April 29, 2013

busy days

We have a thermometer on the wall of our kitchen. It's been there (I think) since the house was first built, reporting on how cold or warm it is outside at that moment. When the needle is pointing directly up, it's 40 degrees. And for months, the needle has mostly leaned to the left. Or even pointed downward to the below zero numbers. Always to the left, barring a few warm afternoons here at there. It's become a kind of joke in our house. of the "is it ever going to warm up?" variety. "Maybe it's stuck!" we say, rubbing our arms or pulling on a sweater. "Maybe it only reads cold temperatures!"  "Maybe it will never get warm again!"

So I was surprised, this morning, to glance at it as I made coffee and find that it was, just barely but quite distinctly, to the right of 40. And when I looked at the forecast I found that even at night, this week our temperatures will be staying to the right. Spring, it seems, has finally arrived.

And suddenly, we are busy with springy kinds of things. Soccer practices and gardens to build. A chicken coop that is outside but still not quite done. A beehive that needs to be in place in a few days for the arrival of it's residents. Porch windows need to be taken down, dead wood needs to be dragged off of paths, vegetables and grass and flowers need to be planted. The rainwater redirection project needs to be completed. The lake needs to be visited. We need to catch some peepers and look for tadpoles and get ready for spring concerts and cut the dogs hair because she's starting to get hot and grumpy with her winter coat. So much. So many projects. I feel a little like we've been hibernating, and now we are awake and starving after a long winter. Time to go and do and plant. It's hard, sometimes, to remember to slow down and enjoy the spring, to not be overwhelmed by the projects that are piling up all around us, because it's spring. But it is spring. Glorious, warm(ish) sunny spring. And it needs to be enjoyed.

April 25, 2013

well hello old friend

We have only been down to the resting log once since the snow started falling in earnest. The path down is a little steep and precarious at the best of times, and covered with ice and snow was downright dangerous. But the last of the snow has officially gone, even from the little shady spots where it seemed like it would last forever. So down to the creek we went.

The water is still icy cold. Too cold to stand in while you dig new channels or search for that perfect rock. But there is plenty of bank to play on, and flat stones to try to skip across the water. And the resting log is still there, waiting for us to stop and sit and stay awhile. Maybe not as long as we will this summer. The wind whips along the little ravine and we end up chilly after a short stop, ready to head home for hot chocolate. But it's nice to see our old friend the resting log again.

April 22, 2013


I had forgotten, though the long winter months of watery sunshine, how intense the sun can be here. I'm not sure if it's the altitude or the latitude or the lack of pollution, or perhaps a combination of the three, but the sun, even on a day with still chilly temperatures, can seem scalding. It's deceptive because the temperature gauge on the wall might still be hovering in the forties but sweaters and hats are quickly shed and put back again as we move from sunshine to shade. Friday it was warm enough even for flip flops and sundresses. Bare skin that hadn't seen the sunshine for months was bared, shoulders got a little tan, shorts came out of the bottoms of drawers.

We spent most of yesterday outside digging the beginnings of a bioswale to help (we hope) make next mud season a little less....muddy...in front of our house. This is what comes of being married to an urban designer with sustainable leanings. Weekends spent on storm water management projects. We dug and shifted and played in the woods and felt almost hot. Glorious.

As long as it doesn't get too hot. That's why we live in Vermont after all.

April 19, 2013

walking through spring

Today it will be 72 degrees. I'm going to ignore the fact that we are still in for some below freezing evenings in the upcoming days and just focus on that gloriously warm number on the forecast for today. The kids went off to school is shorts and skirts and NO TIGHTS and sandals and I realized that I have needed to wear all three of these pairs of shoes this week. Snow, rain and sun. All together in a span of a few days. I suppose that's spring, though. Changeable. But still, I put the snowboots in the basement and I hope they stay there till next fall. I'll be ready to put them on again by then but for now....I'm ready for the sun.
Have a lovely, WARM weekend!

