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Skibunnies and Vermont, but not together

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A couple weeks ago we took a long (years long!) overdue visit to my brother’s family in Vermont. They had no snow, so there was no snow frolicking to be had, but plenty of nice hanging out. We visited my brother and sister-in-law’s workplaces, which were fascinating. He is at the most stereotypical dot-commy start-up  sort of place ever and she is at a maker space. Which for us meant we all played on the virtual reality set up they had. 2017-01-14-15-09-55
In all the times I’ve been to Vermont I’d never been to Ben & Jerry’s, so on Sunday afternoon we took a jaunt to there.2017-01-15-12-38-13 It was bitterly cold out-just the sort of day for tasting ice cream! The tour is actually very short, so it’s kind of amazing that they have made a tourist destination out of a 6 minute video. It was still quite interesting and the nicest place ever and made me feel even better about the company and all the good things they do. We bought some merch and some big cones of delicious ice cream (Paul had a local to the shop flavor-maple walnut)2017-01-15-13-33-06, took some photo ops,2017-01-15-13-54-14 and then visited the icy graveyard. This is where they have headstones for all the retired flavors. 2017-01-15-14-00-57So many of them I thought, “That sounds delicious! I can’t believe they don’t make that anymore!” and then to cap it off I grabbed a geocache from there and it was a travel bug, so I’ll now be hiding that somewhere in a cache in NJ.2017-01-15-14-04-55  We were also able to visit friends that Paul knows from long long ago. All in all it was a great 3 day weekend.

Last weekend was the weekend of the march, which was on Saturday. On Sunday we all went skiing at Jack Frost with Clark’s Boy Scout troop. I regretted signing up and really didn’t want to go (both weekend mornings getting up at 6, ugh). Despite my brothers both being avid skiiers living in Vermont and Colorado, somehow I got passed over when it came to learning how to ski and I’ve only ever gone once before, not very successfully. To my very pleasant surprise we all had a great time! There was a lesson to start, which was very helpful and fun, then we had lunch. Afterwards we just started going down the slopes. We stuck to PowderPuff and Snowflake, and honestly they were plenty exciting. You could really get up some speed on them and several times I kept thinking about how I was careening down a steep hill and if I fell it would really hurt. But I never fell once! Clark chose to snowboard, which did involve a lot of falling (from everyone new to it, I noticed) but he had a great time with his friends and actually we barely saw him. 2017-01-22-13-46-20Tabby surprised us by being amazing at it. She loved it and confidently kept heading down completely on her own, zooming toward the bottom and ending beautifully at the ski lift. 2017-01-22-13-36-11It was not a very nice day out, but it managed to not rain on us. Clearly all the snow was manmade, and the ski lift ride was not very scenic since it was dirty brown leaves below. 2017-01-22-14-47-00 It was really fun and both kids have asked to do it again (drat! What an expensive day!)

The worst part was the tight boots which left narrow bands around both my legs that were raised into blisters. It’s a week later and the one area still really hurts! Surely that’s not right?

 

Oh, and somewhere in all that we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary to us!2017-01-17-07-34-59

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The Women’s March

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January 21, 2017.
If you had ever asked me as a teenager if I would take part in protests, like those of the 1960s, I would have said no. Hadn’t we conquered civil rights? and gender and racial equality? Well, no. We haven’t. And those things and many more are under threat. Like thousands of other women (and men) I joined in on the Women’s March today. I’m so glad I was a part of what I believe is a historic event. I chose to go to the march in Trenton, which I’m pleased to report was super organized and manageable. There were several marches in our small state, and this one (at our state’s capitol) had about 6,000 people.

The day began very early, picking up my friend and meeting other friends at the parking lot where the bus (we did Share the Bus-bought tickets/reservations ahead of time) was meeting us. To our surprise there other librarians we knew there! The camaraderie was evident from the get go as we all greeted each other, compared pussy hats and signs. My friend Melissa and I regretted that we had not made homemade clever signs. There were so many good ones on display today! We did carry ones provided to us by the ACLU. When we arrived in Trenton our bus dropped us off right at the War Memorial and we streamed right in the front doors. I’m so happy we made it inside and got to sit in the auditorium. And then, out of the 6000 people, super delighted to find my friends Liz and Eleanor just a few rows away. 2017-01-21-11-41-16The vibe was very merry and exciting. And then the speakers and event began. There were many speakers, and they were all great-inspiring, rousing us, joining us all together, cheering, etc. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Cole, you are my new favorite politician. Young, old,

