Category Archives: Vermont

Not a Vermonter Yet

Today was full of lessons. Lessons that will make me a pretty solid Vermonter, someday.

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The last couple days were in the 50’s. It was a nice treat, although I am still wondering where Old Man Winter is hiding. The roads were muddy yesterday – everything unfreezing. Definitely a precursor to what spring might be like…my car went from blue to brown in one drive to work. It all froze up again last night.

This morning I went out to go to work and it was pouring. The ground was slippery. I decided to go to wrk the “long” way, also the flatter way up the mountain. When I approached the street, I went to break, but my breaks didn’t catch….I just kept going. “Guess I’ll just turn around over there.”

This moment, on the flat land, should have given me pause. I should have thought that sliding on flat ground might mean that going up a mountain called Densmore Hill, with an elevation of 1200+ feet, might not be the best idea. Now might be a good time to share that going up the “flatter” way one side of the road (coming down) drops off – it’s a ledge. usually there is a snow bank, but there hasn’t been much snow, so it was glare ice with no barrier to what I will just refer to as the “ravine.” That is a slight exaggeration…but if the car went down it wouldn’t just be a wheel over the edge, it would roll and need a wrecker to retrieve it.

So I went up. And I slid.

The first lesson I learned was that I knew how to drive in slippery conditions. I thank an old boyfriend who’d take me to a parking lot while he did donuts and slid all over when it snowed…and he made me drive sometimes. I think everyone should do this. I don’t even think about it, but the rear starts going to the right and I turn the wheel to the right. Does it stop you, no. But you hopefully get a little control.

The hill wasn’t too steep, but I was still sliding. A car was coming down on the “ravine” side, so I followed protocol and pulled over and was stopping to let them pass safely. I was stuck though. 4WD didn’t help, my wheels were spinning. The girl stopped and asked if I was okay and I said I was fine, but she insisted on waiting til I got going. I got into the side rut and got enough traction to go, so I told her to leave, but I’d get stuck spinning again second later.

Lesson 2: no matter how far you lean forward, you can’t make your car go. Uphill. On ice.

There was a driveway across the street from me, so I spun myself over there and finally got traction on her rocks. But I parked my car. My legs were jello. I slid all

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Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra, available on Amazon (these are NOT what i was given)

the way up the driveway in my “boots.” Her 17-month old German Shepherd did sound like he wanted to kill me, but she opened the door while saying he’s friendly. He’s named after a gun type, I think, Ruger. He happily greeted me jumped up and licked my face. She was so nice and let me call my boss from the landline because there is no cell service on the mountain. Duh. So, she loaned me toe crampons for the walk (“hike”) so i didn’t die walking to her house. My boss also came down to assess the slippery road because she had to go to an appointment. I was wheezing and panting. So she carried my heavy bag up, so I didn’t slip and die. I think she didn’t want to have to pick me up or witness that mess.

We got to her house/the office and got to work. It poured buckets all day and I wasn’t really worried since it warmed up. Just all that rain on frozen ground was bad news for my commute. The drive home was a dream! But, I still took the long way home….I took the long way home.

#‎notavermonteryet‬ ‪#‎citygirl‬ #jellolegs #slipandslide

I Want to be a Townie

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I was hesitant to use the term “townie.” When I was growing up, it was used as a derogatory term for the town weirdos, or the people who never really went anywhere. Growing up, I learned that it wasn’t such a bad thing. My brother was a townie. He was a mechanic at the gas station. Every time I visited him I was in awe – it was like he was mayor. Everyone knew him. Everyone loved him, despite some troubles he had with drinking. He was beloved, really. He has since grown up and moved on and is now on his way to being as much of a Townie as you can be in the city. But he changed my feelings on what a Townie really was.

I worked at Wassail Weekend selling Filthy Farmgirl Vermont soap.It was a tight fit and we were up against another table with a couple women who were knitting.

It’s funny – I am an introvert. I don’t speak unless spoken to. I guess that doesn’t apply when you are crammed in small space with others. I got to talking with Jane. She’s older, for sure. She talked a lot about her kids and grandkids, she was so proud of them.

During the day I noticed that EVERYONE stopped to say hello to her. I wasn’t sure why.

While we were talking, I learned that she not only knew the previous owner of the house I am renting, but pretty much every other owner there was. She has a bed & breakfast and it has been in the family for 90 years. She mentioned that she did breakfast every Sunday at the Country Store down the street from me and invited me to join in, so I could meet people.

Today was my first day going. I was there for 4 hours. I met more than 15 “locals.” Jane introduced me as her new friend and everyone welcomed me with open arms – literally, I got hugs. People were there before 8:30 and we were the last to leave, but it was a rotating group of people stopping in for breakfast, coffee and conversation. The youngest was just about a year, and we spanned the generations up to 60ish. It was lovely.

Know what I loved most of all? It was executives to entrepreneurs to mechanics. All were welcome and convened as family. I love this. I have always had friends from all walks of life and love being in a place where this stuff doesn’t matter. They talked about really personal stuff. I know a lot of things about people who started as strangers, but I can tell will become fast friends.

