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Once again, we need to read between the lines and maybe, just maybe, read the lines themselves, rather than let the media do the reading and interpreting for us. The new law passed in North Carolina is more than just a law regulating the use of public bathrooms in the state.

At the time of the Boston marathon bombing, we had a very interesting discussion at our dining room table to explain to the boys why, as horrible as it might seem at that time, that the suspected bomber needed to have his rights protected. The basic reason, is because they are your rights and my rights too. It is a very slippery slope that we go down when we think it’s okay to take away one person’s rights or deny one his or her rights. While it might seem perfectly fine under one circumstance (think the marathon bomber), what happens when it’s your turn and your rights that are up for grabs? Not so okay now is it? Like it or not, the rights we have apply to all of us, not just the ones that we pick and choose under the circumstances. When folks were opening up their doors to allow police to search their homes, how many invoked that wonderful little right called the 4th Amendment and said, no. No, you cannot just come into my home police, without a warrant and search it. Not now, not ever, because my constitutional rights say so.

If you actually read the new law in North Carolina, it has two parts. One part regulates the use of public restroom facilities and limits their use to a single sex based upon a person’s biological sex. The second part, entitled the Wage and Hour Act prevents any local government (read: city or town) from passing any law, ordinance or regulation that regulates the minimum wage in the state. That means that any person in North Carolina, not just transgender folks are subject to North Carolina’s whim on whether or not to raise the minimum wage. The minimum wage in North Carolina is presently $7.25 per hour. Unlike other places in the country where cities have chosen to raise the minimum wage because they recognize that living in a city may be more expensive, cities are now prohibited from any such actions.

The law addresses the minimum wage, and does not allow any local government to set a minimum wage.“The legislature took that power expressly away, so forbade any local government from raising the minimum wage beyond what federal and state law require,” Charlotte Law School Professor Brian Clarke said.

To give you an idea of why folks, all folks not just the transgender and LBGQ folks should be jumping up and down in protest, many places in the country have enacted $15 minimum wages. Realize this means that minimum wage workers in North Carolina are getting paid just about 1/2 of what other people working minimum wage jobs can get paid. Here in little tiny Vermont our minimum wage is $9.60 per hour and while that’s not great, it’s still way better than North Carolina. Do you see something wrong with what North Carolina did with this law? You should.

The law also prevents any person (read: ANY PERSON) from pursuing a state action under the law for the public policies expressed in the act which also governs employment discrimination. Guess what folks? Under the law and its line “This Article does not create, and shall not be construed to create or support, a statutory or common law private right of action, and no person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed herein” seems that all persons in the state are affected. Got that? Everyone.

Have a discrimination claim based upon religion, race, color  that does not fall into one of the state’s already established laws, guess what, you have no civil right to file suit in the state  court according to this law. According to  Charlotte School of Law professor, Brian Clark (who knows way more than little ‘ol lawyer me does) “In a very hidden way, it eliminated the ability for employees in North Carolina to file claims under state law for employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, color and age,” Clarke said, “And that’s a right that North Carolina employees have had since 1982… and it’s gone.” Poof. Gone. Folks should be rioting in the streets.

So, people, especially those who are peppering Facebook with their very prejudiced views of the rights of the transgender community under the North Carolina law and those that are speaking out against it, perhaps you should realize that when a particular group’s rights are affected, maybe, just maybe your rights are too. Under this law, rights were affected, not just for a particular segment of the North Carolina population but for all of the North Carolina population.

See, it’s really not an us v. them mentality. People are people and under the laws of this country we are all entitled to our rights, whether or not each of us personally stands for or against the person behind the right.  My kids understand this and have for some time. It’s about time that the adult population in this country realizes it too. One day, it could be your right that at stake. Remember that. Always.

 

Yesterday, Easter Sunday was a beautiful day. The weather was absolutely wonderfully spring-like and warm. It was made better because I was able to spend it with my sweetie, two of my three boys, my youngest nephew, my sister and my brother-in-law.

We were able to celebrate Tyler’s birthday on Saturday after the Easter Vigil mass where Tim did the readings.