[OK, it’s been a week since I started this. Gah! The enthusiasm and feelings remain, though. Get on that 10 actions in 100 days, everyone. ]

So, uh, where was I? Yes the speakers were awesome. Although I didn’t get to experience being part of the really, really big crowd outside, I’m really really glad I had a seat. After that part concluded we poured out to join the people already marching toward the State House.Women's March on NJ
Women's March on NJ Because the streets are small and we took a couple of turns, and I’m 5’4″, it was hard to really see and appreciate just how many people there were. I really could only see maybe a half block worth at a time. We marched along to the State House and stopped in front. There were more speakers, but the one who made me tear up was an elderly woman who’d been fighting for civil rights since she 13. She was a friend of Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks. It broke my heart to think of her having to keep fighting.
There were a lot of really cool signs (our big regret is that we didn’t make a clever one) and a merry mood and a very efficient and easy dispersion at the conclusion.

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I basically spent the rest of the day looking at all my friends pictures and messages from the marches they went to around the country, and looking at all the pictures pouring in from around the world. It was incredible to see.  Although this week has been filled with terrible governmental deeds and behaviors, I’m heartened by the response of the people.
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So, that was my experience and it’s one I’ll never forget. I’ll think back on it when I need to be reminded that most people are good, most people believe we are all equal, most people want peace and respect.

A Petition for more Sundays in January

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Wouldn’t it be nice if there could be more Sundays in January? More glorious afternoons with that incredibly bright sunshine reflecting off the white snow? Perfect light for working on sewing, perfect light for feeling happy and relaxed and cozy. Or perhaps I would just like the hours between 12 and 3 to somehow actually be 5 hours long.White Snow Bright SnowAhhh, well. At least this past Sunday was like that.  After how much I enjoyed my year end posts and look back at 2016, I resolved to get back to writing a bit more often here. I do like to start the year thinking of some resolutions and I do have a few in mind this year. I acknowledged when I started my job last year (almost a year ago!) that I would probably need to cut way back on, if not give up, several of my hobbies. That did prove to be true. But it also proved to be unnecessary. I found that I really, really, really missed my creative outlets. So, I have resolved to spend less time on Facebook, which is not very rewarding, and more time back on Flickr, which is. To take out my regular camera on the weekends and take some photos of things I like (even if I’ve taken them every season for the past several years.) Saturday it snowed and was dreary and cold all day long. It made for the coziest of evenings, including making homemade hot pretzels and of course watching a movie. Sunday the clouds cleared, the snow stopped, the temperature plummeted and it was a proper winter day. Hello Winter!Also resolved, without specifying any projects (even though I’d dearly love to do a seasonal mini quilt series to hang in the kitchen), I am resolving to regularly work on sewing/quilting/embroidery projects.

With that in mind one of the things I did on that perfect January Sunday was buckle down, finish tying all the knots on the Christmas quilt, cut and apply the binding. Now all that’s left to do is the hand stitching on the back (which I actually like doing) and a cute applique with my signature (it’s going to be a Christmas tree.) Sweetie grants her approval of this plan.Wave hello

A Look Back at 2016

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It’s time for my favorite post of the year! A look back at the past year. I really enjoyed reading the 2015 look back just now (that stuff was so long ago!)
2015 began with a bang for us-I got a job and returned to work. I can’t believe we’re coming up on a year anniversary of my first day! Obviously it’s been an adjustment in many ways for all of us (including the dog), but overall I’m so happy to be back in the field and very happy where I am. Not surprisingly, many of my hobbies took a hit from this, especially photography and sewing. I thought I’d make it up in the summer, but I didn’t.

In the spring Clark graduated from Cub Scouts and achieved the Arrow of Light. This was a big deal ceremony and we were very proud of him and happy for him. After so many years with the Cub Scout families and events it was a change for all of us to say goodbye to all of it.img_5945 Clark joined a new Boy Scout troop and has liked it very much. It began with going away to camp when summer began and continued in the fall with a few camping trips, some of which Paul went on. The best was a trip to Harpers Ferry W VA. A cool thing their troop does is have their own patch for the Appalachian Trail. You get a pin for each state you hike 6 miles of the trail in and spend a night in. In December both Paul and Clark received the patch with their first three pins on it. So far he has achieved Tenderfoot rank, which I wrote about here because of the embroidery aspect of it.
Meanwhile, Tabby and I continue along in Brownies. I’m happy that I was able to continue on being her leader, as I really enjoy our group of girls. Our troop attended our first “Camporee” and had a great time. It was not so much camping as all of us (including parents) attending an outdoor resort. We stayed in cabins and got to canoe and zipline and swim and it was all a lot of fun (even if Tabby & I were huge babies on the ropes course and got terrified.)2016-06-04-10-59-09
While Clark was at camp this summer Tabby and I took a trip to visit my dear childhood friend, Joanna, and her daughters. We enjoyed our road trip very much and spending time with our friends. We capped it off with an extra special surprise visit to the National Zoo. Tabby adores pandas and to see them in person was very exciting for her (and me!) It was super fun and special.

