I do what they call a rolling stop…

vt dirt road

It must have something to do with the fact that I’m getting old, or am already old, but I find more and more things really irritate me. The first thing that comes to mind is road rage. I think I’d go mad if I had to drive in a metropolitan area on a regular basis. I find it difficult enough to drive in Burlington. All the lights, whether they are on cars or streets, are bad enough, but then you have people walking everywhere and bicycles everywhere, and cars darting in and out of strange places. Add darkness and rain to the mix and it’s not very good. 

I don’t know about you, but I find more and more cars blatantly going through red lights and ignoring stop signs. I’ve even seen school busses doing this. It’s not just young people either! It seems like it is parents of these young folks. Not using directional signals is another problem. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t even trust cars that have their directional signals on. 

I won’t even mention driving on the Interstate, where everyone is going about 80 mph. It’s almost unsafe to be going the speed limit. I guess I’ve been driving on dirt roads long enough where you can drive down the middle of the road, or even on the wrong side of the road, depending on the road conditions, without worrying about other cars. One needs to concentrate because of pot holes, ruts in mud season, or slippery conditions. After dark, you have very few headlights to contend with. Just an occasional deer or two. More often than not, there is more than one deer so you just have to look carefully. I’ve never hit a deer, but it seems like everyone else I know has, with minor or major damage to the vehicle. (I did hit a bear once, or I should say the bear hit me). It wasn’t hurt and I was driving the VW Thing which sustained just minor damage. 

I do admit to not coming, to a complete stop, when there is a stop sign on some dirt roads. I do what they call a rolling stop, which seems good enough to me. Why there are even stop signs in some places is beyond me. Speed limit signs, too. The speed limit might be 35 MPH when you drive through a town, but then on a dirt road, some where there is a 25 MPH sign for no apparent reason. How about following a car down a road that is going ten miles below the speed limit? It usually is some older person that can barely see over the steering wheel. This might be all right on a back road but can be dangerous on a paved road with a fair amount of traffic. It seems like everyone is impatient and needs to pass these slow moving cars, usually on dangerous stretches of road. 

Then there are the people who still use their phones and swerve all over the place and sometimes pull to the side of the road in weird places. 

I think I’d best stop before I move on to another pet peeve. There seems to be no shortage of them these days. 

Because Nice Matters

Welcome 2019! As we head down this new year’s road, I’d like to tell you a little bit about a very special per-son. She has shared duties of contributing articles for “The Softer Side” for a number of years but has decided to officially retire, and Wheel Tracks Editor Gary Fiske asked me if I would take over from her, and I’ve accepted. I knew immediately what my first article was going to be about or, more specifically, who it was going to be about. 

mary noble

Mary Noble was brought up as a true farm girl in Plymouth, New Hampshire, and eventually made her way off the farm to the University of New Hampshire where she graduated with an English Literature degree. And you might say, now what? What does one do with an English Literature degree? Well, she got married to one, Wendell Noble whom she met while at UNH, but during their engagement, she just didn’t sit still waiting for the big day. Talk about stepping outside the box in the day: In true Mary style, she went on to the prestigious Katharine Gibbs School. 

After Mary and Wendell married in 1963, they moved to State College, Pennsylvania. Mary found employment at the HRV Singer Sewing Company as secretary to, in her words, a “big honcho.” This was during the time of the Vietnam War, and Singer was a defense contractor to the U.S. government where they were making the Norden bombsight, which was a tool that bomber plane crews used, to accurately set their sights on targets. And you probably thought Mary was dealing with sewing machines, didn’t you? 

NH map

In 1966 Mary and Wendell found their way north to Vermont by way of Bennington, Jericho and, finally, Milton in 1971, settling into a beautiful old farmhouse where they raised their three children and are now proud grandparents to three grandchildren. Wendell tells me that the farm-girl upbringing paid off when they got to Milton. Over the years they’ve raised beef cattle and pigs, along with maintaining flower and vegetable gardens where, I understand, Wendell “does what he is told to do!” You go, Mary! 

