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mYCZwunGTZC0LOTyRSDSIQI have been coddling my starter all week and today, with over two feet of snow on the ground with more on the way, I thought I would use some of it for these muffins bringing a little bit of summer into this winter day. I hate throwing away discard starter and have been looking for ways to use the extra starter without donating it to the septic system (which is fine some of the time). The blueberries come from right across the street at Sugar Hill Berry Farm, which will be open to the public for berry picking this summer. We were fortunate to get the opportunity to do some private picking last summer and these huge, sweet berries have been taking up residence in my freezer since then, waiting for a good recipe.

I used this recipe from Turnips 2 Tangerines . This is the second time I’ve made these muffins and they turn out great. I add a little bit of sparkling sugar to the top of each for both looks and an extra bit of sweetness. I love the recipe because it doesn’t require me to use the mixer to blend the batter, elbow grease and a spoon is all that is needed, so it comes together quickly. 30-35 minutes in the oven and you have some delicious muffins. Give it a try and if you’re up this way in the summer, come pick some berries, your winter self will be thanking you. 🙂

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For the first time since I’ve been on the school board, I am running in a contested election. First let me explain that by “contested”. I in no way mean mud-slinging and nastiness, but rather that there is more than just one person (namely, me) running for the open seat. In fact, there are three of us running to fill the two open school board seats in our town. You have no idea how excited I was when I learned that not one, but two townsfolk submitted petitions to also run for school board. I was soooo excited that others were interested in joining the school board and working for our community’s kids. I could hardly contain my excitement that my pleas for folks to get involved seemed to be heeded. It was my husband who, after letting me enjoy my excitement for a bit, had to point out to me (gently, I might add) that this “wonderful news” I was blabbing about meant that I was now involved in a contested election for my own seat on the board. Talk about bursting one’s bubble. NOOOOO! But alas it is true. So, this will be my first contested election. Wish me luck. Here’s a throwback to that first election when I wished my dad could have been alive to see his little girl’s name on the ballot.

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Win or lose, please make sure that you get out to vote if you live in Vermont. Your fellow community members count on your support and it’s an amazing and important process, unique to the New England area and particularly Vermont.

 

 

Vermont’s school funding is in the state and local news of late and we will all be asked to vote on school budgets soon. The Vermont School Boards Association produced a video to help explain how the process works. It does a good job of explaining a fairly complex process, making it a little easier to understand.

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Photo Credit: The Independent

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.

~Theodore Roosevelt

This month marks the halfway point in my term as president of the Wallingford Rotary. If you would have told me when I joined Rotary three years ago, I would be president, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here I am.

When you reach the halfway point, it’s always good to stop, look back and look ahead. Looking back, we have had some wonderful events that I am especially proud of including our first Pancake Breakfast with Santa which had a great turnout despite the snowy weather, not such good weather for driving, but perfect weather for Santa’s arrival.

My personal favorite thus far though is the creation of our Interact Club with the students from MRU. I really wanted to connect the opposite ends of our community, the young adults in high school and the older adults. My hope was that we could join forces (kind of like superheroes) for the betterment of our lovely Wallingford area community.  The Interact students have helped out at every event we have had (since before they were even an official Interact Club) and were instrumental in making our Santa breakfast a success with their personalized ornaments for the little kids. The officers have been wonderful to plan and work with and we are very lucky to have their abilities, creativity and assistance.

Looking forward as I plunge into the second half of my presidential year, our club has been asked to host and cater the Zone’s Rotary Peace Center fundraising dinner here at the little red schoolhouse in the spring/early summer, we also have a Hungarian themed community dinner in honor of our lovely exchange student, Eszti in the wings as well as our old favorites, Bike Safety Day and looking past my term, our annual Lobsterfest!

While I can’t honestly always say that getting up when it is pitch black and frigid outside (like this morning) is my favorite (or even anywhere in the top 10), I do have to say that I feel lucky and blessed to have made friends with the men and women who are fellow Rotarians. It is well worth pulling myself up and out early on a Monday morning, I always leave that meeting with a smile on my face. I haven’t been a part of Rotary for very long, but I do feel that these folks go out of their way to spread good fellowship and cheer (even on those dark, cold mornings) which make it all worthwhile.

It’s hard to believe that it is halfway over, it flew by. I am excited to continue to meet new people and share laughs, community and good cheer with my fellow Rotarians throughout our community.

If you’d like to know more about Rotary or think you’d also like to get up for one of our sunrise (doesn’t that just sound so much better than 7 a.m.) meetings or one of our once-a-month dinner meetings (unfortunately at this time of the year, also in the dark), please let me know or just stop by…. we’d love to have you visit us.

