Giant Independence Day Cakes

Hinesburg celebrates 250 years as a town this year, so our July 4th parade theme was Hinesburg’s birthday. Several people who made floats for the parade had the same idea–to create a giant cake. Here they are, with some bonus pics.

Getting Things Started, 1762 Style

The Most Genuine Float–No Vehicle Visible

Lorax Motif

Cake and Cupcakes

This One Won Best Float

Plus Firetrucks. What’s a Parade Without Firetrucks?

Hinesburg July 4th Parade 2010

Went to the parade. Sweated. My son and I waited in the sun while the girls in the family scooted off to ride a float. They handed 0ut candy while we watched the procession. We ate a slice of pizza afterwards at Good Times Cafe. Skipped the festivities. Too hot. Watched the fireworks in the swarm of mosquitoes from the home of friends in town. A good show, especially with the neighbors starting things off. It is hot again today. And tomorrow. Heat wave, baby.

On the Way to the Start

Girl Scout Float

Lots and Lots of Firetrucks...

And Classic Cars...

And My Favorite Tractor...

And of Course Llamas

Even the founding fathers would approve of llamas. I have not doubt.

Snowing Like Stink

Snowing Hard

This is what it looked like this morning when we rose. It was snowing like stink. It was snowing hard last night as well. And check out this vehicle:

Loaded Car, Early in the Day

This was way back this morning when we looking at getting two feet of snow by the end of the day. Now it looks like we will get three feet of snow. It is after 3:00 now and it is still falling like the devil. It has been snowing for a long time now. Yesterday, all last night, all day today. We have maybe two and a half feet of snow now and we will likely get another six inches or so. Nuts. Check out the same view later in the day:

More Snow on the Car, Afternoon

The plow crew will be out today all day, maybe all night. I can only imagine them barely keeping up with it. We are in some kind of weird snow belt with this weather system. Usually we are not the spot to get the most snow, but this time around that is just the case. It keeps falling and falling.

Town Plow Getting the Job Done

And here’s one more, trail in the snow with intent to create smiles. Happy New Year with this storm. We might have a snow day tomorrow. It won’t affect me, as I have a day working at home planned, but it gets me excited anyway. Here’s hoping we break some snowfall records.

Love the Snow. You?

Bobcat by the House

This afternoon, hanging with my son and a friend of his, I look out and see a bobcat walking down the driveway. It had come out of the woods and walked down to the end. It sat there for a bit and then dashed into the tall grass to hide when a car came down the road. It was way cool, although I was more into it than the boys. I guess others have seen a bobcat, maybe the same one, not too far from here. I guess now would not be the time to get those chickens…

Walking Down the Driveway

Still Walking

Bobcat Tracks After it Disappeared

Learning Personal Finance

We went to the farmer’s market in Hinesburg yesterday. I emptied my wallet. I didn’t even get all I could have gotten, but our bag was full and the kids were antsy. Next time I’ll bring two bags. And make the kids carry one.

This market was great. I arrived with my two children right when it opened, at 9:00. It was held in the Hinesburg Town Hall. There is a summer farmers market weekly but once the fall hits it whittles down to once per month. We missed the one in October so I was eager to be there for this one.

I purchased leeks, onions, potatoes, garlic, spinach and other stuff. I was happy enough. I was looking for food. My daughter, however, was looking to spend some money.

I had told her I would give her some money so she could buy some things herself. The space is small and I figured it wouldn’t be crowded first thing. So I gave her five bucks and told her she buy whatever she wanted. We did a lap to start us off, to see who was there selling what. We tasted a purple carrot and looped back around. At the first vendor she bought a delicata squash, a tiny one, but cute and just right for her. A couple of tables down she bought some popcorn. It was purple, still on the cob but dried, four ears for a dollar. She bought four. Then she bought some of those purple carrots. She considered a stone charm, but it was five dollars and she didn’t want to blow it all in one shot.

This was great for both of us. She felt a sense of responsibility and I felt safe with her learning some lessons in how to spend money. I really don’t think I could have said no to anything there she may have said she wanted to buy. It was a farmers market.  She wants to buy carrots and mini squash? I’m good with that. She wants to but some jewelry made by someone here in town?  I’m good with that.  She wants to buy honey, jam, hand spun yarn, fresh bread, eggs? How can I say no? It was ideal.

