Across Three States to Portland, Maine

Sunday, January 22: After a delicious breakfast of sourdough waffles (Brother-in-law makes sourdough pancakes or waffles nearly every Sunday) I left Jericho, on the western side of Vermont, and headed over to Portland, on the eastern coast of Maine.

The roads were clear (glad I didn’t wait for today, and the dump of snow that has even the Maine State offices closed!), but the overcast skies did not make for great photo opportunities. Across Vermont the secondary highways often parallel streams and small rivers; the icy waters dodged around river rocks with mounds of snow on them, both there and in New Hampshire. With poor conditions for photography, and no easy place to pull off, I didn’t take photos. On into New Hampshire, much of the middle of which is

The White Mountains are living up to their name – there were a few snow showers, and the wind had blown a lot of the previous snow out of the trees, but there was plenty of white around! I drove past Loon Mountain Ski Area at about noon; day passes were sold out, and the parking lots were full – at least they had a sign out by the road, so you didn’t drive in and be disappointed! The road crews in the national forest have done a wonderful job clearing not only roads, but also many parking lots and viewpoints. And they were well used! There were many hikers and people snowshoeing, and lots of people like me, just stopping for photos of the views. Not that one could see the higher peaks – the low clouds meant that places like Mount Washington and the rest of the Presidentials were hidden.

Hancock overlook, looking toward Mt. Osceola behind those clouds

View looking north from Sugar Hill Scenic Vista

And on a car window in one parking lot:

Red

I had traveled up to northern Vermont to visit my sister – and attend her first orchestral concert! Having taken  up cello after retirement, I am in awe of someone willing to put those new skills out in public like that! She is now playing with the Me2/ orchestra, “Classical music for mental health.” This group is designed for acceptance of differences, especially supportive for people with mental health issues, and also allies. We all, of course, sometimes have “issues” – but to have a group where the support is there to acknowledge those issues, and the level of diversity that brings, is a breath of fresh air. Held in the auditorium of the Burlington City Hall, the program was “A Viennese New Year” with pieces by three of the Strauss family – energetic, upbeat, cheerful – and probably the concert I’ve enjoyed the most in recent memory. 

The above photo was taken as we walked to the car after the performance; I guess it makes the building stand out? I’m glad I don’t have those red lights glowing through my bedroom window!

My wonderful brother-in-law likes taking photos of the many birds that visit their feeders. This one was on the other side of the house, surrounded and sheltered by the snowy hydrangea bush.

Celebrating the New Year

Visiting my sister and  spouse in northern Vermont, the neighbors traditionally have a bonfire New Years Eve. It was quite warm, and the neighbors showed up from all around (but here, you can’t see any of their houses from any other!), and we watched it burn most of the way down before going in for food and drink. There was a killer chocolate cake – dense and rich enough that I had trouble falling asleep! Or maybe that was from the long nap I took in the afternoon…

One of our favorite Christmas decorations is this elf, perched on one of the braces on the framing:

Today was a busy day. After sourdough waffles for breakfast, we went into town to worship with the Quakers in Burlington, then went to lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant for banh mi sandwiches (excellent, and great value for money), went to a concert of Beethoven’s 9th, in which my brother-in-law was singing (he had to be there early, so I got quite a few rows of knitting done), and where we were joined by lots of friends, and then to the house of one of the friends for dinner, with intelligent conversation flying in all directions, drove another friend home, and finally returned to the house.

Mural outside the Vietnamese restaurant:

What I Did in 2022

I traveled, although not as much as previous years – no trip to Florida, New Mexico, Texas, Canada – but much through New England (the above photo Portland, Maine), and down the eastern seaboard to Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina. I usually travel with at least one kayak; I paddled in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont (of course; I live here!), Connecticut, New York State, Maryland, and South Carolina, usually twice a week or so through the season. The most open water was on a bay on the coast of Maine; most of the rest was rivers and lakes and ponds, and the northern reaches of the Chesapeake Bay. There were a few outings to pull invasive water chestnut in New Hampshire and Connecticut, and I helped out with the Great Northern Canoe Trail Peddle/Paddle event on the Missisquoi River.

