October 31, 2012

pretty pile

Just in the nick of time, before Sandy dumped buckets on us, turning our little creek into something much more rushing, we got the last two cords of our wood stacked up for the winter. And a pretty stack it is too. In fact, if I were a little but more crazy, I'd say we should re-stack the wood in our shed like that so that we could have two. (But I'm not that little bit more crazy, because that would be...crazy)

The interesting thing about this style of stacking is that, while it seems like it would take longer than your traditional row stack, it's actually pretty darn fast. We stacked most of the two cords in a few hours where last time it took us a couple of days of stacking for the same amount. It could be that we're just getting faster, but I think it's because you really only stack the outside. Some of the directions we read had the inside stacked upright neatly, but others said you can just toss it in, and that's the route we went with.
We started by laying logs that were roughly the same size around in a circle. I stuck an old ski pole in the center and tied a three foot long rope to it so that the circle was pretty close to perfectly round.

Once that was down we stacked the first round, bark down, propped up along that bottom circle so that they are leaning in. This is the trick to the stability of this kind of stack, as long as the logs are tilted in, if they slide or fall a little, they just fall in on themselves, making it more sturdy. When you have a few rounds down, you fill the center up. As I said, we mostly just tossed them in, although we did check now and then to make sure the gaps were filled.
Round and round, with the bark down as much as possible, until the logs are laying flat instead of tilting in.
At this point we added a whole ring similar to that first row because our logs went flat all at the same time, but in some of the pictures I've seen, you just prop up a new row whenever you need to. As we worked up, we brought the sides in just slightly to create a solid dome.  (Sorry for the blurry pictures, it was getting dark at this point. Best I have)
When we got the top (ok, when Will got to the top, I was off at play rehearsal with the kids by then, the bark needs to be up to help shed the rain.

So there you go, just in case you ever need to stack a holzmiete. (Hey, you never know)

October 30, 2012

all well

The wind is still a-blowin and the rain is still a-pourin, but we seem to have escaped the worst of the storm here. I hope everyone out there is safe and sound on this morning after the storm!

October 29, 2012


And also, keep safe, East Coasters. We are as battened down as we can be, I think. Everything loose in the yard is tucked safely inside, windows are locked shut, water jugs and pots and coolers and buckets are filled so that we will have plenty if (when) the power fails and we have to stop using our well. We have food and flashlights and blankets and candles and board games.

This weekend we spent a few hours helping to sandbag some of the businesses along the river, especially those that were hammered terribly by Irene and have only just (one of them two weeks ago) opened again after more than a year of renovation. The kids helped out which was...helpful. Beware of children wielding long handled shovels was the main takeaway message from that experience.

Keep dry and safe and indoors friends.

of first dances

On Friday, despite coming home earlier in the day with a low grade fever and a distinct sluggishness, Briton went to his very first dance. I spent a good part of the day trying to decide what would make me a less terrible parent. Allowing my ever-so-slightly ill son to attend a dance with his classmates, all of whom he has, no doubt, already infected with...whatever he had. Or NOT letting my ever-so-slightly sick son attend a dance with his classmates where he might infect them with...whatever he had. In the end, we let him go. In part because he really was feeling better, but also because I remember, oh so clearly, my first dance. And I'm 100% sure that I would have wanted to go even if I was on my deathbed. Because first dances, they are important stuff.

My first dance was in sixth grade, so I was around a year older than Briton is now. In fact, since our birthdays fall just shy of two weeks from one another and my first dance was also a Halloween one, I'm pretty sure that he's exactly one year younger than I was. And until today, when I started thinking about first dances, I'd completely forgotten that that dance, that night, I had my first kiss. A nose bumping, cheek blushing, stolen peck behind the chairs we were supposed to be sacking. Embarrassing and awkward, as all first kisses are required by law to be. I remember that the boy in question was named Jake and that he was the absolute opposite of the type of boy I thought I would find myself with, if ever I were to find myself with a boy who I wanted to kiss. He did not read piles of books, or play secretly with the dolls hidden in the closet (at least I assume he didn't have dolls in the closet, but I never went to his house, so, you know, he could have done). He didn't play in the orchestra and wasn't in honors math and English. He wasn't, in other words, like me at all. He was, I thought at the time, "bad". Bad being relative when you are are eleven. Bad, meaning he didn't always always do all of his homework and the extra credit as well. Bad, because I couldn't even fathom disobeying like that. I thought I was being daring, romantic, to have a "bad" boy kiss me.