Mary and Wendell joined the VAE in 1997. I first met Mary at an annual car show a couple of years ago and was drawn immediately to her quiet, welcoming demeanor and, of course, that ever-engaging smile of hers. Asking if there was anything I could do to help, she immediately put me to work! 

So how does she like the car club? She says that the very best part of the VAE are the people, all the people she meets along the way. She also loves craft fairs and flea markets, so she made a deal with Wendell many years ago that he could go to car club functions with or without her and she was going to the craft fairs and flea markets with or without him! Isn’t it lucky that the yearly car show has an expanded flea market AND NOW a craft fair? And you know what she brings home from the flea markets? Matchbox cars. I didn’t get a chance to ask her how many she’s purchased over the years, but you can ask her yourself the next time you see her. 

And speaking of cars, her favorite vehicle is the 1928 Dodge Coupe in their garage which was given to her (and Wendell, I presume) by her father. I’m going to ask her for a ride in it this coming spring. We’ll be “Thelma and Louise” tooling down the highway! 

I was speaking with Marion Thompson recently, who has known Mary for a number of years now, and I asked her, How would you describe Mary? Her response: “Mary untiringly and quietly goes about the business of the VAE always with a smile on her face. Whatever needs to be done, she just does it.” She can be found at the registration table or the souvenir booth going about her tasks always with that smile. Who better to have on the front line helping all our VAE show guests? 

Mary’s first love, of course, is Wendell and her family, but cooking/baking runs a very close second! If you haven’t been on the receiving end of her cooking, I can tell you for a fact you’re missing out. Wendell tells me that one of his favorite dinners is something called a hamburg/cottage cheese pie. Well, okay. So I challenged Wendell to get me that recipe, and he somehow managed to invade Mary’s kitchen domain without her knowing, and we are now the lucky ones! 

cheeseburger pie

Mary’s Cheeseburger Pie Recipe

1 cup + 2 TBS Bisquick® baking mix 
1/4 cup water 
1 pound ground beef 
1/2 cup chopped onion 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper 
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce 
2 eggs 
1 cup small curd cottage cheese 
2 medium tomatoes, sliced 
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (about 
4 ounces) 


Heat oven to 375°. Stir 1 cup baking mix and the water until soft dough forms. Gently smooth dough into ball on floured cloth-covered board. Knead 5 times. Roll dough 2 inches larger than inverted 9-inch pie plate. Ease into plate; flute edge if desired. 


Cook and stir ground beef and onion until beef is brown; drain. Stir in salt, pepper, the 2 tablespoons baking mix and the Worcestershire sauce. Spoon into pie crust. Mix eggs and cottage cheese; pour over beef mix-ture. Arrange tomato slices in circle on top; sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Bake until set, about 30 minutes. 

Ramblings of a ‘Mature Lady’

As I ‘mature’ it seems that I become more aware or should say irritated with things happening around me, i.e. the idea that school should start an hour or more later in the mornings, to allow our children to “get more rest”, and thus they will certainly do much better in school. Poppy cot!! What is keeping these children from going to bed at a reasonable hour? I fear it is TV, iPods, computers, tablets, smart phones and NOT reading, homework, household chores, or even a job. Let me say here that I am sure there are some out there that do work or have household responsibilities that prevent an early or even reasonable bedtime hour, but I believe this is the exception and not the rule.

One of my concerns is that every generation (for the most part) are getting ‘softer’ and it will manifest itself in ways that are not good for us or them. I am part of the problem, as I expected less of my children than was expected of me. I am sure my brothers and sister didn’t think so at the time, but Mother expected less of us than what was expected of her. At age ten she took over as chief housemaker for her Dad, 3 older brothers and 1 younger than her. She cooked, cleaned, did laundry and went to school. Because she was 10 and not very tall yet, her brothers made her a box to stand on, to make rolling pie crust easier! Now wasn’t that a nice gesture? She never talked about it as a burden, in later years, but something she did because it was needed. My 2 brothers were up in the morning at 4 or 4:30 to go to the barn and help feed and milk the cows, home about 6 to bathe (so they wouldn’t smell of the barn) and still had a mile to walk to catch the bus for school, only to reverse the process when school was out. Walk home, change clothes and back to the barn. Did I mention that the bathroom time was scheduled, so 5 of us could get in and out on time with only 1 bathroom, to some, this would be third world conditions! And believe it or not, there were some people at the time, that didn’t have that in Athens, Vermont in the early 50s.

