his story was a better “scoop” than the hundreds and hundreds of people who stood in line to donate blood to the injured that day, or the gofundme campaign that raised a million dollars for those victims and their families in record time due to the donations by thousands of people or the local businesses and organizations that came out to provide food and drinks to those trying to help or waiting for news or the first responders who worked tirelessly to retrieve and treat the injured and identify the deceased so that their families would know the answer to the terrible question – did my loved one survive? The faces of those that were gunned down by a maniac didn’t get their pictures on the front page the day after the shooting, even though some of their identities were known at that time. Innocent people died simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, yet those people didn’t earn the distinction of front page news like the loathsome creature that slaughtered them. That, my dear friends, is just a small part of what irks me about news media and the way our society’s values lie.

Along with the many other changes that need to come from this horrific incident, perhaps maybe news organizations won’t give acknowledgement to those miscreants and their organizations, further fueling their fires. I can only hope.

After almost ten years of living here (wow, has it been that long?) I am still amazed by the wildlife. Regularly on my walks with Moxie, I will see grouse scare the crap out of her in the woods and squirrels, birds and the occasional fox. We see deer often and some of us have seen turkeys a little too close up for comfort (as in flying at your windshield). Years ago, we’ve seen the occasional moose walk through our yard, although my sister thinks I’ve made this up since she’s never seen one up here. It never gets old.

Yesterday, while we were driving on Route 103 just a couple miles from our house there was a young black bear crossing the road. I don’t often see bear and we couldn’t help but wonder if it was “our” bear, the one that was living on our neighbor’s porch last year that was rescued.

Here are some pictures. True testament to the fact that you never know what you might see on the roads in Vermont.

Evilwife on the move

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