Cat Tales, etc.

Spring! It will come, better late than never! Also, VAE car shows – Shelburne Museum, July 16th and 17th; , The Vermont Antique and Classic Car Meet (formerly, Stowe Car Show) now taking place in Waterbury, August 10th 11th and 12th, just in case anyone has forgotten!

Our Colorado daughter, Martha, has set us up for a trip to Alaska the first week and a half in July. I hope to be able to get some vegetable gardening done before we leave, as we are out of relish and pickled jalapenos – now that is serious. We (hopefully) will be back before the Shelburne Show. My brother and his wife, will be going with us, and Martha.

A friend will be staying here while we are gone as our three cats will need food and company. By the way, I really enjoyed Nancy Olney’s “cat tales”; she and Gary do need more than one cat, of course. We could help with that since we have one that needs taming. Two of our cats go outdoors and back in, about 20 times a day – guess that is my exercise. I’ll just mention cat pans which they use before going out.

Our third cat is really, really elderly and mostly eats and sleeps, first on Wendell’s chest, then my head. O.K., enough about cats. It’s about time to clean up the yard – Wendell has almost all the logs he’s been splitting and stacked in the shed for next winter, so there is now a project for getting ready for lawn mowing – lots of chips and bark to rake up – and haul out. I am hoping the asparagus will do better this year – maybe getting the weeds out would help. I also hope the horseradish will be doing well, as we need to make horseradish sauce for the shrimp Wendell and others (not me} like a lot. That’s it for cats and gardening – for now!

Local Boy Makes Good

filabotIt’s very common these days to wring our hands over the fact that the younger generation has little interest or motivation beyond their smart phones and social media. In the VAE, our Golden Wrench Awards are aimed at encouraging young people to move beyond these distractions and focus their interest on science and math.

This month I decided (with a little prodding from Wendell) that it would be a good idea to write about a Milton young man, we have known, who has been recognized for his achievements. He has always been a “tinkerer”. Among many other things in the family garage, he put together a mini-bike, which he briefly rode around town, but it went faster than was wise with the increasing traffic. He came here to see our old cars, in fact. I think he did some work on old cars, as well as, all of his other projects. His name is Tyler McNaney.

tyler mcnaney
Tyler McNaney

After graduating from Milton High School, he attended Vermont Technical College in Randolph, but came up with the idea for a machine to turn recyclable plastic into filaments for use in 3D printers. He calls it “Filabot”, and he left college to start his own business to manufacture and sell his machines. His Filabot business has earned him a “Rising Star” award from Vermont Business Magazine and Best Small Business Award from Central Vermont Economic Development Corporation in 2016. He was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list a few months ago.

His team includes Whitney Trudo, Josh Heisler, Ben Holleran and others. I would like to think that we might have had some influence by encouraging him along the way. But I suspect he would have done just fine anyway. Tyler has many more ideas and hopes for future developments and to quote him, he will “Hit the ground running”. It’s gratifying to know that there are young people who have the drive and intelligence that Tyler has shown.

Editor’s notes…….

This from Tyler’s website filabot.com

Who are we? 

Used by NASA, Dupont, MIT and others all across the globe: Filabot is a plastic company that builds machines for filament extrusion. Our Filabot product line-up is built to convert plastic into filament for use in 3D printers. 

Check out our webstore for products and accessories, our blog for updates about Filabot and our customers and feel free to give us a shout with any questions or concerns. Thanks and happy printing! 

Beware – Friday The 13th!

These BRRR mornings are reminding us that there is a cold winter to come. Cold as it is, we in Vermont have it much better than most parts of the world, so no more complaining. In Vermont, tornadoes, earthquakes, wild fires, mud slides and hurricanes are rare. Of course, there are exceptions, like the microburst that blew down our barn in 2008. Anyway, on Friday the 13th, I once again fell and broke some ribs, right in my own kitchen. With the help of Tylenol and sympathy from the medical profession, I can still cook meals, feed the cats and birds and do laundry. I’m forbidden to do anything really strenuous like use the vacuum cleaner, oh darn!

