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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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

A couple years ago, Tom went out and bought himself a fat tire bike when his knee was acting up. The orthopedist’s advice was to keep his knee moving without jarring it too much and causing further damage. He suggested biking. Tom did his research and while we both have mountain bikes, they are probably as old (if not older) than the wedding anniversary we just celebrated. He wanted a new bike and the idea of a fat tire bike intrigued him. It would give him the ability to have a little more four season biking opportunity. When he showed up with his new bike that looked quite odd at the time, I really didn’t quite get it. We had mountain bikes, which could go almost anywhere, why fat tires? He seems to enjoy it, and he can go places (like the beach) where my little old mountain bike just can’t handle because of its fat tires. But alas, fat tires on their own can get you a lot of places but they still don’t work well when there is ice and snow on the ground. So, he has lusted after studded tires for his fat bike for a while. Honestly, we couldn’t justify the expense of another set of tires for a bike, when there were trucks that needed tires and the costs could actually be somewhat similar on a per tire basis.

When we were up in Stowe last weekend, we came across a fat tire bike convention/gathering of sorts that we decided to stop at and take a walk around. The place where he bought his bike, up in Burlington, Old Spokes Home (don’t you love that name?) had a tent with some cool bikes and accessories. Lo and behold they had some studded tires at a great price. I treated my sweetie to an early birthday present.

The next day, after doing some research, he decided to give a try to change over the tires himself. A few hours which included a complete clean up of the bike and reassembly and  the studded tires were on. He took it for a test drive on our icy roads and had nothing but good things to say about the studded tires. I think that this will make the snow/ice riding much more pleasurable and falls due to the bike slipping and sliding, less likely to happen.

If you are a fat tire biker and are debating the studded tires, I can say that they work, I’ve seen it up close.

 

 

img_5071We went away to do some cross country skiing for our anniversary. Both of us used to downhill ski, one of us was much better than the other, but we don’t want to give him a bigger ego so we won’t mention any names. Then I took up cross country skiing since I could literally walk out my side door put on my skis and go off into the woods behind our house and ski, no lugging of skis, boots, poles, accoutrements into and out of vehicle, driving, etc.

Some days, I would bundle up like I was headed off into the tundra, which sometimes best describes that area in our yard where we park our vehicles, and then as I made each loop through the yard I would shed gloves, the hat, a scarf or even my jacket – you get the picture, I obviously bundled up too much. The nice thing about skiing right outside your door was that I could just go inside by skiing back to my doorstep, no lugging  of equipment, no driving, no changing.

Tom started joining me and the loops through the woods got longer, mostly because he knows his way around the woods far better than I. To say I am a bit directionally challenged would make those that know me laugh hysterically, but I wouldn’t wander too far into the trails alone in the woods for fear I might never make it out.

This was the first time that we actually went to a nordic center to ski. It was nice, the trails were well groomed and wide. While it was nice and we had a fun day, it did make us appreciate our own little “trail system” all that much more. Often, you need to wander away from home to realize just how lucky you are with what you have and often take for granted.

 

 

img_5921When I was growing up, the Christmas tree never came down before Little Christmas. Little Christmas is also known as the feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany is when the three kings arrived to visit the baby Jesus. Do you know the names of these kings? Not something that I remembered learning during my Catholic school education, but their names were evidently believed to be Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar. Little Christmas also marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas which run from December 25th through January 5th. It is the traditional end of the Christmas season and I guess that is where the tradition of “de-Christmassing” the house came from in my family. Taking the decorations down before that date is considered to be bad luck in some countries.

In Ireland, Little Christmas or January 6th is known as Nollaig na mBan or Women’s Christmas since, particularly in Cork and Kerry (happens to be where our families were from), it is the day that the Irish men take over the household duties and watch the children so the women can go out and celebrate with friends and other female family, marking the end of their duties as hostesses in charge of the holiday visitors.

In Italy, they celebrate Epifania, which is a holiday where Italian children would put out stockings and find gifts from La Befana, an old woman who is said to deliver gifts to children on the Epiphany. She is said to sweep the floors when she arrives, to sweep out the problems of the old year. Italian children leave her a glass of wine and a bite to eat  a better deal some would say than Santa has going for him).

So, see no matter which side of the family you look to for me (Irish or Italian)  Little Christmas has significance. There is another reason the day has special meaning in our family.

January 6th marked my dad’s brother, my uncle’s birthday. Here’s a picture that my brother recently found of my dad (on the left) with my uncle Eddie (on the right). Both of them have left us (too soon) but I can never think of Little Christmas without also thinking of him. Somewhere, I am sure the both of them are smiling down on us. They are both dearly missed.

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Sledding.

At night.

During a snowstorm.

In a cemetery.

On cardboard boxes.

With flashlights.

First date.

36 years ago.

Today.

He will always argue it was actually tomorrow since it carried on past midnight…..

He is wrong.

But I still love him.  🙂

 

img_5953Years ago, my grandmother gave me her Belleek tea set. The set was packaged up very carefully by my mom more than 25 years ago so that it would be safe since at the time I wasn’t married and didn’t have a place for it. It has been packed away safely like that up until last year, when I finally worked up the courage to unpack that box. It required a complete rearrangement of the cabinet that would host it in order to clear a special shelf for the delicate Irish bone china set that was cherished by my grandmother.

When I unpacked the box, I realized that while I had the tea cups, saucers, dessert plates, creamer and sugar bowl, I did not have the tea pot. Somewhere in my mind, the tea pot was supposed to be there, but sadly it must have got damaged all those years ago and never made it into the box so carefully packed. For Christmas one year ago, my husband bought me a Belleek tea pot with the same pattern as the tea cups.  I now had a complete set, but still not enough courage to actually use it.

Today, more than a quarter century later, it was finally used and enjoyed. Four of us carefully took down the pot, cups and saucers, brewed some delicious tea (Monkey Picked Oolong) and enjoyed that beautiful china Nanny gave to me all those years ago. Somewhere, I am certain she was smiling, watching her great grandson, his girlfriend, Tom and I enjoy a few cups of tea and the warm, delightful memories of family on a cold winter afternoon.

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The end of the year we are taught is always a time to take stock of your life, your world, your body. Explore what you like, vow to discard or improve what you don’t. It is a time of hope, promise, a blank slate. Honestly, though, isn’t each day a chance to do all those things?

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Last night, we were fortunate to spend some wonderful, quality time with friends, sharing food and laughter. Grateful always for my family, dear friends who share the bonds of many years, tears and laughter with us and those that have touched our lives and become an important part of our world here in Vermont. Most of all, grateful for the men in my life, who are my personal reason for living each day.

Instead of wishing our lives away, be thankful for what was and enjoy what will be and live each moment you are blessed to have. Mindful of your blessings and with a heart full of gratitude, welcome the new page on the calendar. Happy 2017!

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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

Evilwife on the move

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