It didn't last long, my romance with the bad boy. I can't actually remember breaking up, or who did it, although I suspect it was him because I do remember crying buckets. But then, I always cried buckets, no matter who did the breaking up. Because I was a drama queen  and we drama queens like to deliver us some drama dontcha know? And after that there were other boys that I liked. Other boys who gave me awkward kisses. And two years later (yes, when I was 13) I'd meet another "bad" boy who, although I didn't know it at the time, would steal my heart for the long haul .

All of this is to say, there was a dance. And no matter what, my boy wanted to go. And I let him. Because first dances, they are important. They shape your life, just a little, and sometimes a lot. And whether or not this first small romance of Briton's ends in heartbreak and crying (because, ahem, he may have inherited his mother's drama queen genes) or if it just sizzles away, it's the first one. Ready or not, we're here, at that moment.

October 25, 2012

cold and blue and bright

It's starting to look very winterish around here. All bright blue skies and bare trees. Without the leaves we can see houses we never knew were there, tucked off of the road or down in the valley. Hints of roofs, curls of smoke, porch lights that used to be hidden by the foliage. Even our house, which is nestled so well into the woods that you'd never find it if you didn't know it was there, is almost spottable from the road. The green light bulb that hangs over the porch of the cabin can be spotted, just for a second, through the trees as you drive by.

The rest of our wood arrived this week. At the moment it is blocking our driveway, a huge jumbled heap. But we have plans to try our hand at stacking it into a holzmiete - a round, domed woodpile that, in theory, speeds up the drying time, takes up less space and is faster to stack (if you know what you're doing, which we don't) Besides being slightly more interesting to look at than the run of the mill stack-between-two-trees piles that abound here, it will fit better into the space that will become our permanent woodshed, just off the sun room in the patch formerly occupied by the hot tub.

When I do not come home from soccer or play rehearsal or PTO meetings and fall instantly asleep (ahem, I blame it on the early evening darkness, surly it isn't just...age) I've been slowly but surly embroidering constellations onto a quilt for Briton. Or maybe it's a comforter. Something in between I suppose. Hopefully, amidst wood stacking, rehearsal, school dances and last soccer games I'll finished that up this weekend so I can share it with you. But I'll forewarn you now, it's orange. Bright, traffic cone orange. Per his request. Sometimes my head hurts a little from looking at it after I've been sewing for a while. All the more reason to get if finished and back to projects with more muted hues.

October 23, 2012

on boys and girls who just keep getting bigger

I saw a picture of a new baby the other day. A blogger that I read recently adopted a wee little girl and I sat, staring at my screen, looking at the photos of that tiny little thing and though, "Crap, that was a long time ago for us!"

Because, folks, my kids just keep growing. They won't stop! It's whizzing by! Flying!

This week, on Friday, our boy heads off to his first boy/girl dance. You may remember the drama surrounding the whole "asking a girl to the dance" issue. We got over that stress, found out that he only had to ask a girl to dance, at the dance and I though whew, crisis averted. Still time before I have to deal with that particular hair greying moment.

But no, it seems that Briton is something of a Romeo, having already asked a girl if she will dance with him once they get there, AND having volunteered for the dance set-up committee with her. The boys in his class are now coming to him for advice on talking to girls and another mother asked if we are providing a corsage, because her son wants to know if he needs to get one too, if he can work up the courage to ask the girl he wants to dance with.

Uh, no. And...
Holy Crap.

I'm tempted to let it slip that two nights ago I caught him practicing the Moon Walk in his room at WAY past my bedtime and that this morning, we had to battle with him to get him to get his pants on. But that would probably be a little too embarrassing, right? I did tell him, at five minutes till bus time with no evidence at hand that he planned on getting dressed ever, that I had absolutly no problem with sending him to school in only his underpants.

He got his clothes on in time you'll be happy to know.

It's like I have a teenager. Or at least a tweenager. Oh that's right. I do. Sigh.

He's going on over night field trips. She's in love with High School Musical (And, OK, I know I'm late to that particular train but man is that movie cheesy. Like Cheese Whiz cheesy. Were Disney movies always like that?) He wants more "rock music" on his ipod and less of that Celtic/folksy "stuff" I listen to.  She's confiding that Tony wants to be her boyfriend but it won't work because "I would never have a boyfriend named Tony!" (Where did she get that? And also, from henceforth until she is 30, all boys shall be called Tony).

