This is the season for church suppers…

There are church suppers everywhere… the most popular are chicken and biscuit suppers, but once in a while you will read about a ham dinner or even a game dinner. We’ve been to several in the past month and they are wonderful! A lot of the churches have been putting these suppers on for generations. They have become so popular that reservations are now required. Sometimes there are three “seatings” with take-out available. If you don’t have reservations, you need to get there early. They are usually served family style with refills all the time. We’ve been to a few with friends and it is a great way to see the foliage, visit with friends and catch up on the local gossip.

The season for ice cream socials is over, but they are good and lots of fun, too. Often there is music to go with the event which is a nice added feature. Another thing that is happening in recent years are the monthly community suppers that are usually held in local churches and put on by the members of the local church. They are usually free, with a donation basket at the door. You could go to these almost every night of the week if you don’t want to cook. After years of cooking or trying to think of what to cook, the thought of going to these suppers is getting more appealing to me every month. The local church has been hosting these suppers once a month for a number of years now and we rarely miss one. There is a group of us that get together at this supper and you get to visit with people who live in town that you might not see otherwise. Every month there is a different menu and you never know what is being served, until it is posted on the FPF or the Clark’s Truck Center notice board in Jericho, where local events can be posted for free and it is seen by all who travel Route 15.

The Knights of Columbus put on breakfast once a month at a local church that are wonderful. It is another meal where there is a donation basket and the proceeds go to a good cause, whether it is local or not. This is another one we rarely miss, with the same people going, and we usually fill up a whole table…people who we might see only at these breakfasts. You can refill your plate as much as you like, although usually the first pass-through is all that you can eat. Although there might be seconds for bacon. Twice a year, the K of C puts on dinners instead that are delicious. Here, again, they are so popular that reservations are suggested. This also is the season for beer fests and they seem to be happening all the time now. With so many small local breweries and people making their own beer, they are all the rage. The one that takes place in Underhill has lots of food, music, cider making, children’s craft tables and has become a local family event. Rain or shine! Everyone out enjoying themselves before cold weather and darkness settles in and forces us indoors. You should get out the old car and go to one of these. You won’t regret it.

Walk a Mile in My Shoes / Everyone has a Story

Having worked in medicine for 50 years, I have had many opportunities to listen to patient’s stories concerning their health, family, friends, the town, the State and the Federal government. Some have a lot of incite and some not so much, but we listen and many times I am so taken back by what I am hearing. Some of the stories are just horror stories, others are sweet, loving things that have happened to them, but later you realize that for the most part almost every story helped form this person. I must say that some-times you say to yourself, ‘how did they get this far?’. Where I am trying to head is to not form a judgement on a person from how they act or talk or what you hear about them. We have no idea that the lady who cut in line with not a glance or apology, has just got-ten a report of a serious health problem or the rude person who cuts you off and steals your parking space has just been laid off from their job. There are a million reasons why people do or say what they do, rough day, rough morning, bad report card, forgot your wallet, left late, break down and on and on and on.

I have been talking about the negative but you do run into some positive people. The negative occasions you remember, and these are where I would like you to give them a break. I was reminded of this when a group got together recently and while passing through a certain village, remembered the time they were having lunch and this “mad woman” came in the establishment ‘spitting fire’, obviously something they had never seen before or since. I would gather they would not want to see this again! I would have loved to have been there, to hear all the reasons they could give, why this poor distressed woman finally seemed to be on the edge or maybe a little over.

She had lived this event for weeks, made meals, and chased grandchildren and was left behind because someone else was late and she had to ‘fix it’ and then catch up in an area she wasn’t familiar with and maybe, just maybe she had the wrong instructions, but don’t think she hasn’t thought a million times if ‘he’ said it, she must be wrong. So, if you were there, cut her a break and forget it. Remember the other times when she is the only woman to show up and smiles and acts like she is enjoying herself. If you weren’t there, let that little lady cut in front and just smile and realize she probably must get that milk home to her loving children. Of course I am also open to the fact, the little lady can spot a sucker when she sees one!

In closing
, if I were that ‘witchy’ woman which I want you to know for sure that I’m not or wasn’t, of course I wasn’t even there, was I? If I was, you’d remember, wouldn’t you? Oh! Just walk a mile in my shoes!!

Cats in the Woodpile

If you are reading this and are not a “cat person” do not bother to continue. But, if you tolerate them and even love them, read on.

For several months this winter I was feeding two feral cats, one female and one male. The male decided that inside the house would be better than outside, so we took him off to the vet for a checkup and sex “adjustment”. Henry became our second inside cat. He and our first cat were not exactly copacetic, but adjusted, mostly.