Fortunately, I had already cleared the flower beds and what little we had for garden vegetables – cherry tomatoes and basil was about it.

Then it was time for the Gypson Tour up next to the Canadian border set up by Duane Leach which I first thought would be too painful – antique cars do bounce around when on back roads. But, take Tylenol and a blanket and go for it, I decided. So glad I did as it was a great tour, with beautiful scenery. Then there was all of the delicious food at Gary and Sharon Fiske’s home, once we got there – I am not the best navigator so we were the last to finish, but there was food left!

Then came the gale force winds that rattled the area last weekend. While there was havoc all around us, we were fortunate to have only one tree blow down and Wendell started up the outdoor wood furnace, so we had warmth and never did lose electricity, as did so many others. Our blessings, right? That was true until last Thursday evening when we were alerted by Green Mountain Power of a fifteen-minute electricity outage while some final fixes were made. It turned into a two hours outage. Guess it was our turn for a little taste of inconvenience. But, all is well now – so far!

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!!

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!!!

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!!!!

Hello 2016!

First, wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! We had our Colorado daughter and grandson here for Christmas, which was a good all-family-together time, including my brother Scott and wife. Wendell and I had actually gotten the bathroom wallpapered and a new shower curtain installed a couple of days before their arrival. I had “sort of” cleaned the house – wouldn’t want them to be too shocked, if squeaky clean! I didn’t get a chance to make wreaths this year, another first, but there’s always next year I suppose. We did get the Christmas tree up three (!) days early and put the lights on it. The rest was up to our guests, who did a fine job. We undecorated the tree and got it outside before it started shedding needles. It now has another life as a bird feeder with suet hung on it.

alligator wrenchWe were at a loss for what to bring to January “Memorabilia Meet”, when it occurred to me that we had a mysterious tool on the shelf that I had picked up at an antique store a couple of years back. Maybe it was automobile related. This might be an opportunity to get some educated opinions as to what it is. Wendell took it along and put a note on it asking for ideas as to its identity and use. We got some wild stabs, but no direct hits. Well, now this is the age of Google and computer search engines, so we subsequently gave that a try. Bingo! You probably never heard of an Alligator Wrench, but that’s what it is. Looking at it you can see where the name comes from. It was used mostly by steam locomotive maintenance workers to loosen nuts and pipes. I never would have guessed.

The Stowe car show is months away, but we’ve got to be thinking now about what items we’d like to offer for sale in the souvenir booth. We’d like to Jazz up our inventory a bit. If you have any ideas as to items you think would sell well, we’d like to hear them. Contact me or Kit Wheatley if you have any suggestions. We’ve heard umbrellas, coffee cups with VAE on them, water jugs, again with VAE, cloth tote bags with VAE or Stowe Show printed on them. Any ideas would be appreciated. Again, have a great 2016!

A Nice Fall Day On The Roads

vermont fall motoring tourThe Gypson Tour on Saturday, October 3rd, was a delightful ride. Wow!

Who, besides Bob and Wendy Chase, knew all those scenic roads even existed. They did a great job of arranging such nice weather for it also. We knew it would be a bit nippy so we came in a closed car, figuring that no one would be bold enough to bring an open car. Seeing Eric Osgood bundled up in Silver Annie and Gael Boardman with his Volkswagen “Thing” put us to shame.

The directional clues were insidiously clever. I’m pretty sure nobody got them all and that’s the way it ought to be. I was the “navigator”, trying to keep us going in the right direction(s). If we met a VAE car going the other way, we would figure we were going the wrong way, turn around, and try again.

Turning around was a challenge in itself due to October Fest traffic – where’s power steering when you need it? But the scenery was beautiful, when I had a chance to look, even though that look would make me miss a clue answer. With a few wrong turns, we probably saw more scenery than was intended. Anyway we ended up at the Commodore Inn’s back parking lot and finally gave in and opened “the envelope to find out where we should have ended up ” – duh!! That’s where we were supposed to be. What a lot of clever thinking Bob and Wendy put into those clues – thank you, thank you- it was a great tour. Whoever scores the highest gets to arrange next year’s tour and will have a hard time topping this one. I’m pretty sure it won’t be us.