April 17, 2013

better late than never

This sweater is from two winters ago, knit up here and there after bedtime in order to surprise her when it was done by Christmas. The previous sweater I'd planned for her hadn't gotten finished in time so I was determined to finish this one. And I did. And she didn't like it.

It was far too big. The pattern had been translated from french and I think the sizing was wrong. The sweater I knit was meant to be a 4 T but even now, at six, it's still a little big. But what she didn't like, I later realized, was that it didn't close. I had thought she'd like a sweater that had one quick button at the top and could hang loose when she played. When I made her sweater this winter I made sure to let her pick out the pattern and she was very clear that she didn't want one that was "open".

This weekend I fished the sweater out of one of my yarn baskets and realized that it was at last (close) to the right size. But it was still open. Still not right.

I have a dread of zippers. I hate putting them into sewing and I've only done one other sweater - Will's - that had one, and that was only marginally successful. But it seemed worth a try. So off to the fabric store we went, in search of a separating zipper that was the right color and length (not that easy, the one we found was really too small, but the next up was too long, ah well) and in it went.

And wouldn't you know it, she loves it now. Only a year and a half late, but still. It's not perfect, but for a sweater that wasn't meant to have a zipper I think it turned out alright. And perfectly pink, just right for my pink and flower and layered skirt loving girl.

April 15, 2013

sun on wood

Have I mentioned how wonderful it is to have floors? Well if I haven't, it is. Wonderful. And much softer on the feet. Everyone seems to agree. It's all done now other than a teeny little troublesome narrow piece at the back of Will's closet which will get done, well, maybe never, but you can't really see it anyway. Ahhhh.

And now... I think it's time to paint the stairs.

April 12, 2013

maple syrup one, two, three

I can't get over the difference in color. A little lurking on a sugaring discussion board (oh yes, there is one, more than one actually!) shows that the very dark syrup is common this year, that a lot of people with a lot more experience and a whole lot more trees than our little project are getting dark dark syrup as well. Will thinks the last, which is the darkest, is the best. I can't decide, I think they are all equally good, but all slightly different tasting. The darkest is definitely the sweetest. I think we may get one more boil out of our trees. We thought it was going to get too warm but since it is currently below freezing and sleeting to boot today, well, I think another round might be possible. I hope so. Because even though it takes ages and is kind of a pain, it's so fun to see those jars full of our own syrup on the shelf. And it's going fast. In fact, I think we'll have pancakes for dinner tonight!

April 11, 2013

the kitchen now

The kitchen is...not done. But it's made some serious progress since we moved in almost 9 months ago, when it looked like this.

There are still so many things to do. New counter top on one side, new drawer and cabinet fronts (or painting the existing ones), a new sink and appliances (oh please, please manky refrigerator, last until we can replace you!) But of course, it can't come all at once. Set aside the cost issues and the fact that we have a long list of other, more pressing projects to do around the house and we still have the little thing of needing to cook two or three meals a day for two hungry kids to work around. But slowly and surly, a little bit by a little bit, it's getting there. This weekend it was new lights, last week we started replacing the handles and pulls, a few weeks ago it was tile (still to be completed once we find the perfect pencil tile trim for the corners). It's coming. And it's so much nicer, half finished though it is. The walls are brighter. The lights are brighter! The open shelves are easier to use than the shallower cupboard. The pantry is full of mouse proof jars. It's spiffed up and a little more modern without being hard and cold, at least it seems that way to us. But mostly it just feels better. Feels more us.

April 10, 2013

spring dash

We are a little bit overrun with sap at the moment. I collected it throughout the week last week for a weekend boil which got pushed to Monday. And by that time the buckets were overflowing again on the trees. The sap that I had from earlier in the week came out of the trees dark and boiled down to an almost molasses brown maple syrup. Today I'm boiling again, this time the sap is clear again so I'll be curious to see what we end up with. Delicious whatever the color though. I love the smell of the house when the syrup is finishing off, intensely mapley and sweet.

