Friday, January 21, 2011

CT Highlights

Tree Decorating and Distraction
One Saturday evening we headed to the hot tub room to decorate the tree. Throughout December, Lily would get crabby in the early evening before falling asleep. Muzzie cleverly distracted Lily with the lights and ornaments of the tree (along with the chilly air in the glass-walled hot tub room).

Lily’s Breezy “Attack”
Lily spent time playing in an antique baby sleigh which freed me up to eat nearby. It was, however, low enough for Breezy (the 12 week old black lab puppy) to see Lily. One evening I was helping Mom prepare dinner while Lily was in the sleigh. Breezy snuck over and climbed all the way in with Lily, straddling her and licking her face up and down! Lily maintained a serene, thoughtful face and Breezy enjoyed the baby flavor. We only laughed after dragging Breezy out of the sleigh.

NH Trip
We traveled north to Andover and Salisbury New Hampshire for a weekend visit with my brother’s family and my grandparents. Lily got to meet her new cousin, Jack (born November 27, 2010), Auntie Mary and Uncle Justin. We stopped first at Justin’s wood grinding yard in Hopkinton; it was really neat to see the fruits of all his hard work. Dinner was spent at Grap and Grandpa’s house with visits from my Auntie Daryl and Uncle Stephen.

Christmas was celebrated in Old Lyme. Emily and Jeremy traveled from Easthampton, MA; Nana came up the driveway; and Justin brought his family from NH in their Jetta…Mary, one-month-old Jack, Liebherr the blue healer dog, and, to add interest two chickens. We also got to briefly see my Uncle Jordan and Auntie Barbara and cousins Lucy and Imogene from Old Lyme.

MA Trip
Chris drove Mom, me and Lily to Easthampton, MA to see Emily for lunch and a quick tour and taste of one of the coffee shops she oversees. It was pretty neat to see the home she and Jeremy have made for themselves and to learn more about her work these days. I am so impressed with how she has taken her many talents and applied them to a supervisory position that affords her so much flexibility and variety. She visits each of three shops each day, spends time in the office doing bookkeeping, and one day a week in a warehouse; all for a very successful, unique business owned by their friend.

I dropped Chris off at the Old Saybrook train station to begin his voyage north to Warren, VT. He took the local line to New Haven then swapped to The Vermonter, an Amtrak line going all the way to Montpelier. A taxi took him to a youth hostel where he spent one night before walking about a mile up the road to Yestermorrow Design/Build School. Two weeks were spent planning, drafting, learning skills and applying it all hands on. The ten students and three instructors focused on an overview of natural building methods including straw bale, cob, straw clay, plaster, and timber frame. Chris really enjoyed the chance to really get into these more sustainable methods of building and even drafted ideas for a teeny home of our own! I was glad when he returned as Lily had gained a few pounds and my shoulders were feeling it…he came off the train looking more like a Vermonter himself having not shaved the entire two weeks!

The day we left for NH, Dad got a deer and over the next week worked on processing it including some sausages in tricky natural casings. One day a resident red-tailed hawk had a mallard hen in his claws. Dad ran at the hawk and the duck was able to escape with her life. A blue heron visited the northern point of the pond on occasion to warm his poofed-up feathers. Dad’s nightvision trailcam captured some eerie photos of three or four different coyotes along with some fluffy raccoons, creepy possums and a skunk or two. The squirrels run rampant in the yard and enjoyed a daily meal at the bay window bird feeder. The usual Canada geese and mallards hung out on the pond ice and traveled up the hill for their predictable meal of whole corn served up by Dad.

Turkey Fry & Moose
Mom was in charge of turkey for thanksgiving this year and bought an extra just in case…we ate it our last night in CT. Since Chris and I spent thanksgiving in New Jersey, we missed the New Hampshire celebration where they had one turkey in the oven and one deep fried. A testament to my Dad’s love for me, he agreed to get it all set up again and fry this one for us! Nana joined, Emily traveled down again and my friend Kristin came so it was nearly thanksgiving all over. We had one more esteemed guest on this evening: Moose. Emily and Jeremy decided on a yellow lab who was born around thanksgiving time and we were so glad to meet him during his earliest puppy days.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Living in the House

Since around January 1st we've been living in the house. It got too cold to use our pipes and Chris went away for two weeks to Vermont. We moved into my old bedroom in the house my parents built. I appreciate it much more now than when I was growing up. It's cliche, but I took so much for granted. 

The house is a cape with an extension out the back. It sits on almost five acres with barn and pasture. My mom and dad have really improved the land since it was given to them by my Nana. They tore down the existing house which belonged to Dad's Auntie Florence. They rebuilt as they could, cleared trees, put in a new driveway, built a garage, woodshop, and dog kennel, they bought adjoining land to expand the lot, they even had the brook dug out for a pond. Looking at pictures of the decades-long process makes me amazed at all the hard work they did.

I was able to have our horses at home, run barefoot amongst goose decoys in the front yard, ride a zip line into our pond, make hay forts in the loft, chase our dog Maggie when she got a green pepper from the garden,  and stand in the corner by the woodstove wrapped in a towel after getting out of the hottub. When I put it all down, I feel spoiled...and grateful.

Living in the house again has been great. During the days Lily and I are together all day taking walks, seeing Nana, reading, researching our cross country trip, and watching movies. When Muzzie and Popsie get home, one of us makes dinner while the others entertain Breezy the puppy and Lily. We wind down with a fire in the fireplace or watching HGTV shows with Muzzie.

Major differences between the camper and a house with a foundation? Extra freezer storage. Using a toaster instead of our gas oven to make toast. The ability to take a bath (not that I have yet). and TV which is a horrible distraction from the beautiful real world.

After two weeks without Chris, I'm ready to start our adventure and get back to the camper!