It was barn work that I threatened my boys with, when they were young, if they complained about doing some chores. Also, just an update, my brothers graduated from school, got jobs (now retired) and survived their early years just fine. I don’t know if they regret it, but I feel bad they didn’t have time for the school sports, etc., that most have access to today and wouldn’t want that to change.

Have school start later? Not in my opinion. Make it mandatory that children work 6 months on a farm; definitely! You can’t know what work is until you do some.

Is Grandma’s opinion popular with her grandchildren? NO WAY! They are thankful I am not raising them, and I am not their school teacher, but I do hope that there will come a day when the 4 of them are sitting around camp swapping stories and they decide that Grandma had a lot of things ‘spot on’.

Winter Tires

From Judy………By the time you read this, everyone’s fall chores should be done. Wouldn’t that be nice….with one exception. Winter tires.

Gael likes to set a date in November to do this, often Thanksgiving weekend. I like to be ready for that first snow/freezing rain event. We seem to have had this same discussion for 50 years.

My biggest chore is putting on the storm windows. We have the old wooden ones, take them off in the spring, putting them on in the fall. The trouble with this fall chore, all the windows have to be washed, both sides of the storm windows and the outside of the house windows, and then while I’m at it, the inside of the house windows, all 21 of them. Getting them squeaky clean with no streaks is another problem. I’ve spent years cleaning windows many different ways, only to find smudges on them when looking through them in winter, when it’s too cold to do anything about it. Sharon Fiske put me onto a good cleaning product last year and I love it. It works! A few years ago, we installed those little number button things on the windows and corresponding window sills, which make another problem much easier.

Now that the storm windows are on, I move on to the flower beds. Because of the HOT/DRY summer we’ve had, I was ready to cut the flower beds back weeks ago but it was still too hot for me. If it doesn’t get done this fall, I’ll deal with it in the spring. I do have a list of gardening reminders going for next year because I can’t seem to remember much from year to year.

Then we move on to the wood pile! Our son, Owen, has been a great help this year and had most of it cut and split before black fly season arrived. Now it’s time to move the wood to the porch, but we can’t do it until the porch furniture gets moved to the upstairs of the barn, which we need help doing. Seems to me we need more and more help doing stuff lately! Now it will be time to rake leaves, not my favorite chore. A few years ago, our daughter, Susan, gave Gael a leaf blower for Christmas. It sat around for a while, but Gael got it out one year to see how it works and it does! It takes hours and in the end, you have several huge piles of leaves. Now it’s time to move the great piles of leaves. We used a huge king-size sheet that came from somewhere and that works great, and when done, folds up into a small pile to be put away until next year. Getting the leaves into the truck, driving down the road and depositing the leaves in a meadow is the next step, but an easy one. What to do with the geraniums that are still in bloom!! I usually bring them inside (something in past years I said I wouldn’t ever do again) and water them until they die in March. Some people have good luck keeping them over, but we don’t have a good place to put them, either, it’s too hot, there isn’t any sun or something. Then, come spring of next year, I’ll go to the local greenhouse and I’ll buy new ones in full bloom already.

Lastly, getting out the snow scraper from the back of the car, placing it close to the driver’s seat and making sure the tow rope that I got for Christmas a few years ago is in the car. This was a wonderful gift and I was glad to have it on more than one occasion. I do have a good story about my tow rope that I’ll share with you if you are interested. As of now, none of the above have been done. It’s still too early. But when the weather is right, the big rush is on.

A Drop in the Bucket List

About a year ago during a visit with our daughter, Martha in Colorado, she guided us on a trip to the Grand Canyon. On the way back she commented, “Mom we should go on another trip”. Where would you like to go? I suspect that she was thinking along the lines of a bucket list. I rather reluctantly responded the first place that came to mind “Uh, Alaska”, maybe because it starts with an A. I think I also suggested Hawaii.