She is now the eager one, asking when the next market will be. There is one every Saturday somewhere around here. The next one is in Burlington, then Winooski, Shelburne, and back in Hinesburg again. And there are  others well into the winter. My daughter would gets the shakes if she saw all the vendors in Burlington compared to little old Hinesburg. I’m thinking we may have to take advantage of that. I can give up five bucks for this endeavor for several weekends if she is still into it. I have been wanting to go to these this fall and winter anyway. Fresh local food this late in the year? I can go out of my way for that.

The eggs we bought yesterday and way good, and I turned cauliflower, spinach, garlic and leeks into a fine dinner tonight. And the popcorn? Pops white, tastes great. And that was just one ear. That popcorn may have been the best deal of the lot.

Smoke News

My wife surprised me and took me out to dinner this evening.  She got someone to watch the kids, got all gussied up to look more beautiful than she usually does (which pretty much makes me get all weak-kneed on a normal day) and we headed over the hill to the Bearded Frog in Shelburne.  They have good food at that particular establishment.  The last time we ate there I had to try three times to make something resembling the melt-in-you-mouth squash soup we tasted.  My soup was good but it wasn’t as good.

We sat in the corner, all cozy and romantic, only you can’t really have a cozy and romantic dinner when you are bound to run into somebody you know.  One of our neighbors and her daughter, visiting from New Jersey, sat at the table next to ours once things got hopping.  We chatted, of course, as was polite, and genuinely interesting in this case.  And fun.  We shared some laughter and the people at the next table over got into the conversation and it was generally a good time.

But the point here is that our neighbor is the one who owns the property where the smoke has been coming from (see yesterday’s post).  It was still smoking when we left the house for our sans children event.  It turns out she was away, came home about 5:00 to see the tower of smoke rising near the house.  She could tell right away it wasn’t the house (her first fear) and thought it might be the barn (fear number two).  Fortunately it was just a pile of hay.  It was a big pile of hay, combusted by the heat of the day.  Some folks pushed it around to make sure nothing else would catch, and smothered it as much as they could.  But a fat old chunk of hay is going to burn until it wants to burn no more.

The house still smelled of smoke when we got home, but it obviously was starting to burn itself out.  So no one hurt, nothing lost but a good deal of hay, and a mystery solved for sure.  The sky is still a little hazy but at least we understand more clearly.  That’s something.

Holy Smoke

Still Smoking, 24 Hours Later

Still Smoking, 24 Hours Later

Last night as we sat on the deck and ate fresh wraps for dinner (delicious=mayo+pesto+just picked tomatoes+cucumbers+lettuce still warm from the sun+arugula+Shelburne Farms smoked cheddar) I looked up and reacted to what I saw with “Holy smoke!” What I saw was a big cloud of smoke.  We all turned and looked at it together and wondered, What’s that all about?

It smelled like burning wood and the smoke was white.  A house fire means black smoke and nasty smells, not to mention lots of sirens, and vehicles zooming about.  So I figured it was some big brush pile or a bonfire.  But it kept burning.  Long after dark it glowed, and the sound of back up beeps chorused with the crickets and cicadas.  Even when I woke in the wee hours the smell of smoke drifted through the house.  It was still going.

This morning we could still smell it.  When I drove up over O’Neil Road this morning I could look down and see the white plume.  I was gone all day but when I returned it was still smoking.  So what the hell?  It was clearly not out of control but who could be burning something this long?  And why?

My wife went for a run on a route that would take her past the mysterious smoldering.  When she returned her report was this:  It was a huge pile of hay, smoking away.  It may have caught fire spontaneously in the sun.  It may have been triggered accidentally.  In any case, the pile was big and the smoldering was going to continue.

It still makes everything smell smoky.  The sky, before the sun set, was dimmed where the smoke drifted.  And it keeps on.  It seems to be contained.  I hope it is.  It seems a loss of good hay and hopefully that is all that is lost.  Smoke in the air did provide an aura of autumn for a while.  Now, however, it is starting to seem plain old stinky.  We are on track for some showers tomorrow.  Maybe that will muffle the fire.  Just in time for the really chilly nights.

Hinesburg July Fourth Parade, Three Days Late

Hinesburg Firetrucks on the Way

Hinesburg Firetrucks on the Way

There Were Old Cars...

There Were Old Cars...

...and Old Tractors...

...and Old Tractors...

...and a Pinkish Tractor.

...and a Pinkish Tractor.