 Sunday afternoon I went for a nice long walk with my dog, getting a nice dose of sunshine and endorphins. All in all, a good day, a nice weekend and a chance to do some community service with my Rotary club.

Since I have moved here, I have been truly blessed to have some wonderful people come into my life. People who inspire me to make our world a better place and give me the faith that there really are good souls in the world despite how our mass media constantly blankets us in the ugly and the horrific nature of our fellow humans.

A group of community members and teenagers came together to help make our town a better place, to instill some beauty into our little corner of the world. Their enthusiasm is contagious. Most of these folks I met as members of my Rotary club, which I will proudly assume the reins of president for in a few months. These folks, like many others in the community where I live, try to make the world a better place and truly embody the Rotary motto of “service above self”. I am proud to be counted among their ranks.

To perfectly top off the wonderful weekend that it was, I noticed that spring has truly come to the hill. My first crocus not only sprouted forth from the depths of its winter slumber but found the warm of the sun sufficient to bloom – sharing its beautiful colors with me.

 I hope you find the time to make your world a better place, “do good and so good will come to you.” Happy Monday. 

P1090776-WMToday, March 20th marks the vernal equinox or one of two days in the year that the length of daylight and the length of darkness are equal. “Equinox” is Latin for “equal night”. Today, neither the South Pole or the North Pole are tilted toward the sun. When the South Pole is tilted toward the sun, the southern hemisphere gets more light during the days and when the North Pole is tilted toward the sun, the northern hemisphere gets more light during the days. Hence, the longer days of summer and the shorter days of winter for us folks here in the northern hemisphere. The equinox occurs at the same time regardless of where you are in the world.

Spring brings with it revitalization and rebirth. It is the time of the year when we shake off our winter hibernation and think of the warm days ahead of us as we slowly start to see longer and warmer days in the weeks leading up to the first day of summer or the summer solstice.

Around the world there are lots of different ways that folks celebrate the vernal equinox. One of the biggest myths is that you can balance an egg or a broomstick on this day due to the gravitational forces at play in the sun being equally distant from the North and South poles. While fun to try, you won’t be successful because it is only a myth.

The shamrock is the official plant of the equinox — according to Celtic mythology, the shamrock represents the three hearts of the Celtic goddess also referred to as the Three Morgans. The shamrock symbolizes the regenerative powers of nature — and you thought it was only for St. Patrick’s Day!

In Italy it was symbolic for women to plant seeds on the vernal equinox in the gardens of Adonis. According to the Mirror, the custom persists in Sicily where  women plant seeds of grains – lentils, fennel, lettuce or flowers – in baskets and pots.

When they sprout, the stalks are tied with red ribbons and the flowers are placed on graves on Good Friday, symbolizing the triumph of life over death.

However you may celebrate, Happy Spring to you!

 

 

 

The title of this post is just wrong. Rain and February should not be in the same sentence in the State of Vermont. We went from one weather extreme to the other in a matter of days. On Saturday evening, the temperatures were -19 degrees without a wind chill factored into the mix. Some spots reported temperatures with wind chills of -50. The summit at Whiteface mountain reported -114 degrees with the wind chill. Yesterday evening it began snowing and there were about 4-5 inches of new snow on the ground this morning before the rain started. Now, as I type this, the rain is pounding the rooftop, reminiscent of a warm July afternoon than a February day. The temperature hovered just around 50 degrees about 70 degrees different than Saturday night. Amazing – simply amazing.

Every time I glanced out my office window this afternoon, there was less and less snow. Now, we are once again back to mainly grass with the occasional pile of plowed snow. Depressing. Makes one want to pack her bags and her dog and move to colder climates, someplace like the North Pole perhaps – maybe they have some snow?

 

A year ago for my birthday, Tim gave me a beautiful orange Kalanchoe plant. The flowers died and the plant thrived, but I was uncertain if it would in fact flower again for me. I have that kind of luck, we are talking about the girl whose dad saved, rooted and nurtured the ivy from my wedding bouquet and planted it for me, only for it to slowly die on me.

