Friday, July 20, 2007

Singin' in the Rain

When was the last time you played outside in the rain with your kids?

Next time it rains, just do it.

Double dog dare ya.

It's All About the Segue

My humble little log cabin was transformed into a chamber of horror yesterday, with a little help from the Orkin man. Telltale signs of a fury intruder started showing up in a kitchen drawer and the occasional sqweak from the direction of the kitchen stirred Nelson T. Airedale (the "T" stands for "The") from a deep sleep for a close inspection of the space betweeen the fridge and the kitchen cabinets. When I finally reached the point of feeling tormented (rattling of a wrapper in the pantry or finding dog bisquits from Nelson's cookie jar stashed in dark places for winter sustenance), I knew it was time to call in the big guns. I guess I didn't give it too much thought ... assuming there might be some sort of deterent spray or powder that could be applied to baseboards or under the kitchen sink. Instead, upon my arrival home yesterday afternoon, I found an arsenal of "glue traps." At first glance, the adhesive-smeared plastic tiles seemed like a simple solution for ridding a home of unwanted rodents, but the reality of the ghastly scene is that unsuspecting little gray fur balls with pink feet and cartoon character faces become imobilzed in a permanent scampering position once their feet hit the soft glue. So there they are, still very much alive, but frozen in action until they - what? ... starve to death? So I spent the entire night dropping license-plate sized glue traps, with Mickey and Minney attached, into the pond for a somewhat humane end to their suffering. In my mind's eye I can picture myself in a well-deserved afterlife eternity ... feet firmly planted in a plastic tray with thick glue plastered deep on one side.

Okay ... so here it is ... here's that segue I've been building up to in the telling of this story ...

Speaking of one side ... The Jackson Gore Outdoor Music Series continues tonight with ONESIDE and their "banjo-sweetened music that ranges from indie-flavored jangle pop to straight-out newgrass."

(Ah, I can almost hear the groans as I type the words)

In a time when banjos, fiddles and mandolins are often used for excessive jamming, Boston-based band ONESIDE puts them back in the framework of concise, well written songs. While ONESIDE offers up plenty of solos and tasty licks, the band's songs are also chock full of carefully crafted hooks. The leads are there to serve the song. This organic variety of music has been fondly dubbed "Electrified Yankee Roots/Rock" by lead singer/songwriter Ned deBary. "I see many bands with banjos, fiddles etc… playing strictly "old timey", bluegrass and traditional songs. I love those types of songs and love to play them, but I don't see us being limited to one style of music just because of our instrumentation. I think all these instruments fit very well in the context of a modern pop/rock song." Critics have likened ONESIDE's music to that of Wilco, The Shins, and early REM, but with a stronger basis in Americana. For more information about the band, visit

On Friday nights throughout the summer season, the lawn in the courtyard at Okemo’s Jackson Gore Inn is transformed into an outdoor concert venue featuring renowned local and regional entertainers. Admission to the Jackson Gore Outdoor Music Series is free and the grounds open at 5 p.m. Concerts are slated to begin at 6 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. Families are welcome and all attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. In case of rain, the concerts will move undercover. A barbecue buffet is available, as well as dining in Jackson Gore’s Coleman Brook Tavern. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

OK....fine, summer has some good points too...

Alright, I admit it. Summer does have some great bennies. I spent last weekend on the lake enjoying swimming and sitting on the porch sipping Sangria watching the sunset. Those are things I can't do in the winter. Plus, theOkemo Valley region seems to come alive with culture in the summer. I'm headed off to the Weston Playhouse tonight to see The King and I. Then later this week Hello Dolly is being performed at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland. I once thought that the only culture to be found in Vermont was in the yogurt section of the grocery store, or in the nearby cow pastures, but as I live here longer I find more neat stuff todo.

And I had some fresh corn on the cob, that a friend brought up from NJ last week. And it looks like we'll see our own native corn in the very near future. As for the eloquent waxings of Silver Linings....all I smell and see in the summer is road construction and dusty, cranky directional crews on the highways. Those people should be required to take guest service classes or something. It always looks like they just finished sucking on a lemon.