Being of the digital social media generation, she immediately was on her smart phone and started the arrangements. Therefore, for a couple of weeks in June this year, we were in Alaska, landing in Fairbanks where we were met by our tour guide and bus driver, who were awesome with information about flora, fauna and wild life.

In Fairbanks we had an up close view of the oil pipeline, that runs from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. We also had a paddle boat cruise on the Chena river where we were able to visit an authentic Athabaskan village and see a lady working her sled dogs. We took a tour bus to Denali National Park, a beautiful ride. While touring through the park, we were privileged to see plenty of moose, Dahl sheep, fox, hares and a mother grizzly bear with her two cubs.

We then took a train (first class with vista cruise type car and great dining car service) to Anchorage and then on to Seward by bus. In Seward we cruised the fjord to see sea otters, orca whales, humpback whales and a close up of a calving glacier (not an animal but a hunk of ice). The weather was beautiful and the only wildlife we didn’t see were mosquitos.

I would strongly encourage a trip to Alaska. I do think you would want to have a good guide, and would recommend Trafalgar. With twenty-two hours of daylight, seeing the sights is a given.

Our daughter is now suggesting that our next tour be Africa. That starts with A also, but I’m not so keen on that. Maybe too much wildlife.

Photos from the Great American Race

The ladies have this month off – enjoy our pictures…

 

Preserving

globe ball jarsRhubarb!! We are overwhelmed with it. There is just so much you can eat.Friends either really like it or really don’t like it, so I can only give away so much. I would love to freeze some, but the freezer is full. We just have the freezer that is with the refrigerator…no large separate one. We use to have a big freezer, back when I had a big vegetable garden and froze produce along with pigs, beef cows, etc. We even had someone from somewhere in Canada come to the house once a week to deliver bread, English muffins, etc. That was great, but there were always loaves of bread that ended up in the bottom of the freezer, to be found a year later and tossed to the pigs.

ball jar logo dating chartSo, back to my little freezer, which seems to be filled with blueberries, blackberries and raspberries from last summer. It’s so nice to be able to freeze surplus fruit, but I have a problem with using it all. I want to save it for something, I’m not sure what, so now I have to quickly use it all, to be able to put more in the freezer shortly. Unfortunately, there is no room for rhubarb. I must get this feeling of having to save stuff from Gael who saves everything!!! So, it’s rhubarb pies, muffins, coffeecakes and bags of rhubarb left off a friend’s houses. Then, we’ll move on to blueberry pies, muffins, coffeecakes, along with blackberry pies, muffins, coffeecakes, not to mention raspberry pies, muffins and coffeecakes. I did find a bag of currants in the bottom of the freezer that someone gave me a few years ago. They got tossed. I guess it may be time to start making jams again. It’s been a while, but if I remember correctly, I had the same problem with jams and jellies. I would save them for some reason and then end up giving a lot of the jars away. Pickles! Another thing I would save and then throw away the contents a few years later so I could use the jars to make more pickles.

Right now, I’m not even going to think about pickled beets or green beans. We’ll wait and see how many empty jars I have, come August, and worry about it then.

Editor’s notes….. I have the answer Judy, or at least an answer from a guy’s point of view. Just one of those Globe canning jars in the picture above is worth $100 to $200. You can buy a lot of canned goods at Hannafords for $100.

Ball jars, in the common green shade, a wire bale 1910 is worth $400. A cobalt blue model fetches $10,000 or more.

Mason, Kerr, Hero, Atlas, Columbia, Bartow and Willoughby Stopple are names of others. Is there a VAE member out there who collects canning jars? How about giving us more information.

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!

A Page from “The Willy Chronicles”

As I was rummaging among our winter coats the other day looking for something to wear to run errands, I was thinking how winter clothing has changed over the years.

50s pea coatWhen I was young, a hundred years ago, I remember pea coats, knit mittens and galoshes. Gael still has a coat from the ’50’s that must weigh a ton, corduroy with some kind of fur collar. Our first trip to Freeport, Maine to the LLBean store in 1969 when it was on the second floor of an old building with creaky floors, I purchased a great coat which I wore for years and then our oldest daughter took it over. It was heavy, but not as heavy as Gael’s coat.