Surprisingly, just recently, there were buds as it sat on the kitchen windowsill. The flowers came again, beautiful orange flowers. As I wash the dishes, it is right there, on the windowsill, making me smile, reminding me of my boys. Today, the sun was just perfect this afternoon.

I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do. Tim, thanks again for the beautiful plant, it makes me smile and think of you when I see it everyday.

 One of my favorite hobbies is to cook, must be part of my Italian background because I love to see people eat. Mangia, Mangia, as my grandmother would say. It was never much of a problem with four men in the house – there was always someone happy to eat. Now, there are two of us in the house and the cooking presents a bit more of challenge, you see I am used to cooking…a lot (again, the Italian coming through). It’s difficult to figure out how to just make dinner for two, day after day.

We have had our share of good meals and our share of popcorn or PBJ for dinner when neither of us could seem to decide what we should do about that meal. I think, however, that I am coming around. Over the weekend, we felt like carrot cake, knowing full well that we couldn’t eat a whole carrot cake even if we spaced it out over days (carrot cake day #1 is great, day #2 is good, day #3 really, carrot cake again?) so I figured out that I would make a small carrot cake. I searched around and I found a recipe for a small carrot cake but it required a 6 inch cake pan. I searched around in the hopes that I could find something that I could use but not 6 inch cake pan or anything close to it. So I figured I would work with what I had, ramekins and make little carrot cakes – two of them.

They came out resembling little muffins, I cut off the raised tops to flatten them to look more like cakes, then cut each cake in half so there were two layers. The recipe called for a maple cream cheese frosting which was spread on top of one “layer” and then iced on the whole cake–it was delicious! Two little individual carrot cakes for dinner earlier this week.

The recipe was adapted from Betty Crocker’s website. I omitted raisins and walnuts which could certainly be added as you desire.

Carrot Cake

1/4    all-purpose flour
 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 egg white
2 tbs packed light brown sugar
2 tbs canola oil
 1 1/2 tps milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup packed grated carrot ( 1 carrot)

Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

2 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tps maple syrup 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Spray 2 (6-oz) ramekins with cooking spray.
  •  In small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside. In medium bowl, beat egg white, brown sugar, oil, milk and vanilla with wire whisk until blended. Stir in flour mixture until combined; stir in carrots.
  • Divide batter evenly between ramekins. Set ramekins on baking sheet and place in oven.  Bake 17  minutes or until cakes are set and spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool in ramekins 5 minutes; remove from ramekins to cooling rack. Cool completely.  Level cake layers with a serrated knife.
  • For frosting, in small bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until blended. Beat in powdered sugar and maple syrup until smooth.
  • Fill and frost layers with maple-cream cheese frosting.

Can you identify this?

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This, my friends, is what remains of our screen door.

Mother Nature can be a scary one.

The winds that were predicted by the weather services to kick up and be scary yesterday during the daylight hours never arrived.  Instead they showed up last evening, arriving with the darkness. The wind was howling and very gusty. A sudden and very loud slam alerted us to the fact that the screen door (which was not fully latched at the time) decided that it liked the field across the street better than our door frame. Perhaps I exaggerate just a little, it didn’t quite make it to the other side of the street, traveling a few feet down the driveway instead. We reclaimed what was left and now scratch our heads because we now have a very large doggie door (minus the flap part) that could easily fit two goats stacked on top of each other.IMG_2681IMG_2696

P1100263

SAY WHAT? GOAT DOOR???

(Hmmm… before those goats get any ideas, maybe we should just forget I said that.)

Could always have been worse… we could have had flying doors and flying goats. We must always see the bright side….always.

 

Today was a very un-January-like January day. The weather here has been less than winter-like and reminiscent of spring. Thank you (NOT) El Nino. Winter is supposed to be snowy and cold. Most of the day was rainy and damp with the actual temperatures well into the high 40s. What is left of the snow is either a lot of slush or a sheet of ice, not much in between.

On this lazy Sunday, a gumbo was simmering away on the stove. Tonight we had that gumbo made with North Country andouille sausage, chicken and okra that was flourishing in the garden a few months ago. Served with a loaf of bread, not mine but from the farmers’ market yesterday and some roasted hot peppers.

