Snow on Thanksgiving

We headed up to Stowe on Friday and it was snowing. It snowed for days. On Saturday, five days before the earliest Thanksgiving possible, we went nordic skiing at Trapp Family Lodge. It was some of the best conditions I have seen there. There were some (sort of) thin spots where water flowed underground, or where the wind blew across a field, but that can happen even mid-winter. It was March skiing in November.

We skied several times last week. The woods were magical. Winter wonderland and whatnot. And we cozied up inside by the fire. Since we were staying up there, we walked down every morning for coffee at the Kaffeehaus. We even walked down Friday morning when it was below zero.  We also got pastries there. They know how to do pastries. Couldn’t get enough of those, especially that almond croissant jobber, so it was a good thing it was a solid walk to get there or I might have gone twice each day. Maybe I did go twice one day. None of your business.

You can’t say snow isn’t beautiful. I mean, you could, if you are a curmudgeon, but seriously? Snow covers up the blemishes of the natural and the human world. It helps us see things in new ways. It makes its own sculptures. It is art. Check out this pic:

The wind had blown oak leaves, which cling longer than most, onto the clean field of snow. Many of them speared the surface and stood there–a crowd of oak leaves, waiting for someone to tell them where to go. They went nowhere. The next day, snow lay a blanket over them–temporary art transformed into a metaphor for slumber.

When we left, the day after Thanksgiving, the sun shone on more fresh snow. It gleamed. It glistened. Ski tracks called but we did not listen. We headed back home, leaving the wonderland behind. We still have snow here, just not as much. Tips of grass stand out in the meadow. Trees have no white. Snow is fickle, so hopefully it at least sticks around up high. If it doesn’t come to us, we will go find it in the mountains. I’ll give thanks for that.

Postcard Every Day


My daughter is off at camp for a month. The camp is great about making sure campers are off the grid. No cell phones or connected devices are allowed. They can’t even make phone calls on the camp phone for the first week. They do, however, have good old-fashioned mail.

I love mail. Getting a personal letter or card is a small gift. I used to often write letters to many friends. I rarely do that now. We send out holiday cards and I occasionally send a postcard, but I have succumbed to convenience and speed. I use email, text, Facebook messenger, what have you. While my daughter is at camp, however, I mail her a postcard every day.


I have two rules for these postcards. First, I put one in the mail every day, even if it is Sunday or a holiday. If I do it right, as I did this year, I start mailing them a couple of days before she leaves. That way she gets one on day one. The second rule is that the postcards must be adulterated. Some of them are pretty good postcards. The one above is a painting I love, on display at Shelburne Museum, but it needs captions to fit within my rules.

My daughter comes home next week. That means I stop sending her postcards soon. That takes some pressure off, but it is pretty fun to do so will miss it. My son is talking about going to camp next summer. That will mean possible double duty–two postcards per day if the are away at the same time. It would take some mental wrangling to come up with interesting modifications but, after three summers of practice, I think I’m up for it.



Sweet Set Up

The children spent and hour or so before dinner creating this whole story line about a big storm coming and how all the people and animals needed to be saved and all the cars needed to be inside the wall and on and on. They got way creative and got along, as they typically do, as well as any parent could ask. The result, which my daughter came rushing to tell me “You have to check out!” was this:

They will all get saved, all right!

And here are a couple of details, to give you a sense of how detailed they were sure to be:

These people were in need of saving

Animals saved!

Pumpkin Carving

We finally got out the spoons and knives and carved our pumpkins. As my son said, “We put in a candle and we have Jack-O-Lanterns!” The process, illustrated:


Pumpkins Ready to be Carved

Ready for the Knife

Scooping Out Pumpkin

Removing Innards

Pumpkin Guts


Pumpkins Drawn Upon for Carving


Pumpkin Carving

Artist at Work


Really Scary, Scary, and Not So Scary--Waiting for Dark



Car Story

Yesterday my daughter wrote a story, pictured here and translated below:

The Original

The Original

Once there was a car and it was clean and it was small.  One day it went for a drive but it wasn’t looking where it was going and it got lost so it found a place to sleep.  In the morning it started to look for its home but it just could not find its home.  So that night it built a home and it had a good night sleep.  The next morning it made some new friends and it missed its old friends.  But it lived happily ever after.  The End.