 

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After that it was pretty much just summer as usual, until we took our family vacation to Boston. Although I barely posted anything this year, I did write a pretty big post about that trip here.  It was a super vacation including whale watching, art, history, and the big event-Pearl Jam at Fenway Park. mosaicboston
Speaking of concerts, it was a big year of concert going for me and Paul. I wrote about all the summer/ fall concerts here. All told, I went to see the Indigo Girls, Guster, Sigur Ros, Pearl Jam (twice!), Weird Al, Kishi Bashi, Band of Horses, The Monkees, Squeeze, The Legend of Zelda (symphony), Pokemon Symphonic, Ben Folds, Ben Folds with yMusic, XPN Fest (Darlingside, David Wax Museum, The Districts), Barenaked Ladies (with Howard Jones and OMD),  Flight of the Conchords, Crash Test Dummies, and Richard Thompson. It was a good variety of music and venues and a great part of the year.2016-09-24-22-37-56

We had one other trip this year, and that was a short getaway to Watkins Glen, NY. We’re not race car fans-the allure for us is the amazing gorge there. We’d been there once before, just to hike the gorge (in the rain!), but this time we stayed in a cabin for a couple nights. It was a lovely relaxing trip that included not just hiking the gorge, but also a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass, which was awesome.mosaicwatkins

Our menagerie remains large, but this year we sadly said farewell to Nibbles. He had been losing his sturdy plumpness and got rather thin and then one day it happened. We all loved Nibbles and were sad to say goodbye to him. Nibbles

We also said farewell to my mom’s dog, Sophie. At 16 1/2 years old she had a wonderful long life, but her departure left a hole. Perhaps she’s playing somewhere with her dear old friend, Pippin. In the coop there many additions as well as deaths. Our big President Rooster died, I chased a fox across our front yard who had a chicken in his mouth-she escaped but he came back for her and her dumb friends on the following two days. There were 13 chicks hatched over the summer and it was just baby baby baby peep peep peep everywhere.2016-08-09-13-17-32
Peeping out from Mother Hen
Some babies were nurtured more than others and of the un-nurtured group, who never were taught to go in the house at night, 6 of the 7 eventually got killed. Idiots. Our rooster Baddie was dethroned as the king of the coop by a up and comer young new rooster. Gordon continues to live in harmony with his chicken friends.
Willow continued to grow and mature and although she still eats food off the counters she is a marvelous dog. Although I think we both miss the big daily walks, she is actually very happy to instead have shorter walks in the meadow where I let her run off leash.2017-01-01-15-46-40

There were, of course, other fun days here and there-a Princeton football game, a Princeton hockey game, Tabby performing as Augusta Gloop with her 4H club at the fair, visiting the aquarium in the midst of XPNFest, holidays, birthdays, and fun for me-special days at school. One especially fun new thing this year was embarking on a long term tabletop game with our friends, Liz and Eleanor. We began Pandemic Legacy, which is a very intense game in which we are working to save the world from horrible pandemics. As you play the game you affect the board, actions, and characters (you can kill some) for the duration of the year long game. We are about halfway through and all I have to say is, good thing we’re not the real CDC.

Now, although I did say I haven’t been keeping up with photography, and there’s been a sad reliance on my phone this year and lack of Flickr participation, I did set one photography project for myself that I really enjoyed. Matching the Crayola colors from the 64 box to real life flowers in my garden.

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I didn’t even keep up with my “Favorites of 2016” folder! Here’s a link to it.

All in all, it was a pretty good year. Now, the elephant in the room. I can’t talk about a year end reflection without acknowledging that since November 9 we’ve all been down in the dumps (well, the adults in the house) and had our beliefs about mankind and the world gravely shaken. I have tremendous worries and concern about the next 4 years, but I will strive to do one small part by teaching my children to show respect and kindness to people and stand up to bullies.  Although it may not feel like it, I know there are still good people in the world and good moments. Would you believe we met another Pearl Jam fan in Boston and kept in touch? I mean, how lovely is that?  And I get to be a librarian again and immerse myself in educating and sharing books with students. And I get to see my children growing up and being smart. And even though I didn’t enjoy my hobbies as much this year, I do have them! And I met my reading challenge this year (read that big recap of my top books of the year right here.) And I have a super husband who is my concert partner and biggest fan. So, that was 2016. Let’s see what happens in 2017!