It is officially spring here. The beech trees are starting to bud out and the days are alternatly sunny and drizzly. April showers, which I hope will bring May flowers. Although we don't really ahve many flowers planted here yet. The snow receeds more and more each day, which is good for the garden but unfortunate if you are ten and like to spend yoru afternoon hours pretending that your backyard is the Hoth Rebel base. He's going to have to switch from TonTons to Ewoks (we are heavily into Star Wars at the moment).

Although it seems like it's been forever in coming, it also seems to have turned to spring overnight. The woodstove hasn't been lit in days, the kids try to sneak out the door in shorts and short sleeves. When the sun is out it's a bright yellow, not the white light of winter and the sky is blue blue. I remember being kind of fascinated by the blue of the spring sky when we came to visit before moving here. So blue. So clear.

April 5, 2013

sun to snow to sun again

We've had a little bit of everything, weather-wise this week. It snowed, it hailed, it rained, but then again it was sunny and warm too. I spent most of yesterday trying to sleep off a sore throat and pounding sinus headache and watching documentaries on how they found Richard the Third in a car park in England (very interesting), bundled under blankets with cups of tea. When I pried myself off the couch to go pick up the kids, low and behold the sun was shining. And it was, almost, warm out. Warm enough, at least, to sit outside the general store in the village, eating an after-school pretzel and working on homework next to the brook that was, for the first time in what seems like ages, actually running. There were two older ladies sitting on the next bench eating ice cream sandwiches. We drove with the windows down on the car and I think the fresh air cleared my sinuses more than any sleeping or decongestants did. Ah sun. It's still muddy and grey out, but when the sun is shining, I care less about that. When the sun is shining, spring seems almost within reach.

April 3, 2013


I think this is the first week since we moved to Vermont where I've looked out and not admired the landscape around me. This week, unlike the nearly year of weeks before, it is not particularly beautiful. We started with a thaw and mud and perpetually having streaks of dirt on the back of our pant where our legs hit the edge of the (very dirty) car while climbing in and out and now are in the midst of another cold snap. The sap is frozen in the buckets. The mud has turned to icy ruts. The kids are back in snowsuits. The wind whips the trees around and stings out cheeks when we go outside for another armload of logs from the dwindling pile.

I was listening to a local poet on the radio yesterday talking about April being a month of hope. But not hope in the "spring is here" kind of way. More of a hope that spring will eventually be here. Of patience that if we wait a little while longer, there will be flowers and buds on the trees and warm days. I know it will come. We were here for it last year. Gloriously balmy days, hydrangias blooming all over town, kids leaping wildly off the big rock and plunging into the river. It will come. I keep telling myself it will come.

And then I put another log on the fire. Because it's not here yet. Burrrr....

April 1, 2013

floors (at last!)

After seven months (seven months!) of plywood floors (and one with nasty smelly carpet) covering most of the house, we are finally finally finally walking on lovely smooth new floors. At least upstairs. In the den. Because the bedrooms aren't done yet.

But still!


Downstairs we're still rocking the painted and sanded plywood. Which is fine. We've got all sorts of decisions to make (new woodstove or old, new wall heater or radiant flooring, what kind of hearth, what size of hearth....my head spins just thinking about it) before we can pick out and install flooring downstairs. Plus the sanding and painting of the downstairs plywood made it relatively smooth and presentable. But the upstairs plywood, blarg.

Halfway through installing it we looked around and realized that it's so shiny and smooth and new that it almost looks...fake. Or maybe it's just that in all the places and houses and lived in we've never had new flooring. Ever. Ever, ever. We've refinished old floors and lived with truly decrepit ones and even had nicely kept up old floors, but never had new ones. And it's really, really nice.

We've still got two more rooms to do and then the stairs before we're finished but I keep finding myself wanting to hangout up there in the den so I can just smile at them. Ahhh. One project (almost) down. Only...um... right, too many to count really, to go. Small victories though. Yes?