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Hoopsters March 28, 2012

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Bracing against the cold rain on my walk to the PO, I recall that a week ago it was so warm that Wednesday hooping migrated to the goat farm, where we hooped in the shadow of the smithy, shading ourselves from the hot sun.

Photo by Gray.

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The Birds and the Bear March 27, 2012

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On Friday, at the time that Tim should have been leaving for work, he came back in the house and called to me, Come take a look at this.

Our bird feeders were on the ground, the pole on which they once hung ripped from the ground and bent in a way that would be difficult for your average-strengthed human to manage. The suet cake cage was in our neighbor’s yard—it was the only feeder that had had actual food in it the night before.

It sure looked like the work of a bear, but we’re in the village. This happened right beneath my bedroom window. I should have heard it, and might have heard it if I hadn’t had a humidifier running.

I asked on Facebook if anyone else had seen a bear in downtown Parts West, but no one had.

Until the next morning, when two neighbors across the street found sign: one’s tree, which held bird feeders, lost a branch; the other’s feeders were aggressively brought down.

I haven’t heard any bear reports since.

We figure it had something to do with the freakishly warm weather we’ve been having, which has now disappeared into a 40- and 50-degrees-ago memory.

Meanwhile, my bird buddies—the goldfinches and chickadees particularly—are no doubt disappointed in me. I had fallen down on my feeding duties a few days prebear; it’s been more than a week since I’ve given them anything. I don’t want to put feeders back up immediately, because I don’t want to encourage the bear. Plus, I no longer have a pole from which to hang feeders. But it’s freakin’ cold. Poor birds.

Tim thinks we should put the feeders out during the day and bring them in at night. I seriously wonder if we would be disciplined enough to do this.

Today I went to the bird store in search of new feeder pole. Closed on Tuesdays.

Driving home . . . March 23, 2012

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. . . on these weirdly warm spring nights, I roll past the ponds, roll down the windows, let the calls of frenzied frogs fill my ears.

. . . But Not for Helen March 21, 2012

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The cheesemakers down Route 153 purchased the old Fish and Game Club building in downtown Parts West and are busy with slow renovations. The community has begun to use the downstairs room. On Wednesdays, several of us hula hoop there.

On Fridays, in the late afternoon/early evening, there’s a local market—not exactly a farmer’s market, as no fresh produce is available. There are a few vendors with prepared takeout foods (dinner!), a couple of cheesemakers, a pickler (oh, her pickled eggs!), a purveyor of grass-fed meats, a jeweler.

Last week I bought a cupcake from Hadley. It’s syrup season (I bought a half gallon from her the week before), and this cupcake was filled with maple cream and topped with—wait for it—strips of maple-candied bacon. It was like a pancake-breakfast party in your mouth. Rhonda posted this shot of the delicacy soon after:

Amazing. It’s good that Tim and I split one.

It’s the Shoes, Part 4 March 19, 2012

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Tim turned fifty a few months before I did. Sometimes he’s easy to shop for, because he often has his eye on something. For his fiftieth, he decided he wanted a longboard (a skateboard), but his birthday wasn’t until December, and he wanted to ride over the summer. So, months early, we picked up a little something from Landyachtz.

Of course, after riding that board, he decided he wanted another one (two very different styles), so he got a second on his real birthday. That one he had to wait for.

Unfortunately for Tim, I am not so easy to shop for. As you may have guessed from my last post, I’m never in a hurry to replace things, and I don’t spend too much time desperately wishing for particular material things. Certainly I went through that stage back in the days when we were trying to set up a household, but now I don’t need much. In fact, I should be getting rid of things at this point.

Tim got it in his head that I should have a mountain bike for the rail trail. It’s not a bad idea. My hybrid has knobby but skinny tires, and wider tires won’t fit, unfortunately. But I love my (20-year-old?) bike, and there’s nothing really wrong with it, and I’ve done fine with it on the rail trail all these years (at least before Tropical Storm Irene), even though it’s a little slow on those skinnies. I 86ed the mountain bike idea for now.

When he asked what I wanted, then, I said, half-jokingly, “A diamond ring or a pair of Le Chameau.”

I’ve wanted a pair of wellies for awhile. I don’t need them. I have perfectly serviceable boots to muck around in (again, likely at least a dozen years old): Gore-tex–lined gaiter-topped L.L.Beans. They’re great. Really.

I’m not a gardener. I’m not a hunter. I do not regularly wander the moors, nor do I shoot birds or sporting clays. Still, I found that I desired the Chasseur style of the Le Chameau boot in all its alleged leather-lined loveliness. And Tim could acquire a pair half off retail—which is still double what I’d actually want to spend on wellies. (But check out the company’s video on the making of the boots. Is it the process that makes the boots so expensive? [Yes. Of course.] Or does all that money coming in make short films like this possible? [Yes. Of course.])