There Were More Firetrucks, Including This One from Huntington

There Were More Firetrucks, Including This One from Huntington

A Horse (with Graduate) of Course

A Horse (with Graduate) of Course

A Motorcycle Type Jobber

A Motorcycle Type Jobber

Hardware Float...

Hardware Float...

...and Hippy Float

...and Hippy Float

That's All She Wrote

That's All She Wrote

Wretched Driving

I’ve done some driving in bad conditions. More than once I have driven in weather so bad that I stopped driving to spend the night in the middle of wherever. I have seen snow on the road.

Driving from Connecticut to Maine one time the visibility was so poor we couldn’t see the road and had to spend the night at a random hotel. Before I moved to Burlington we spent a day apartment hunting in a snowstorm. The drive back from the queen city was a slow slog on the interstate with swirling snow and cars off the road. A long drive.

Yesterday I drove from Milton to Hinesburg. That was not a speedy drive. I left later than I had planned. Get a little more work in, you’ve been there, no? I was in a windowless room, so I had no cues to how the weather had become so fierce. The snow was heavy on the car when I brushed it off and packed on the roads.

I made two stops before I hit the interstate, so I had time to consider whether I should even take the interstate. Would it be better to travel on roads where others would drive more slowly? Or should I just take the most direct route? Popping in for toilet paper (stocking up for the storm!) then filling the tank with gas (and getting a warm cup of decaf) I decided to go for the big road.

It was some of the most dreadful driving I have encountered, pretty much ever. It is not a drive for which I would have opted if I were leaving home rather than heading toward it. The worst moment of my journey last night was on a bridge, a semi passing me on the left and whooshing a cloud of snow so dense I could just see my hood. When I could see a little more clearly I was way too close to the guardrail.

I moved over soon enough.

When I finally exited that four lane highway, slowly, behind another (or perhaps the same) semi, a car too close behind me, on the icy exit ramp, I was somewhat relieved. Then I had to navigate traffic. To travel about two miles on Dorset Street took me at least an hour. I was passing the mall, along with all that other strip development, and it was the final Friday before Christmas, but still, those traffic lights slowed me down lots. The keystone light on Kennedy Drive must have cycled red and green twenty times before I drove through it.

I did make it home. The car was coated in ice and snow. I was too hot (I had to keep the heater blasting to keep the windshield from icing–it was 7 degrees out there!). I needed to take a leak. I was hungry. It was dark and late after a long work day. But I was home to a warm house and a beautiful wife and some smiling children and pizza hot from the oven.

I ran the gauntlet, and the reward was great. It is enough to make this man happy. Last night, the snow falling heavily through the darkness, I slept well. And in the morning, the snow kept falling.

Snow Still Falling in the Morning

Snow Still Falling in the Morning

Election Eve

Tomorrow is voting day.  It is a day to which I look forward in general.  Tomorrow will be an exciting one.  Lots of people will be voting and it promises to be an event at any time of the day.  Many Vermonters have voted early, including my wife, but I have been waiting for election day.  I want to be a part of the ceremony.

Voting in Hinesburg is an experience that makes me feel part of the place.  There are two districts here, the first of which consists of almost all of the town (Chittenden 1-1), and then mine, which consists our our house plus a handful of others (Chittenden 1-2).  We share a district with Charlotte in some weird districting.  There are 3,137 voters in town as of the end of January but only “a couple of hundred Hinesburg voters in Chittenden 1-2.”

What this means for Hinesburg voters is that for one race for state senate, there are different candidates.  Otherwise the ballots are the same.  What this means for this Hinesburg voter is that I get to go to a separate table where is no line.  It is like the frequent flier business class check-in for voting.

So tomorrow I will vote mid-afternoon, not the morning rush and not the evening rush.  Hopefully things will go smoothly and I will be on my way.  I am hoping there will be some donuts left and that my daughter, who will come with me to see democracy in action and all that, will have the patience after school to bear with it.  I plan to take the back way on the class four road to avoid possible traffic.  That may not be necessary but it will be fun anyway.

I can’t wait to vote.  It feels great.  Voting is not just a privilege but a duty.  Many people do not see it that way, I know, but I want to show my daughter that not only is it the right thing to do, but if you time it right, you might meet some neighbors and even get a donut.  Not that democratic duty should mean donuts, but if that helps her remember it, I’m good.

I hope you get out and vote yourself.  If you can, you should.  Otherwise you are a slacker, and I will tolerate no complaining about any elected officials.  Even if you voted for the other candidate.