 

 

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

English: Rotary International emblem

English: Rotary International emblem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

On Saturday, I volunteered to assist in our local Rotary Club’s annual coin drop fundraiser. Basically, you don a very bright vest, hold a bucket and stand in the middle of the road soliciting donations to the cause. I participated in the first shift, standing out on the main street in town for about an hour and a half. It was actually fun, more people stopped, dropping coins and “folding money” (as one gentlemen put it) into the bucket than did not. Even the folks who didn’t or couldn’t contribute were kind enough to wave or even stop and apologize for not being able to contribute. The generosity was amazing. It was nice to see familiar faces and have a couple seconds chat while they made their donation. It was even nicer to see and speak to total strangers. I had folks inquire as to the purpose of the collection, I had folks share a bit of their history (for example, a 40 year Rotarian was very pleased to help a fellow Rotary club). Some folks literally emptied their change cups into our buckets, others reached into their wallet for paper money. Folks had their kids put the money into the bucket from the back seat and folks apologized for the screw or dog biscuit that might be mixed in with their contribution.

Coins in High Contrast

Coins in High Contrast (Photo credit: MoneyBlogNewz)

I have always loved people watching. I remember when I was younger and driving around with my family in the car going here or there. I loved the dusk hours when people’s lights were on but shades were not yet drawn. You had a chance to get a glimpse into their world – see a different kitchen, a family eating, a living room so very different from your own. It was a similar experience on Saturday when the folks driving by would stop to drop in their donation. You caught a quick glimpse into their lives since a person’s car is just as much a statement about themselves as anything else. Some were filled with dogs (yes, literally there were about five dogs in one car, occupying both the front and back of the vehicle), gardening equipment, some looked as if people were moving or living out of their cars with the variety of different household things gathered there. Some cars were filled with people, young and old, some were solo drivers with a computer open on the seat (how do they do that?). It was an interesting opportunity to get a peek into people’s lives, have a chat here and there and raise money for a worthy cause, the scholarships and community service work that the Rotary performs on a regular basis.

Being on the other side of the window, so to speak, gave me a new and different perspective and respect for all those firefighters and other groups that conduct coin drop fundraisers especially now that the summer weather seems to have arrived.

If you are one of the drivers approaching a coin drop, please do slow down, it’s hard for both of us unless you come to an almost complete stop. This was my first time and I’ve yet to perfect “my collecting money while  jogging alongside someone’s car and trying not to get run over ” technique. Maybe by next time around…..

English: Rotary International emblem

English: Rotary International emblem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week I got a phone call out of the blue from someone at the Wallingford Rotary asking me if I would be their speaker for this week’s program. My first thought was “Me? Why do you want me?” I actually think that was the first thing that I said on the phone as well. Turns out, I agreed to speak and then I was determined to find out what I could speak about to this group. Sure, I can talk law, but this is a group of varied professionals and I don’t know that I could have found common ground that was interesting enough. I had the pleasure of interviewing the then-incoming president of the Rotary, Adrian Eisler over the summer for the Rutland County Express and we discussed ways to bring new members and update the Rotary’s image which is one of her goals as president. I thought that brainstorming some new ways to open up to the community and thereby increase their membership might be a fun topic that obviously would be of interest to them. I spent a chunk of time yesterday investigating what other Rotary groups do to bring in new members and see how they could make use of things at their fingertips like their webpage, a Facebook page, Twitter account and a blog. We discussed how to tap into the younger generations, particularly how they could garner the interest of the middle school and high school kids, many sadly who have no idea that they come from a Rotary that is the home of all Rotary since its founder Paul Harris is from good ol’ Wallingford Vermont. We discussed getting the kids involved, getting the community involved and letting Wallingford and the surrounding areas know who the Rotarians were, what they did professionally and where their personal interests lie in the hopes of making connections that could foster future relationships between the organization and future members.

Wallingford, Vermont

Wallingford, Vermont (Photo credit: Dougtone)

I thought that it was a good discussion and hopefully so did they. It was definitely interesting and fun to do something a little outside of my comfort zone. Since as part of their meeting, they pass the Pig and put in a dollar for a happy thought that they share with the group and many of those thoughts centered around spring, flowers and the vegetables, I chose a pick of apple blossoms to share with this post.  Check out the Wallingford Rotary’s web page for more information about the Wallingford Rotary which is open to professionals, business people and community members not only from Wallingford but also the surrounding communities. P1070263

This weekend started very early in the morning with a 2:15 alarm going off to rustle a child off for breakfast and then a trip to whale watch with his biology class. Company arrived and then a couple beautiful days of gardening, company and enjoying the weather. We enjoyed a nice dinner at our friends’ home with some great conversation.

 

The cousins and friends hanging around waiting for the start of the parade.

Our good friend, Tom French was the Grand Marshall of the parade. Tom received a Purple Heart for his military service.

We enjoyed the Memorial Day parade in town this morning, followed by more gardening.

It was inspiring to see a large part of the town and a lot of familiar faces all at the cemetery for the most important part of the whole day — remembering those who gave so much for all of us.

 

The day ended with a nice relaxing hour or so on our porch with a book, a breeze and my favorite guy.