 

There have been Christmases since we’ve been here that the weather has not been very Hollywood Christmas-like. In fact, there have been a few Christmas mornings were there wasn’t snow on the ground, but we may have had some snow flurries for the effect, as if on cue. I remember one recent year that the snow began to fly as we left Christmas Eve mass, adding to the magic of the day. There was one Christmas when we went to bed without any snow on the ground and woke to a world glistening from an ice storm.

In general, though, even despite the lack of snow in years past, the weather has been winter-like, temperatures that required the wood stove to be casting its warm glow across the living room floor. This year, it was about 70 degrees on Christmas Eve and not much cooler on Christmas Day. The wood stove had no fire. I learned this year what those folks who live in Florida or other southern parts of the country must experience at this time of the year. I definitely realize that I am a winter/snow Christmas person – no flip flops and beaches on Christmas for me.

For Christmas morning, there was a feast of overnight eggnog french toast, sausage patties and wedges of fresh oranges. Better than the food, however, was the company. It was nice to have all of us around the table.

IMG_1907

I am the first to realize that I have adjusted less than optimally to this empty nest. I vow to embrace the upside of the situation even though two dinner plates look lost on our farmhouse table. Seems like it took forever to get the table that was my ideal for our family — and in a short amount of time it became too big, too soon. I think Tom and I are going to have to have one of those dramatic Hollywood style dinners one of our evenings — me at one end and he at the other….in the meantime, we’ll settle for a cozy dinner by the fire more often than not.

Whether your Christmas was warm or cold, dry or snowy, frantic or calm, I hope that you shared it with those that are close to your heart. Blessings and Peace this season.

Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’ ~ Bing Crosby

 

English: a bird nest Français : un nid d'oiseau

English: a bird nest Français : un nid d’oiseau (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been two weeks since we moved the boys to school, that’s two weeks without any kids still living at home.

My question is….  who came up with this whole “empty nest” symbolism anyway? Obviously no one who actually did some research. From what I have read, most adult birds don’t stick around the nest when the fledglings leave, in fact, from what I’ve read some even leave the nest before their little baby birds are off on their own.

Imagine just how that would play out in the human world.

Kid: I will be leaving in a week for college. Are you going to miss me? I need some help packing and getting my stuff there and set up in my dorm room.

Parents: Hope you have fun with that. We are outta here! Headed south for the winter or maybe for forever. The house has been sold since we aren’t living here anymore and you’ll have to leave earlier than a week.  Don’t even think about coming home in a month or two for a break or Thanksgiving because the house may be gone or new folks may be living here but one thing is definitely certain, your father and I, we won’t be coming back….ever. And that moving in and getting settled at college thing. Good luck with that.

I came across this quote online and it definitely takes some of the sting out of the whole “empty nest” stigma.

I don’t like the term “empty nesters”…. I prefer “parents of free range young adults.” Robin Fox.

It is definitely a weird transition to go from a house where I have to wonder and plan for things like who is going to be here for dinner and what food shopping needs to be done to a house where there’s really no one to care what time we eat (my husband is pretty flexible with the whole food thing) or if we even eat. Makes my hobby of cooking and baking pretty darn obsolete, doesn’t it? Think I have to find a new hobby to occupy my time.

We just hosted my nephew and his girlfriend for the weekend. We had fun, I got the chance to bake some goodies, make a real breakfast for all of us and enjoy their company. There is one thing that I can tell you though. When we would have a houseful of company and they would leave after the weekend, the house, with the five of us in it, seemed empty. The house with just two of us in it after company leaves is even more empty and quiet. Sigh…….

Cupcake

Cupcake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love cooking and baking, but I think that I fall more on the side of cooking than baking. To me, baking is a science, or at least for me, it’s a science. There are precise measurements and instructions that need to be followed to ensure success. For me, cooking is a form of art. Recipes can easily be tweaked, ingredients swapped out easily. Recipes can be interpreted by the person doing the cooking, adding or subtracting a pinch of this or a touch of that and the result is a new dish, a new piece of art. I know that there are those that view baking the same way, but I am not one of them.