Anything Else?

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So anything else from this fall? Let’s see, we went to a Princeton football game and a Princeton hockey game, and had a grand time at both.
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2016-12-13-19-32-35 Hockey is more my speed than football, and as the far less popular sport, it was super cheap and easy to get to for a quick weeknight game. The rink was great and the rows only 6 back from the ice (we sat right at the glass.) 2016-12-13-21-10-12
Clark and Paul went on a couple camping trips with his Boy Scout troop, including a fantastic trip to Harpers Ferry, which included a hike up to this beautiful view of three states. See the beautiful view here and the proud hikers here .

In doing all these scout activities Clark was able to rank up to Tenderfoot at the December court of honor. This achievement made me finally get some sewing in, in the form of embroidery.2016-11-12-19-59-49 The tradition in this troop is that when a boy achieves this rank he receives a hand embroidered neckerchief. Pretty simple embroidery-all satin stitch and the design is printed on the kerchief. (You receive a kit.) Satin stitch is not my favorite, but it’s certainly easy to do and while this was a little tedious I was happy to do it and think it turned out beautifully. (I can only imagine if you didn’t stitch that this would have been extra tedious.)

Congratulations, Clark!

Tabby and I went with our troop to see a Disney on Ice spectacular and that was a lot of fun, too. I didn’t do any other sewing, despite getting that Christmas quilt top finished right before school started. I finally took a day and made the back and yesterday I put it together and began tying it. My hope is to finish tying it today and do the binding tomorrow, thus finishing it in 2016. It may need to be a “finish by the end of vacation” goal, though. I’m sure we’ll all enjoy it very much and it will be brand new to us when we pull it out at the start of next year’s Christmas season.

There will not be a Garden Wrap Up post this year because there really wasn’t a garden. I will do my usual Top 10 Books of the Year post, and possibly the big annual look back. In the meantime, I’ll wrap up with a couple pics I especially liked, from a day at a conference.

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Happy Fall Holiday!

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Let’s pretend it’s a couple months ago….
Happy Halloween! I have to say that this year I was looking forward to celebrating Halloween especially now that I work in a school. And indeed, it was super fun to see all the kids in costume and to dress up myself.

The library assistant and I planned to have coordinating costumes (as that had been tradition there, plus it’s fun.) We decided to go avant garde and be two actual books-the popular books in our library, Smile and Sister by Raina Telgemeier. We made the front and back covers be like a sandwich board. Paul ended up doing all the drawing, freehand, copying the actual book covers exactly. 2016-10-27-22-06-56
I used coarse silver glitter to be the sparkly braces. 2016-10-27-21-55-19They looked great and the kids were delighted to recognize their favorite books, and very impressed when they heard that Paul had drawn them (including the barcodes!)2016-10-31-10-24-47

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At home I didn’t wear it trick or treating because it was just too big. Tabby was a spider witch, which was adorable, 2016-10-31-07-40-27and Clark was Link again, except better this time because he wasn’t on crutches. This is the first year that Clark chose to go trick or treating with a friend in another section of town.
and now….
Happy Thanksgiving! We spent a lovely Thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle’s. This year I made a classic apple pie, except it was an apple pie with cheddar crust. I am not a fan of a slice of cheddar with a slice of apple pie not because of flavor, but the texture combination. This recipe solved that problem completely. 2016-11-24-10-27-00The crust was so sharp and short, it was like a delicious cheese straw. It was a delicious contrast and completely complementary to the apples. I also made salted caramel pumpkin thumbprints. A friend made them for the cookie party last year and I thought they were great. Unfortunately, I didn’t love them this time, finding the texture of the caramely pumpkin to be off-putting. I also baked lemon rosemary potato rolls, which are a very nice yeast roll.2016-11-24-10-26-14

Since we had ample time, we also went for a damp drizzly hike in the Sourlands. Since Clark has done a fair amount of Appalachian Trail hiking with scouts this fall, he’s been eager to show us just how great he is at it, which was nice. 2016-11-24-11-48-03

Here’s a picture of me and Tabby in front of the one last tree with leaves on it, a striking yellow in a forest that was now bare.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumn Happenings, Pt. 2: The Concerts