Typing this as the sun sets. Despite my lack of a voice for most of the weekend, it was good. Feeling very satisfied.

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We were adjusting to what everyone is referring to as “the new normal” which for us, means we pretend that Sugar Hill Road dead ends just past our neighbor’s house. After all, we could take Maranville Road to Route 140 headed toward Route 103 or Route 140 straight into Wallingford village and Route 7.

Not so after this morning. The bridge by White Rocks Recreation, which is our way (and unless there’s something I’m missing) the only way from our neck of the woods into Wallingford without going a very roundabout route is no more — at least for while. The bridge is no longer safe and has been shut down to traffic in both directions.

This means a lot of things for us. A trip to the transfer station is now a trip down Route 103 and then back into Wallingford to drop off trash. The bus route for school normally travels that route and since school starts tomorrow — we really don’t know how they will do that except by splitting the route. A trip to Manchester (although we don’t go that often) now means driving either through Ludlow and Route 100 (assuming of course that the roadway is open, which I don’t know offhand since we’ve had no reason to travel that way in the past week) or traveling most of the way to Rutland and then traveling south. In any event, life has become that much more difficult.

Still, keeping it all in perspective, we are inconvenienced, not devastated — as so many here in Vermont were from the storm. Traveling around here has become much more deliberate and less casual — since most  trips involve a lot more driving than they used to involve.

It is incredible how much damage Irene did to Vermont. We are seeing and hearing about incredible damage. So very, very sad. We are very fortunate that the damage to our property was extremely minimal compared to those around us. We lost a couple small trees. The road leading to our house has been washed away almost completely in both directions and we are without power. The road crews are doing their best to get us a way down off the hill via Sugar Hill Road, although there really aren’t a lot of places to go from what we understand since so many roads and bridges are just completely gone.

One of the extremely disheartening stories about our neighbors involved our friends at Evening Song Farm. The farmland was literally destroyed by the storm. The river berm gave way and the river has diverted through their property.

The land in this picture was farmland as of Saturday evening. Acres and acres of vegetables for their CSA patrons and farmer’s market customers. As you can see, not only is everything washed away, the farmland has been replaced with river silt, sand and rocks. Their land has apparently been rendered unusable as farmland.

This was Kara and Ryan’s first year here in Vermont and in our community as CSA farmers. My heart breaks for their loss. Yes no one’s life was lost here but their livelihood was destroyed and the devastation is heart wrenching.

We were able to get down there and express our sympathies for their loss and in a true testament to the spirt of Vermonters, while we were standing there talking, several folks stopped and offered their hands to help.

Today was our first CSA pickup! This afternoon, we ran over to Evening Song Farm to chat with Kara and Ryan and Echo (who was behaving himself very nicely with all those potential playmates coming and going) and gathered our first CSA of the season.

After spending a nice chunk of time speaking with Evening Song Farm owners, Kara and Ryan for my article that I did on their farm a month or so ago, I feel a connection to them. They are a genuinely nice couple that make you immediately feel at home. I was so very happy today to see so many people coming and going from the barn that is the CSA pickup location. They are a great addition to the community and I was so looking forward to the first pickup today.

Since I grow my own garden, and quite a large one at that, many people questioned my sanity at joining a CSA. Why would I do that? Simple answer, my family and I use more produce that I can produce and those that know us know that we have a lot of company. Since I usually go to the Rutland Farmer’s Market and purchase at least as many items as I am getting in my weekly CSA pickup, why wouldn’t I want to get a discount (yes it’s cheaper than purchasing the same items at the farmer’s market) and have the convenience of being able to pick it all up within five minutes of my own door? To me, these are good reasons, along with the fact that I’m helping a new local business get a leg-up in a less than desirable economy.

Since Evening Song Farm provides its members with a free choice CSA, I can tailor my weekly pickup to my needs which is another great idea in my opinion. This week’s pick looked like this:

Another good reason for joining was that my veggies are merely little seedlings right now and I’m certainly not growing a lot of what they have to choose from at the farm. We chose broccoli rabe, lettuce, baby lettuce, pea shoots, baby bok choy and these beautiful long and amazingly delicious garlic scallions that are at least two feet long.

Thanks so much to Kara, Ryan and Echo for some beautiful, fresh and delicious local veggies.

Needless to say, tonight’s dinner was angel hair pasta with sauteed broccoli rabe, garlic scallions, olive oil and crushed red pepper. It was delicious!

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Our church, a small community here in Wallingford, was kind enough to decide to celebrate the confirmation of its five young members. Through a lot of hard work on many people’s part, on Sunday the newly confirmed enjoyed a special mass in which they participated, the May crowning where TJ was given the honor to crown Mary (maybe he was just the tall one) followed by a delicious brunch for everyone in the parish hall. It was a delightful morning despite the rain and many thanks to all those who thought enough to celebrate the newest adult members of the parish.

The young gentlemen in the picture was a First Communion recipient and wonderfully included in the celebration!

Evilwife on the move

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