In the middle of May we went to Colorado for our grandson`s high school graduation and then for a visit to the Grand Canyon with our daughter. When we returned home, we discovered that the female cat had delivered five kittens, all of whom were living in our wood shed in and among the stacked furnace wood. Of course they were all cute – three calico, one gray, and one black. Who was the Dad??? No idea at all. In the last week of June, our daughter, grandson and his girlfriend came for their annual visit, to be in the Milton July fourth parade and to ride in a classic car. Meanwhile, it was becoming ap-parent that we could not keep all of these kittens and Mommy Cat. How do you get five kittens that you can’t even catch, into adoptive homes? Our daughter-in-law demonstrated the wonders of social media to us by putting their pictures on Face Book. The word was out to the world that we had these amazing possible pets to give away. About this time, our grandson and his friend had to return to Colorado, then our daughter’s significant other arrived with his two children and we all tried to catch the kittens as we now had people clamoring for them. We managed to catch three with only a little patience, deception and speed, and handed them over to some very happy people. One lady even decided she wanted two. Next we needed to catch the last two and Mommy cat. Finally after much effort, we caught the last two kittens. Who would have thought that a cute little kitten could be so vicious? Wendell’s hand is healing and nobody has shown symptoms of cat scratch fever yet. A lady wanted the little terror so badly, she drove three hours from New Hampshire to get it.

Now we “just” had to catch the mother, so we put out a Have-a-Heart trap, put food in it and hoped for the best. The first night we caught a raccoon which our daughter insisted we release. The second night we caught the same raccoon again. Wendell says it died of cardiac arrest, all very sudden and unexpected. The third night we caught a very large Tom cat that we have never seen before. He was the wildest thing I have ever seen, bounced off the garage walls and made a break for it. That might solve the mystery of who the father is. At one point, I thought I had trapped the mother in our garage, but she managed to slide under the garage door and get away again. We are still trying. So, our saga is not over – we still need to catch Mommy cat and take her to the Humane Society – may have her spayed first, but it may be too late. Ah, CATS!!!!! I’ve gotta lov’em!!

Special Days

By the time this goes to print, Mother’s Day will have passed and Memorial Day and Father’s Day will be on the horizon. Let me say, before I really get going, that I probably have written about the subject before and hopefully you are a bit like me and can’t remember and to those who can, just use it as a reminder, if you remember and have followed my past suggestions, a giant kudos to you!

I have wondered for years why we make such a big deal about what I consider very important certain subjects one day a year. Take Mother’s Day, which has just passed, many people took some time and took Mom out to eat, gave her candy, flowers, jewelry, cards and I’m sure the list would include a huge assortment of things, some of which would have been more appreciated on – well, let’s say a Wednesday. Those things are vacuums, brooms, new dust cloths, ice scraper or maybe a gift certificate to the car wash. Nothing says I love and appreciate you like a gift certificate to the local car wash! Don’t get me wrong, remember I am writing from my prospective and I realize there are women out there that tools would be at the top of their list, I’m just not one of them. Another thing about these days, like Mother’s Day, that I think of is why are those mothers running around and waiting on me. It does create some guilt in me, even though I have worked in a profession which required working on holidays and I certainly didn’t want any (well I won’t say any) one to feel guilty, I was away from my family and hopefully helping them out.

This can apply to all our “special days” such as Father’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Veterans Day, Easter, Christmas, Labor Day, and President’s Day (combo of Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, for those of you who didn’t know or have forgotten). Some of these days have become just another day off from work with no mail and no banking and no thought to why it is a special day. And of course, some always fall on a Sunday. When I was in grade school (yes, many moons ago) onMemorial Day we marched to the cemetery, sang songs like America, Battle Hyman of the Republic and read a list of veteran’s names ending in a 6th grader (who had been chosen with great honor) to recite the Gettysburg Address. Yes, I said recited from memory. There wasn’t a child in that school that didn’t want that privilege and honor. I am not saying not to have any of these ‘special days’ but I bet mothers, fathers, veterans, workers would really appreciate a little more recognition, hand shake or a smile and a kind word all throughout the year and not just on ‘their day’. And let’s not forget those who don’t get a day, kind and helpful neighbors, door openers, people who let you go first, those who are there if you fall, those who give when something bad or sad happens to you, those who give you a hug when it is most needed, people who push your car when it is stuck or stops running and I remember once trying to fit a dresser into a way too small car (at the entrance of University Mall) where there was an abundance of onlookers) the Salvation Army bell ringer stashed her buck-et in the front seat and spent time and a lot of muscle trying to thread this needle – to no avail, then, a woman from a Fence Company in Orleans, ran back to her truck and produced enough rope to tie the dresser to the trunk, success – looks great in my house!

I guess what I am saying that once a year isn’t enough. Make a pledge to try and do something no matter how small each day. A kind word goes a long way and I bet if you get in the habit of doing this that if by chance a special day gets here and gone without you – you will be forgiven!