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Last year Paul and I went to a lot of concerts–so much that I called it the “Year of Concerts”. Well, I was wrong. 2015 was not the year of concerts, because 2016 was. While Paul was the one mostly going out, I did join him in quite a few this year, and several of them just happened to be this fall, including one that we took the kids to. And, in a curious turn of timing, 3 of them were literally in a one week span.
We went see Icelandic trio Sigur Ros at Radio City Music Hall, which was mind blowing. They play the dreamiest most atmospheric music ever, so it was a big surprise that it was truly the loudest concert I’ve ever been to. And at RCMH, with its beautiful ceilings and acoustics, that enveloping sound was amazing. It was incredible.2016-10-05-22-59-48We also saw Kishi Bashi at Union Transfer, who is definitely a bigger name now than when we first saw him a couple years ago (so good for him!) and that show was fantastic. Great venue, we were right up close, and I loved checking IG after the show and seeing pictures posted taken from the balcony in which you could see me and Paul on the floor right next to Kishi Bashi when he was crowd surfing while playing his violin. It was such a fun night dancing around and being caught up in his music.
We took the kids to see Weird Al and met a bunch of friends there. That was fun-a guaranteed entertaining time (though it’s the same tour as when we took them before so it was the same show.) 2016-09-20-19-39-24-1We went to see Ben Folds at the Mayo Center in Morristown, and that was awesome. We’d seen Ben just a couple months before, outside at Steel Stacks, standing pretty close to him. This was a seated venue with a very different performance-just Ben solo with his piano. And the second half of the show was all request. It was great. He sounded incredible and he started the show with Annie Waits, which I loved, and he also played The Luckiest, which is a really emotional wonderful song we had played at our wedding.
Here’s a blast from the past-we went to see Squeeze (with opener The English Beat) at the Keswick Theater. I’d never been to this theater before and it was so funky and old (plus we basically drove through The Goldbergs to get there.) 2016-10-14-19-54-52
For a venue that seemed like everyone would be seated and tame, this crowd of 40-50somethings did not let that stop them. These fans were there to have a good time and the band was clearly there to play their big hits and have everyone have a good time. It was a lot of fun!
And speaking of older audiences, we also went to see The Monkees at the State Theater. Now, I was a pretty big Monkees fan (even though obvs. they are from a generation older than me) and with Mike not performing with them and poor Davy dying, that just left Peter and Mickey, we decided to go. I had previously seen them (3 of them) in the 80s. I’m so glad we went. I knew every word to every song and it was super nostalgic and sentimental for me that to hear them and also to see projected clips from all the shows on the big screen behind them. Their new album has two super catchy songs on it and they were great. They paid homage to Davy very nicely without letting it get maudlin and I though the overall vibe of the show was great. It was all like a very happy trip down memory lane without being treacly or pretending to be something different. I thought Mickey did not sound great on some songs, but I forgive him. 🙂
Although I had fun at and enjoyed every show we went this year, the biggest highlight was probably seeing Band of Horses at the Fillmore in late September. We had seen them twice before, but always as an opener (first for Beck, then for Neil Young), and also at big open outdoor places. I had really high hopes that this show would let me hear them they way I really wanted to. And it did.2016-09-24-21-32-25 It was everything I wanted it to be-energetic, loud, playing all the songs I like, and in a great venue. As usual we stood on the floor fairly close (but not too close as to get poor sound) in the midst of the great throng. It was marvelous and they sounded fantastic. (A good opening act, too!) One more show we took the kids to was the Legend of Zelda symphony. Over the summer we’d seen Pokemon Symphonic, which was lovely, and this was also very lovely. Fun to see some cosplay, and the Mann Center is so pretty. The music was really gorgeous and there were some recorded bits of the people who created it telling about the storytelling of Zelda and the composing, and it was really interesting. And we started the fall by attending a performance of a little know pianist, Tabby.  
She’d only had about 3 piano lessons at that point, so played just a few bars of single notes, but she confidently and correctly played them! In the months since she has been really advancing and practicing and I can’t wait to see the next recital.

If you don’t like live music then this probably seems crazy and excessive to you, and I am surprised at how often I have to explain? defend? why we like going to concerts. So I’m not going to do it here, but I will say that one of the things I like at the new(ish) Philly Fillmore is the sculpture in the foyer that says LIVE. Is it live, as in “get out and live a little”? or is it live, as in “live music is incredible”? I think it’s both! When we see, hear, and immerse ourselves in a communal live music experience we are living! So maybe you don’t need to go to concerts all the time, but if you haven’t been to one in a long time, why not make it a resolution in 2017 to go see one live show?

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