So that is how, a week ago, I got a pair of boots I don’t need. They are a teensy bit big, but I’ll figure that one out soon. I think I love them and might love them even if camels weren’t involved.

It’s the Shoes, Part 3 March 13, 2012

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One great thing about working in a home office in the Vermont wilds is that one really doesn’t need much of a wardrobe or a lot of shoes. I wear my many-years-old Dansko clogs around the house October through April and switch ’em out for boots when I have to have to go outside—usually boots that are as old or older than the clogs. I wear Asics in the gym. And that’s about it for half a year.

But last fall, I suddenly needed a lot of footwear at once. I was hiking with my beloved in Yosemite, when he pointed out that I had a gaping hole in the heel of my hiking boot—a boot I’d had since 1997 and hadn’t considered replacing. I hadn’t noticed this gaping hole or the one that was apparently developing the same spot on the other boot. OK, I admitted. It’s time.

It was also time to replace my comfortable-and-will-keep-my-feet-dry-but-still-stylish-enough-for-the-city boots, which I’d already resoled twice, then taken to at least two cobblers in an attempt to stop the leaks. I lined the inside of one with duct tape, which helped, but it wasn’t a perfect solution.

And I needed a new pair of black pumps. The pair in my closet were purchased when I lived in DC. I left there in 1995. They are still nice enough, but I wanted to update a bit, and there was a board of trustees dinner on the horizon.

Oh, and my gym shoes. I bought those Asics for a Thanksgiving Day 5k walk/run we’d planned with family and then never got them to rally for. So I wore them at the gym, and pretty much only the gym. I do almost no high-impact exercise, so I ignored that suggestion to replace shoes every six to twelve months. In fact, I ignored it for six years.

Do you detect a theme here? “How long do you expect to drive this car?” the salesman asks me. At least ten years! Anything that costs more than $100 should last me ten years!

So I began shoe shopping. My highest motivation was for the city-acceptable boots, because I needed to keep my feet dry, and I began to look around, but I wasn’t finding anything. It was October, and I was encouraged to check back in a month. Meanwhile, I passively looked at other shoes. I saw an adorable pair of black pumps. Those heels must have been at least 4 inches high. They haunted me, so the next week I went back to try them on.

Sadly, the pain was instantaneous. There wouldn’t be even a twenty-minute grace period at a cocktail party.

The saleswoman steered me instead toward two pair of lovely 2½-inchers that were reputedly cut to be relatively comfortable. And relative to the pair of pumps I had to abandon, they were. They felt pretty good in the store, as stiff, formal shoes go. I couldn’t decide if I preferred the patent-leather crocodile-print pointy-toed pump or the matte-suede round-toed pump with the shiny heel, so I got both.

And then the same saleswoman sold me a new pair of Asics, which were so bright out of the box, it was almost an embarrassment to wear them at the gym.

That same day, I headed to the outdoorsy establishments in search of a new pair of hiking boots and ended up purchasing hiking shoes instead (being that I’m really not a backpacker and don’t need the ankle support), plus the insoles that the salesman insisted were essential, plus the fab Darn Tough hiking socks that he pulled off the shelf so that I could try the shoes on properly.

I spent a lot of money that day. And I still didn’t have my city-acceptable boots, the most needed footwear of all.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t call either pair of the black pumps comfortable. They felt a lot better in the store. Lately I’ve tried to remember to sometimes wear them during my work day to break them in a bit so they won’t torture me when I have to wear them. (Remember real offices? Remember when I had to wear shoes like that every day?)

It wasn’t until I got to Portland in November and tried on a bunch of boots that I found the pair I wanted, but then not in the right color, so I ordered them in black. They were waiting for me upon my arrival home, but the zipper on the left one had a tooth that was a bit off. I called, because it made me nervous, and they assured me of a year’s guarantee. So I’m wearing the boots and hoping for the best, as one year is not ten years. And now I love them. And the zipper is holding.

Still, I haven’t tossed my old leaky pair. They are so easy to get in and out of (no zipper!), and when it isn’t raining, who cares? They do look a bit sad next to the new ones, though.

Yesterday I got boots I don’t need. But that’s another story.

Life in Parts West March 12, 2012

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Lately it’s been about dance parties and baby goats. My neighbor/BFF Gigi has been in the thick of it, and she appears in both these YouTube videos, which I steal now for your viewing pleasure.

Some of these goats will go on to help produce some of the best cheese in the U.S. of A.

And this is what happens at my house when Trombone Shorty hits the stereo.