And of course, there is knitting, always – scarf and shawl:

Sweaters for cousins, and one dog:

Fingerless mitts and mittens:

Hats – one for me, the rest gifts or donations; three adult, two for children:

A couple of pairs of socks, these for me:

Two sets of Christmas stockings:

And a couple of toys:

I have requests to start off my knitting for this new year – there are a couple of outstanding Christmas gifts to granddaughters (a pair of socks, and a large bee to go with the little one), another monster for an infant to be born in March (and baby booties and socks, but they are so small they hardly count!), another cousin sweater – and then maybe I’ll get to one of the three sweaters for me for which I have yarn set aside. 

It’s less than an hour until the new year turns over here. Wishing you all safe, healthy, rewarding and productive lives in 2023!

Christmas in Northern Vermont

The house here has very frilly flowers – the cyclamen above is in the middle of the dining table. And on the kitchen island is this amaryllis:

With several layers of petals, and two stalks of flower heads, it is the most exuberant I’ve ever seen! I added the bee; my youngest granddaughter requested a knitted bee for Christmas. I’ll make her another, larger one, but this one is very cute – and provided all the biologists here with a pollinator for their plants. And, being so tiny, it was a very quick knit. The black was from my aunt’s stash, and the yellow and white from mine. I slightly modified the pattern from http://www.chemknits.com/2009/11/bzzzzzzz-knit-bumble-bee.html

However you celebrate this season of the year, and the turning of the calendar to the new one, I hope you and yours are healthy, safe, warm and fed.

Best-laid Plans, and All That

Today was the first birthday party for my great-grandson. My plan was to drive to Connecticut to be in time for the celebration at noon, with Christmas stockings for the family, and a hat for him. But Friday it spent the day dropping piles of heavy wet snow (glad I got that leaning tree down first!), and it was still falling when I awoke. It was hard, under the circumstances, to haul myself out of my nice warm bed, but I did, and packed clothes and food and knitting for several days in Connecticut, and went out to load the car.

OK, so I have to shovel first, but if I can get it moving downhill, it will probably do it. So I shoveled, and loaded, by that time knowing I wouldn’t make it for the start of the party. About one third of the way down the driveway, there was another problem:

When I was younger, I would have just wrestled it to the side – but now that I’m older, my arthritic joints took exception to trying to lift that long tree, mired in snow. The neighbor below was out clearing off her car; I texted down asking if someone could bring up their little chain saw – then, getting no response, shouted down for her to check her phone! In a few minutes she was trudging up the hill, chainsaw in hand, and cut it into small enough lengths to pull out of the way, and I proceeded on down the hill. I gave up on attending the party, arranging to see that family tomorrow.

With a stop in Brattleboro for a brief visit with a couple of the Knitting Goddesses, it was on south, so now I’m in Connecticut for several days of visiting family and friends, and knitting play dates.

Feline Knitting Help

Smudge decided I could knit better with a warmer lap, and settled in to help me knit the last of this set of three Christmas stockings.

And here they are, completed except for embroidering on the names; another knitting project took precedence as it’s for a birthday party tomorrow! If I am able to get out my driveway and through the snow to drive to Connecticut, that is – I’m not counting on it. The stockings are for the oldest granddaughter; the birthday gift for her one year old son, so I’ll be handing off a pile of knitting.

For the stockings, I used every bit of the oatmeal colored yarn left over from the sweater I knit for this granddaughter a few years ago, and all of the yarn left over from knitting the last green cousin sweater – I even BOUGHT YARN!! Gasp. I didn’t have anything in stash that was close to the color of the softer green. I also used a ball of a mohair/acrylic blend (the blue-green), and oatmeal I had left from a sweater of mine, and a random donated ball of a darker oatmealy color. I should weigh the stockings and see how much yarn I eliminated from stash – but not tonight! And now I have a request from a neighbor for a hat using those colors and trees; I can do that, but not until after I finish Christmas knitting and the sweater for the next cousin! And maybe a hat for me; I need a warm hat that is a little larger than the one I’ve been wearing. Either I knit it too tight, or my head has swelled… But I blather on, and should get to bed!

Tree Removal

This tree was leaning further and further over the driveway, and I had to scrape through it every time I drove in or out with car or camper. With snow on the way, it was clear to me that a good ice storm or heavy snow could easily drop it across the road. Yellow birch is not known for its strength! Being proactive seemed prudent – the neighbors came up to take care of the problem.

Once split and dried, this will provide good wood for another winter. And I’m very glad the tree is no longer there, with lots of heavy wet snow predicted for the next two days!