Memories from Mary

1939 chevrolet pickupMost folks may not realize it but that is a picture of me (a loooong time ago) in the 2017 Shelburne Show flyer, in front of my Dad’s 1939 Chevrolet, which made me think of some of his other vehicles.

He plowed our dirt road with an old Army truck (also pictured in the flyer) and usually had me and our current dog with him. He had a Dodge coupe, a couple of sedans (Chevrolets, of course), and a Willys pickup truck, which he drove over, around, and through everything.

Dad liked to accumulate vintage cars, not to restore or show, but to drive for fun. He had a ’35 Packard limousine which was given to him in lieu of rent by a neer-do-well hippy type kid from down country. He discovered a ’28 “barn find” Dodge Brothers coupe that was a real “cream puff”, from a lady who could no longer drive. We now have that ’28 Dodge. When we brought it home to Vermont (from New Hampshire), we discovered all of the old registration paperwork in the trunk, indicating it had been registered in my name all that time, but I have never driven it. As I may have pointed out before, driving an old car as a teenager in the 1950`s, no way!

Our son now has the Packard in his garage and hopes to find time to work on it at some point. With his job and raising a family, it won’t happen right away. Wendell’s Dad wasn’t particularly mechanically minded, but he was impressed by the tandem bicycle Wendell and his friend constructed – and rode. Wendell’s Mom also had a Model T she drove in the teens and ’20s.

barn cat
This is a picture of the “practice”, not on Mary’s family farm.

And now back to my Dad – he had to milk our cows by late afternoon, by hand, offering squirts of milk to the barn cats. The milk was put into milk cans to be picked up the next day, including the morning milk. And now up to the present. All of the above (except for the cow milking) explains our interest in old cars. Currently, a 1948 Indian motorcycle is being worked on by Wendell in our garage. We’ll see where that goes!

Spring is supposed to be here, but until only recently it has felt like it. The snow we never shoveled has melted so we can see the leaves we never raked. I found one crocus in bloom and the daffodils are coming up, so there is hope. This is Vermont, however, so any kind of weather could happen! And probably will!!!

Get a Bigger Hammer

A few days ago, I was rummaging about in the cellar, looking for something, and I came across my X-C skis. They are the old wooden kind that you had to wax every time you used them depending on the weather and conditions. I also found my bamboo ski poles that I had used occasionally, when the ice replaced the snow in the yard. Then, there were my old shoes that I could never fit into now!

Over the next few weeks I started to think about all the X-C skiing that I once did. Mostly here in town, with friends, the kids or the dogs, on ski trails or bush-whacking here on our property (before the era of cell phones, horrors!) I recall one specific winter when we had purchased an old VW bug from a neighbor. It was orange and beat up enough so that a few more dents or scratches didn’t make any difference. A good car for us! For a number of years a friend and I ran a Bill Koch ski club here in town for kids and we would meet every Saturday at the local school. From there we would ski all over, on ski trails that were in existence everywhere then. Somehow, we managed to fit three to four people in the VW along with our ski equipment. No big deal! One particular Saturday, Gael was getting ready to drive to Florida to visit his brother and the kids and I were getting ready to go to the Bill Koch Club to go skiing. Gael’s parting comment went something like this… “If the car won’t start, crawl under the car and hit the starter with a hammer”. No problem. It sounded easy enough. Gael leaves and we get into the VW. It won’t start. So I crawled under the car and looked for the starter. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, so I called a neighbor who came over and we proceeded to crawl under the car together with a hammer. He showed me where the starter was, hit it and I crawled out, got into the car and it started. Whew! I thanked him and we drove off to our skiing afternoon.

For the next few weeks, I carried a blanket and a hammer in the car and had to use it quite a few times, but it always worked. I also dis-covered that, with a push from someone or something, I could usually jump start the car that way. Another reason for having kids! If I had to venture out of town to the grocery store, I usually took our son and quite often a friend of his with me, just in case! I would park in the grocery store parking lot in such a way that, with a push from the two boys, the car would start. It usually meant that the boys would have to go into the store with me, but we separated when inside, me to get the groceries and them to do something to kill time. One time I happened to see rolls of toilet paper being tossed over isles and I know they had found something to amuse themselves. I don’t remember what happened to that car or what replaced it. It might have been another VW bug with the driver’s seat on a piece of plywood or a Saab that came from Joe Kaelin. Both of these cars have unique stories to go with them. I’ll save those for another time.

To the editor…..

I don’t know if you take reader’s responses to articles, but Nancy’s article brought back vivid memories of sliding down the “Mary Fletcher Hospital” hill in Burlington. We used to go down to Sears on Church St. and get cardboard washing machine boxes, pile in 2 or 3 of us and blindly bomb down the steepest part of the hill, trying to see if we could make it all the way to Colchester Ave. and possibly get run over. Ah, the good olé days of being put out with the dog and told “don’t come back till dinner time!”