One More For The Road

I realize that I am late in saying this, but hope everyone had a happy Christmas and that the New Year will be a good one for all. Our Colorado daughter and her son were here for Christmas day until New Year’s day. Having our three “children” and their children, plus my brother and his wife from New Hampshire, made for a great holiday get together. My New Year’s resolution is to have our house “spit spot” for the summer’s family get together, well, dust freer, and wallpaper replaced in upstairs bathroom. The paper was one of the first things we did – wallpaper really doesn’t stay nice forever I now know. Maybe if I start tomorrow, but it is too cold for housework – smile. Our son Tom’s New Year’s resolution at his wife’s urging, is to get to work on the 1935 twelve cylinder Packard limousine he was given by my Dad. Dad had acquired it from a ne’er-do-well young fellow whose wealthy father became tired of supporting his son, told him to pick a car from his extensive collection and get out of his house. This “back to nature” type of guy ended up living in a house that my parents owned, out in the woods and with no utilities. At the end of his brief tenancy, he didn’t have money for rent, so he gave the Packard to Dad. All our kids took a shine to this impressive yacht of a car and especially enjoyed riding in it during parades. Tom especially loved it so his grandfather willed it to him. It has been with Tom in New York, then St. Albans and currently in his garage in Westford. I think, in the past, I have mentioned that the three-car garage was the selling point for their buying in Westford. There was also a house and several acres of land, but those features were irrelevant to our son. Given the current lower gas prices, it might even be feasible to drive this gas-guzzler a bit. In any event, looking at it and working on it should be a good father-son bonding experience. Wendell’s resolution is to get his 1939 Chrysler roadster finished – no surprise there! It’s the same as last year’s. Must get back to writing Christmas cards. I thought of doing New Year’s cards, but too late for them too. Maybe if I start in October this year, I’ll get them out in time, maybe. There’s always hope.

Stowe Show Musings

Once again, I marvel at the work of the dedicated people who put together our Car Show at Stowe. I am pretty sure they are already at work for next year, in fact. Despite the rain and wind on Thursday, the next three days were pleasant and sunny, a little muddy, but great by Sunday! The kitchen team this year certainly presented many, many delicious meals. Then there was the setting up for vendors, car parking, registration booth, where Gael Boardman and Serge Benoit made announcements throughout the Show. There was the car corral, crafts tent, and the information booth.

The souvenir tent was an excellent vantage point to get a valuable perspective on the show. Thanks to Tom Alag of Shelter Logic for giving us a large white tent to work from. It gave us room for displaying things for sale and room for people who needed a place to sit out of the sun. They also had one of their tents set up nearby to be raffled off to a VAE member. Non-members could qualify by signing up on the spot, which they did. We gained a substantial number of members as a result. The winner was a lady who signed up about ten minutes before the drawing. Then there was the fashion show competition (Thanks, Julie, for covering that for me). The “everywhere needed twosome”, Duane Leach and Bob Chase, who were always (mostly) smiling and al-ways helpful. If I wore a hat, it would be off to them! Also, to Chris Barbieri for his many interviews promoting the Show. Thanks to Nancy Olney for staying at the booth so that I could be with Wendell in the parade. Also to Isabelle and Clark Wright, Theresa Rayta and Anita Bean.

Our constant interaction with the public provided us with interesting comments and suggestions. Many were valuable and a few were just “off the wall.” Some didn’t care for the car on the back of the sweatshirts, unless of course it happened to be their favorite car. So since we can’t please everyone, maybe just the VAE logo or show date should be on the back! Others would like a pocket on the tee shirts, tank tops, sleeveless tees, hats, VAE decals, pencils with VAE or Stowe Show on them. Several people would like to have the option of a three-day pass, rental carts for handicapped people and, as part of the judging awards, a “teen choice award”. Another suggestion was to have a tent for Bingo if someone would like to sponsor it.

The field is now empty and shows little evidence that it just hosted the best car show in the northeast. After a little bit of a breather, I look forward to being a part of it again.