If you are one of them, if your passion lies amid pies, strudels and cupcakes then here is an opportunity for you, particularly if you don’t live here, but have always wanted to come and live in Vermont. There is a bakery in Waitsfield, Vermont that has a unique opportunity

for the baker (or baker wanna be) at heart. For $75, a 100 word letter and a cupcake recipe, you may be the next owner of a bakery nestled in one of the quaintest towns in the state.

Mix Cupcakerie and Kitchen is for sale and the owner is hoping through this unique contest of sorts, to find the perfect person to take over her dream. Kind of like a little Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory action, don’t you think?

Years ago, Tom and I became smitten with the Waitsfield area and dreamed of moving there. Alas, time and fate brought us to the mountain we call home in our little corner of Vermont. We are very happy, Vermont is wonderful, we have our dream. Perhaps, you can have yours. Here is the information to enter the contest. The owner is offering to mentor the new owner for 80 hours and give the lucky person all of her recipes to entice her regular customers to keep walking through the door. Also, I understand there is two months of rent and expenses paid for so you have the opportunity to get on your feet.

If baking is your passion good luck!

“Produced with Genetic Engineering”
This is one of the new labels that you will most likely see if Vermont’s GMO labeling law successfully avoids legal challenge and goes into effect as planned just about one year from now on July 1, 2016. The Vermont Attorney General’s office last week released the rules regarding the labeling of foods produced with genetic engineering that will guide manufacturers and producers of genetically engineering products for sale in this state.

What is covered:

1. Unpackaged food required to be labeled such as fresh fruits and vegetables

2. Packaged foods with genetic engineering offered for sale in Vermont including packaged raw agricultural commodities as well as processed foods.

What is exempt:

1. Animal products and foods bearing USDA approved labels

2. Foods certified as not produced with genetic engineering

3. Processing aids

4. Alcoholic beverages

5. Foods containing genetically engineered materials where the weight of the genetically materials is less than .9 percent of the total weight of the food

6. Foods verified by a qualifying organization – such as food certified as “organic” in accordance with USDA National Organic Program accreditations.

7. Food for immediate consumption such as unpackaged foods served in restaurants.

8. Medical food as defined by federal law.

The entire set of rules adopted by the Attorney General can be found here.

On Monday, the Federal Court denied the Grocery Manufacturing Association’s request for a preliminary injunction to stop the enforcement of the law beginning on July 1, 2016. This was a positive result for Vermont, the “david” in this david versus goliath battle. Vermont is the first state in the nation to pass and put into effect a GMO labeling law and opponents of the law were quick to file a complaint in federal court seeking to have the new law invalidated. This request for an injunction was the first step for the opponents to see if they would be able to have the court order that the law could not go into effect until the litigation was finalized.

While this was rather important and justifiably was splashed across the news around the country, not many reported that there was a second part to that ruling. While the opponents were seeking to have the court grant injunctive relief, the state of Vermont filed its own application seeking to dismiss, at least in part, the opponent’s claim. Vermont was predominantly unsuccessful on it application to dismiss various claims. For example, in response to the opponent’s claim that the labeling violates First Amendment rights, the court ruled: The court believes that Act 120’s affirmative labeling requirement is not barred by the First Amendment, but denies Vermont’s motion to dismiss the First Amendment challenge because the court recognizes that this is a serious question of law as to which courts might disagree; but the court finds that Act 120’s ban on the term “natural” does violate the First Amendment.

The court did dismiss the opponent’s claim that the labeling law violated the Commerce clause stating that the Act’s affirmative labeling law did not violate the Commerce clause since the labeling requirement only applied to products sold in Vermont. The court in its ruling was skeptical of some of the plaintiff opponent’s claims of a constitutional nature, but since this was a preliminary application, the court was reluctant to outright dismiss the plaintiff’s claims as a whole.

As has happened many times in the past, all eyes will continue to be on Vermont as this law and the legal challenge to it unfolds.

Evilwife on the move

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