Bill Fagan

Nostalgia

Probably because I just celebrated (I use that word loosely) my 69th birthday, I got to thinking about the past and what my children and grandchildren have and are missing out on.

Last Tuesday, while sitting with fellow ‘hookers’ (rug) and watching the snow come down, my thoughts ran to cardboard. I’m sure you are saying the same as a couple of the ‘younger hookers’ in the room (they are in the late 50’s) “cardboard”? At the time I didn’t realize I had said the word out loud. It certainly wasn’t a subject that had come up before and believe me we cover a lot of subjects! Yes, cardboard. Haven’t you ever gone looking for or in off seasons kept your eye out for the perfect piece of cardboard for sliding on the snow. Cardboard works in just about every snow condition when Flexible Flyers and Toboggans don’t. Cardboard can carry one or more persons depending, of course, on the size and sturdiness of the cardboard piece. Blaze a trail and off you go, snow spraying your joyful face and maybe a little fear in your heart if the trail is a steep one. Then, at the bottom, you pick up your cardboard and truck to the top and do it all over again. So, as you can see, cardboard could be the perfect sled, light, so portable, works in almost all snow conditions and when it wore out or got left behind or forbid, stolen, just find another piece. I spent the first 6 grades in a one room schoolhouse and our teacher, Mrs. White, let us use our ‘art class’ personalizing our piece. And I might add, we were ‘green’ before we knew we should be. Cardboard left to the elements of snow and rain disintegrates and returns to the earth! How great is that?

On our way to the movies Wednesday, looking out at what could be great sliding hills, the moon shone on what looked to me to be Nirvana- crust. This makes for a perfect sliding experience.

My sliding days are over (at least the sliding that is fun) but I look back and remember what fun we had and if you used cardboard, no expense. Because of these memories, I never look at cardboard without evaluating it for its ‘higher purpose’.

Idle Time is Memories Motivation

The other day, looking for “busy work” so as to avoid jobs like cleaning the cellar, etc., I chanced on my teens era RCA Victrola. It’s a trade model and has always been quite good. I put on a Victor “double disc” record, wound up the machine, released the turntable brake and awaited music. The turntable barely turned and the terrible low speed music was accompanied by an unfortunate reoccurring screech. I know quite a lot about this machine’s history and it has had minimal and gentle use. Nothing to do but to take it apart and see what’s wrong. Inside there is a care and maintenance label. It suggests lubrication. RCA wants you to use Vaseline…but there was a little blue jar of Vicks Vaporub. Just medicated vaseline, right? Dave’s garage would be proud of me! Did it fix the Victrola? No, but the gear train worked real smoothly and smelled healthy just like me. The problem turned out to be a slight warping of the aluminum turntable so the underside would hit on the breaking mechanism, drag down the speed and screech. I ground down the high spot and now it’s all music to my ears.

In the 1950’s, Mahlon Teachout bought a Victrola from the estate of a woman who was said to have received it as a gift from a suitor who never returned from WW1. She never could bare to play it and it was put away.

Some time later, I got it in a kind of complex trade with Mahlon. He got a small plot of land and a ruined saw mill building and I got the Victrola and a 1920 Buick GK45 touring car. The Buick made it to one of the first Stowe Car Shows but I cannot say for sure, the very first. I sold it to get married in 1960 but I still have the Victrola and good memories of both.

Ramblings from an Aging Mind

Wow, survived the holidays with no more cracked ribs or crushed toes. This included cookie day with our daughter, our friend and her daughter, family get-togethers; didn’t have to wrap presents as a friend likes to do that?? We got the tree set up with the lights on so that the grandchildren could decorate it on Christmas Eve. After that three generations watched the Muppet movie.

We did lack snow, but pretty sure we will be getting some very soon – this is Vermont. For now, it serves to remind me that I have not raked the leaves yet. Oh well, they will still be there in the spring! The holidays being behind us now means thinking about getting the garden ready for planting (I will remember to plant Brussel sprouts this year), cleaning out the asparagus bed and being able to hang out washing again. Oh, and lawn mowing, but Wendell and the rider mower do that these days. I kind of miss pushing around the old mower, but there will be flower beds to clear of fallen tree limbs and rose bushes to trim, so no lack of projects.

I have been feeding two stray cats, but cannot get them to let me touch them. I would take them to the Hu-mane Society if I could catch them because our cat would not welcome them. You may notice that I said “our cat”, as his previous owner still cannot have him in his new place, but then, without him, who would sleep on my bed at night! So, I guess it all works out. Anyway, hope everyone’s holidays were fine and we wish all a very Happy New Year!!!!