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There are perks to being an attorney in Vermont. Like when you have to do two closings the same day with a couple hours in between and they are both not in your office. I got to spend the afternoon up in Addison County with my favorite guy who came along as my chauffeur. We stopped at Falls Park in Vergennes, had a great Thai lunch in Middlebury and a beautiful ride through the countryside. Followed it all up with a trip to the new pub at the Victorian Inn and a relaxing evening on the porch with a lovely breeze. Life is good. 

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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.

 

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.

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

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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.

 

Evilwife on the move

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