Did anyone catch the Solarfest over in Tinmouth, VT last weekend? I learned about it this year, the whole weekend is powered by solar energy....that's pretty cool. I went to learn more about photovoltaic and solar thermal heating systems. I'm hoping to reduce my carbon footprint, and I thought that solar energy might be a great way to make that happen. Come to find out VT is an OK place for solar power....of course summer time is better than winter for the amount of solar energy that we can create, but hey, it will help reduce our impact on the planet.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Summertime ...

And the living is easy! A tractor is making its way up and down the grassy ski slopes and the first cut of the fields around the Okemo Valley has left the warm summer air heady with the aroma of newly mown hay. Strawberry season has given way to raspberry season and it won't be long before wild blueberries start ripening. Fledglings seem to all be leaving their nests at the same time - to a carcophany of squawks from anxious mother robins and redwing blackbirds. The summer season, in all of its splendor, is marching onward and it won't be long before we notice the daylight hours growing shorter. It's in the quiet moments of the day that we can witness the ever-changing world around us and note the subtle transitions of the seasons. Summer is in full swing. The Vermont hills are echoing with sounds of music festivals and town-green gazebo concerts. Summer theatre performances are a nightly occurance. Harried show-goers dine al fresco. Lotion-slathered children squeal as they splash in lakewater that was still numbing cold just a few short weeks ago. The bounty of the harvest makes each visit to the farmers' market more rewarding. Yes, summertime ... and the living in Vermont is easy. Cheers!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Weekend of fun

Another busy weekend. Sometimes I'm happy to be sitting still at my desk come Monday morning, complete with a cup of coffee! It was a fun one, though.

We've talked about taking the kids kayaking for months, but never quite got it done. Here in Vermont, you pass a kayak strapped to a car roof to the tune of about 1 in every 3 vehicles - so we've had a lot of visual reminders lately.

Saturday was the day! We found a great outfit just one mile off Exit 9 of I-91 called Still Water Outfitters. They definitely made the day easy. We opted for the 2-hour self guided kayak trip for starters. After a bit of negotiating with the kids as to who would have their own boat and who would sit in the tandem, we helped load them on a trailer and headed upstream. We put in about 7 miles up - took a few minutes to get the hang of paddlin' - and off we went. It was a beautiful day - not too hot but nice and sunny. The kids had fun paddling through a bit of whitewater (nothing too intense believe me) and we even got to see a bald eagle! It was so relaxing and peaceful!

And, the best part was when we ended the trip back at the shop ~ we were just steps away from the Harpoon Brewery! We enjoyed a great lunch out on the lawn complete with an ice cold Raspberry Wheat Ale. Wow, did that hit the spot. We didn't join a tour, but you can check out their website if you're interested in more info. I think at the end of the month they're hosting the Championships of New England Barbecue, so we might head back and do it all again - this time with a longer trip and perhaps a little more whitewater. They offer rafting trips too, so maybe we'll even try that.

Next up was King Arthur Flour ~ which was just a short jaunt up I-91 in Norwich, VT. Another place I've always wanted to go but never quite made it. What a gorgeous store! It was much larger than I expected - filled with great unique kitchen gadgets, baking gear, and ingredients you could spend hours browsing through! They had a small kitchen setup where they were baking bread, which you could sample of course, and lots of counter space where you could order lunch. The kids opted for dessert - an amazing brownie that must have weighed a pound and a personal-sized carrot cake. They were delectable. My fun came when we got home and I got to try out my new scone pan and the lemon blueberry scone mix I got to go with it!

Another really cool thing is that King Arthur has a baking education center where they host cooking classes ~ from kids' summer camps to professional caliber cooking schools. I grabbed a schedule and plan to go back for a class.

By this time it was nearing 3 o'clock and it was time to head home. Tired muscles and full bellies made for a quiet ride ~ a beautiful thing!