I am not ready! I AM NOT READY.

Cant we just, I don't know, put them in a freezer or make time stand still or something?

October 22, 2012

over the river and through the fog

On Saturday I woke up early, earlier even than I do on school days when we have to be out the door at 7, and drove through a foggy, misty morning down the length of Vermont and into New York for my first visit to Rhinebeck.
Normally I dislike driving, hate it actually. But driving all by myself through forests and over mountains and past farmhouses with a good book to listen to (we almost never listen to books when we drive as a family as they almost always put Will to sleep - even the exciting ones- and little ears in the backseat limit what exactly you can listen to anyway), well, it was kind of pleasant.
The wool festival was, of course, wonderful, as wool festivals are. I spent most of the day plunging my fingers into different bags of fiber or petting pretty yarns. I visited the sheep (of course!) and threatened Will (via text) to bring this lady home. Look at that face! I went back and forth and back and forth between three different Alpaca fiber stalls, feeling and touching and debating before buying two pounds of lovely charcoal fiber to spin for a sweater. My first attempt at spinning an adult sweaters worth of yarn. I also picked up a sweaters worth of yarn in my favorite greeny green and a half pound of some romney wool fiber that should be named Maleficent, because it looks just like she did in Sleeping Beauty. Black and green and purple and a little yellow. I usually buy my wool in 4 ounce bags for spinning so having the chance to buy it by the pound was delicious.
I also got a chance to see some of my New York Knitting gals, which was a treat, although one couldn't make it because of a family emergency and was very much missed, by my stash as much as by me because she would have convinced me to buy way more, the way good friends do :)
And then, after roast lamb sandwiches and cider donuts and with a (new!) basket full of (new!) fibery treasures and two huge caramel apples for the kids and some super warm socks for my sweet husband who didn't bat an eye when I said I would be driving 10 hours to look at yarn and wool and sheep, I drove home. Back through the colorful trees, back over the mountain, even back through the fog that returned for the last hour of my trip (slightly more stressful in the dark at the end of a long day, I must say)
Now it's time to get spinning. And knitting. And spinning! And KNITTING! Mummmm, a winter's worth of fun ahead.

October 19, 2012

going, going...almost gone

The leaves up in our little pocket of the forest stayed green for much longer than the rest of the valley, but now, at last (and quite suddenly) it's all gone gold. And day by day they are becoming more bare.

Tomorrow I'm attempting a slightly insane four and a half hour drive (each way!) to the Duchess County Sheep and Wool Festival- aka Rhinebeck - all in the name of wool and I'm a little giddy at the thought- of the wool, not the drive.

It's funny how quickly you get used to the weather where you are. All sorts of chatter on Ravelry about it being "finally cool enough" to wear sweaters at Rhinebeck, and I'm thinking "finally warm enough" to NOT wear a jacket.

October 18, 2012

getting into the holiday spirit (already)

I'm not sure if it's the somewhat regular snow flurries we've been seeing out our window lately (none sticking yet thankfully) or the fact that hats and mittens are in regular use or the almost bare trees, but my children seem to be gearing up for Christmas already. Evelyn is writing notes. Briton is making his list, the mini trees have been retrieved from the basement.

Eek! I haven't even finished (ok, or started) Halloween costumes yet!

October 16, 2012

to middlebury and back again

Middlebury is the place that we first fell in love with Vermont. In fact, Carol's Cafe in Middlebury is the exact spot where it happened. We sat there for hours, playing Jenga and scrabble and doing puzzles, watching the flood waters rise during the hurricane. And despite the impending storm and the waterlogged campsite and the worry that we had no where to go, we felt at home. So I love Middlebury. It's one of my favorite places in my new state.

Yesterday, with both my mom AND my grandma in town, two kids in school and a husband at work and a whole DAY with nothing specific to do other than pick the kids up after school and take them to Ben and Jerry's (because a visit to Vermont wouldn't be complete without a trip there) we drove up over Lincoln Gap, down through Bristol with it's pretty church spires and town green and through farmland to Middlebury for lunch (at Carol's, naturally) and then puttered back homeward again. And it was lovely. Even better than the ice cream - although that was pretty delicious too.