Slow Day

My boy is asleep in the chair next to me.  He had a fever.  He just woke from an hour long nap.  Then he fell asleep again.  The kid is out.

My daughter had a rough morning, feeling homesick about this half day art camp she has been attending.  It is three hours in the morning during the week.  She has had a blast.  Today she was afraid of the dog she met yesterday and concerned about the number of kids and other stuff.  She went anyway.  She came home and said it was the best day yet.

I installed three new smoke detectors today.  I also installed two carbon monoxide detectors.  The ones in the house might be twenty years old.  Who knows?  That was a satisfying project.  It rained again so no painting today.  I also dealt with a bunch of eBay sales.  EBay sales don’t exactly rake in the cash here but it is kind of fun, I have to admit.  And it pays for our Christmas presents.

I was ready to tackle a few other tasks but they involved making too much noise.  I need to finish taking out the bush I started tearing up yesterday, but it is right outside the window where my son is conked out.  No need to wake him for that project.  It can wait until tomorrow.

So I didn’t get much done today.   It felt like a Sunday.  It is amazing how a day can slip away when you are worried about a sick kid and you have a bunch of other days ahead of you.  The sun is finally out so it is good weather for some outside projects.  Oops, time to make dinner.  That’s a project I won’t put off.

Getting Crap Done

That was the theme of the day.  I was up earlier than I wanted this morning.  Our kids get crabby when they have to get up at 7:00 to get ready for the day.  Today they had the chance to sleep in.  They both were ready to get up at 6:15.  What gives?  So I was up early enough to stir the coals and get the fire going without matches.  Or even kindling.

Saturday has become bill paying day.  I get some satisfaction out of taking care of my debts.  I would prefer not to have so many.  I am working on that one.  Have you seen refinance rates lately?  Crazy low.  Should we wait to see of they get even lower?  If we do it now, we win.  If we do it later, maybe we win more.  Gamble gamble.  Anyway, I paid some bills.  Online and through the mail.  I like online payments.  Less waste, quicker, no stamps required.  But the plow guy doesn’t take online payments.

I baked bread again as well.  It was fair.  Maybe I’m not letting it rise enough.  It was cold today.  It think the thermometer rose to 15 but it was -4 when we rose this morning and stayed in the single digits for hours.  We went for a snowshoe, the four of us, around the front field.  The sun shone without wind so the ten degree air was fine.  We had toast when we got back inside, although the slices were not as tall as I would have liked.

Our compost bin is pretty frozen solid.  It is a tall peak of icy food bits.  Orange peels and pear cores spill through the grate.  C’est la vie, right?  Things will thaw at some point, although we are predicted to have a high temperature of five on Wednesday.  That is the high.  That should kill off some of those wooly adelgids and other invasive species.  Not to mention a few deer ticks.  The disease-carrying blood-sucking bastards.  I added some height to it this afternoon.

Any minute now we have friends on the way.  They plan to drop  off their children and take a night off.  A little sleepover for the tykes.  They should have a fine time.  Hopefully they will keep the strife to a minimum.  If they get too wound, we will plunk them in front of a video with a big bowl of popcorn.  I’m not too proud to say it.  We deprive them of television enough that it will be a treat anyway.  I have a dish of mac and cheese ready to pop in the oven.  That should be a hit, along with butter-soaked fresh bread.  Maybe they will even eat some carrots.

The temperature will get below zero again tonight.  I need to keep the stove stoked.  We’ll keep it warm inside while the vermin freeze to death outside.  I took a bucket of ashes out earlier.  They melted a little snow and they froze into a gray goopy mass.  It was like art.  Only not.  I will make some more art tomorrow.  You watch me.

Crafty Rascals

My wife was at a holiday party this evening so I was home with the children. I made them dinner. We ate together. We toasted several things, including their mother. We missed her.

I cleaned up. I asked them to be good to each other while I did so, and they did that. They took out some art supplies and worked with them. I came around the corner after cleaning, and listening with only one ear, to discover what they created.

We have a funky ride on toy that they loop around the stairs on the wood floor. They love it. They decided to decorate it tonight. In case you can’t see it very clearly, we’ve got a montage of sea creatures and party clothes. How’s that for a mix?

Art Car

Art Car