I can’t wait for Sundays!

Groceries in Rural VT

wp-1453071117427.jpgOver the last 5 or so years i have become nutritionally inclined. I have always tried to eat “healthy” but my definition of what that is has changed over the years. Today, what that means is organic, pastured or grass fed and not processed. I prefer local.

Moving to Vermont should make this easier, right? I mean, the stuff is all grown here. I have been here 6 weeks. There are 3 places in town to get stuff. They are all so expensive that Whole Foods looks cheap, but sometimes you just don’t feel like leaving town.

Right in town is FH Gillingham & Son’s General Store. They have a little bit of everything, and if you visit me, you MUST go here. There is a resident cat who just might own the place. And I have it on good word that they sell caramels that are divine.

The local, family owned grocery store is called Mac’s Market. It has a very small section of organic produce and every time I am there it is empty/being restocked. There is no organic meat, but they do have grass-fed ground beef on occasion. I haven’t “shopped the aisles” because I don’t do that often.

The Woodstock Farmer’s Market is my personal Disneyworld. Pretty good selection of organic produce. No organic meats, but they do also have a grass-fed ground beef. They have organic milk and cream! They are more of an artisanal store. You won’t find tons of national brand stuff here, which I love. There are tons of local products. My favorite is Fat Toad Traditional Goat’s Milk Caramel Sauce…it is worth every penny of the $12 it costs (it’s a bit more online). I have no clue why the makers include recipes on their site because it should just be eaten straight out of the jar…mmmmmaybe over vanilla ice cream, or a dollop into your cup of coffee. But I digress…

So yesterday, I went to West Lebanon, NH where all the shopping is – Hannaford, K-Mart, Wal-mart, TJ Maxx, Kohl’s, JC Penney’s. It was nice to be in civilization. But, it turns out Hannaford doesn’t have much more for organic produce. They have a good selection of gluten free stuff though.

I miss the organic meats from Wegman’s. They had everything – bacon, chicken, beef, veal, pork and duck. And multiple cuts. I miss the organic bulk section from Whole Foods. They also had almost everything available as organic in the produce section.

I miss things like a bottle of organic lemon juice. I KNOW I try to avoid processed food, but there are some things that just make things easy, like the lemon or lime juice. I end up wasting money when i buy fresh lemons or limes…or i use them for other stuff and then have none for a recipe.

My next field trip is to the co-op. This is a thing that I think should be in more places. There are actually some co-ops in MA. I love the idea that you buy in with your membership and are a part owner (meaning, you can receive disbursements).

Work is Overrated

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A year ago yesterday I was laid off. earlier that day I had hung a plaque in my office; it said “The best is yet to come.” This was the second January in a row that my position was eliminated at the same company. I immediately took a “job” at a “startup” until they decided to screw me over and not pay me. It became clear to me that the universe was sending me a message – leave corporate America. For sure I needed to leave commercial real estate. But what would I do…I had been on this ladder for so long, I didn’t know how to get down.

Unemployment was new for me. Everyone who knows me knows that I was all but defined by my career. I lived to work. I lived FOR work. Even still, I decided I would really take some time to figure out what made me happy. I had zero clue what that was.

I knew I liked dogs. I had been fostering with Last Hope K9 since November 2014. Being unemployed allowed me to take dogs that had separation issues, or needed more attention or training. You might say that i turned all my energy into dogs, and you’d be right. Pretty much hid from figuring myself out. I mean, I helped 17 dogs find forever homes and made great friends, but I didn’t help myself at all.

I wanted to start Jerky Queen again. The only problem was that I (thought I) needed to be in a USDA certified location and when I started it the first time around, my day job funded it. Unemployment didn’t even pay my bills. I had people who wanted to invest, but they wanted too much. So that went to the back burner.

Speaking of which, i was brooooke by Fall. I needed to start figuring something out. I had been actively searching for work but the same issue came up…I needed the big paycheck to afford Boston, but I didn’t want the fancy, corporate job that came with it. I was totally willing to start over or from the bottom, but I couldn’t afford my lifestyle.

My bestie makes and sells soap. Really great soap that you can buy, btw. In an effort to get up to VT to visit her, and to also just help out, I was going to work the Apples & Crafts Fair with her. Columbus Day Weekend in Woodstock, VT…sign me up! Even though leaves hadn’t peaked yet, it was so beautiful! I fell in love with Vermont all over again. It was then that I decided I was going to make VT my home…I put the order out to the universe. I’d later learn that you need to be very specific with those orders! I forgot to say that was my 3-year plan. I added VT into my search criteria so I could see what kind of jobs were out there. By November my research would find a part-time job opportunity, and a shot-in-the-dark post to the list-serv would find me a place to rent and I moved……basically on a whim.

My year of unemployment is over. It looks like that part-time possibility was meant to be and I have another part-time job so I can catch up on bills. I am in the most charming town on the planet! Looks like that plaque was quite the omen after all.