October 12, 2012

reading now

We've had something of a reading revolution around here. A year ago Evelyn wasn't reading at all and Briton read only under duress. This year, the girl is reading in that-reads subtitles and signs and EVERYTHING - kind of way and Briton came home last week declaring that Literacy is his favorite subject in school. As you can imagine, my heart swooned at that just a little bit. He's been reading much, MUCH more all year, but hearing that it's his favorite? I'm still smiling about it.
Yesterday the new Wildwood landed on our doorstep and I don't think any book has been this anticipated in our family since the last time I stood in line at midnight for a Harry Potter. We've been reading The Penderwick Sisters books lately at bedtime and have really enjoyed them and last year we absolutely loved Elizabeth Enright's Melendy Family books, which I would highly recommend to anyone with kids, but Wildwood was different. It was the kind of book that I wanted to read. As in "NO! You cant put the kids to bed tonight! We have to read another chapter!" kind of wanting to read it. Even if you don't have kids I'd recommend this book (now series) because they are wonderful. There were TEARS last night when we got home too late from a school event and then had to do homework making it just way too late to start the book (Evie had already fallen asleep, and we couldn't start without her) I don't think I ever imagined a time when my son would cry over the fact that he couldn't read.
Books that are equally great for kids and adults are rare, I think. But when they do come along it's almost magical. I vividly remember my fifth grade teacher Mr Koep perched on his stool at the front of the class, clearly not wanting to stop while reading The Hobbit to us. We were entranced, all of us, and so was he, although I imagine he had read it several times before. I remember my dad sitting on the edge of the bed, reading one of the Narnia books until I fell asleep and then finding out the next day that he had kept reading, not wanting to stop. And I'll remember, always, sitting on the floor of the kids room in our apartment in New York, reading far longer than I planned, wanting to know if Pru will find her little brother, if the Bandit King will win the day. I hope they do too. And I hope, so hope, that this one holds the same enchantment for us.

What books were like that for you and your parents or kids? I need a list so that we don't have Wildwood withdrawal again when we are done with this one!

October 11, 2012

by the fire

Now that the evenings are coming early, and cold, we've been spending a lot of time curled up around the wood stove, puttering on projects. The kids have taken over the den upstairs in the evening. Coloring, Lego-building, impromptu stuffed animal circuses complete with hand colored tickets and programs and money - in case you want to buy souvenirs, of course. Which leaves downstairs (and the fire) to the grownups.
The chair (which I love) now has a thick, fluffy blanket thrown over it. Perfect for snuggling down under on these cold nights. I'm not the only one who loves it (fancy that) so I generally have to shove kitties and (and sometimes Will) off to the couch, but it's become my go to place for the after dinner hours.
One of our nesting tables is almost permanently next to it now. For tea, and books and scripts for Christmas plays and ereaders and lots of projects. I'm trying my best to pair down my projects, finishing what I've started before I begin something else (which is very, very hard). So right now it's just three that are getting most of my time in those lovely evening hours. Briton's sweater - still not done but getting there.  A pair of socks started long ago for Will which, ahem, got lost in the Virginia to New York move. But that's ok, because it wasn't that cold in New York, it's here he'll really need them anyway. And the beginnings of my first embroidery project. Ornament gifts for friends. If they get done. It's clearly not my forte, but I'm working on it.

How about you? What are you working on during these fall nights?

October 9, 2012

up the mountain, down the mountain

Saturday morning we rode the chair lift to the top of the mountain, skimming the tops of the trees, looking down on mountain bikers and hikers and meadows that will be ski slopes. At the top, a rainstorm moved in, making the ride down colder and wetter than the way up, but still beautiful. It was a well timed trip, even with the cold and the rain, by Sunday a windstorm and knocked off most of the leaves at the top and on Monday snow dusted the highest points. Fall is almost over, winter is coming.

October 5, 2012


The dog and I went for a walk after a long, hard rain. The creek was so wild and wide we couldn't cross it, still can't cross it. Instead we keep coming home with muddy feet from climbing up the hill, not on our normal path. I've been taking photos our our window this week. Monday and Wednesday, then today, to watch the colors change. It happens so fast, one day we were still green, now it's mostly yellow all around us.

Yesterday the wind was blowing and it seemed to be raining yellow flowers. I should have run to get the camera but I just stood and watched it instead. Beautiful. I love, love, love fall.