My mother knitted the kids hats and mittens to match their winter coats and snow pants, and they wore bread bags over their feet, inside their rubber packs to keep their feet dry. Down filled jackets probably had been around for quite a while but they arrived at our house in the 1970’s. Gael still wears one our son discarded, many years ago. It is looking a bit worse for wear and there are feathers everywhere when Gael wears it, but he isn’t ready to give it up yet. It must be on it’s second zipper by now.

LL bean great coatI’m not sure when fleece arrived on the scene, but it changed my way of thinking. Gone is “the heavier, the warmer” phrase and jackets now are light weight and as warm as their predecessors and good for washers and dryers. I have so many heavy sweaters that I hardly ever wear anymore. Were our houses that much colder back when? I can’t part with them, some I spent hours knitting and have fond memories wearing them. I must admit I do really like the fleece jackets, vests, hats and mittens that are hanging on our coat rack. Most of the time they are adequate, for most of our weather and with good heating systems in cars these days, who needs a heavy, bulky coat to drive in.

Winter footwear has changed over the years too. Gone are the days of heavy leather boots. We’ve moved on to lightweight winter shoes, LL Bean boots and Muck shoes. Moriarty (sp?) hats, remember them? We probably have a few still kicking around in back of the cupboard, along with the knit hats and mittens the kids wore many years ago. I just can’t get rid of them yet.

Another kind of coat that we have is the waxed jacket. I bought several of these on one of my trips to England many years ago and they are great. I happened to visit England a few years later in the Fall and picked up liners for the jackets. Queen Elizabeth even has one of these. Hopefully, by the time you read this, you will have put your winter jackets, etc., away, all cleaned and ready for next fall, perhaps with a few moth balls thrown in for good measure. You might even have left a dollar bill in one of the pockets.

A Page from “The Willy Chronicles”

‘Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose…..’

No, this article isn’t about who sang this song. If you know it was Janis Joplin you are probably about the same age as me and you would know that I just turned 70. This isn’t bad, but it is when I’m sure that I don’t look a day over 69!

Sorry I’ve gotten off track.

Willy, if I haven’t mentioned him before is a cat that used to come to our door at 6 AM and would scratch for food. He started this about 5 years ago. We would put food and water out twice a day for about 6 months. He wouldn’t have anything to do with us and would even wait to eat until we had gone inside. Once he thought Gary was too slow putting his meal down and he raced forward, bit Gary, and then raced out of reach! That is another story: The Rabies Watch.

the willysWith winter coming on, we started encouraging Willy to come in the house. After several weeks of moving his food closer to the inside (and the fact that winter had arrived, and he was living under our car trailer) he finally came in. Willy would eat, bed down for the night, wake up, eat and demand to be put out for the day. After, a couple more weeks, he would let us touch him but never hold him.

He did get used to us enough, so one day, armed with a big towel, we caught him, stuffed him in a cat carrier and we all went off to visit the Vet. He had an infected tail and it was amputated. The doctor said it had gotten broken (probably in a fight) and his ears had been torn. We brought him home with a 2-inch stub, all his shots on board and decided he would become an inside cat. But Willy had other ideas, he begged to go out almost immediately and as ‘good’ parents, we let him. Several hours later he returned, well after dark and wanted to come in. He was soaking wet and had a head injury. We figured his friends, who were still enjoying their freedom, had laughed at his shaved butt and stubby tail and he had to defend himself.

That did it, we did not let him out no matter how much he begged. It took months, but he seemed to settle into a life of tasty food, treats, and a warm place to sleep. I should mention he has 2 servants who cater to almost every wish and go out of their way to please him. And he stopped begging to go out. About 3 months ago when Gary didn’t realize Willy was near by and the door was open about 5 inches, he scooted through and out on the porch. He walked around the porch and went right back in. Hallelujah! I was close to a panic but could now calm down.

Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago, same scenario, door open a bit and gone! He sure can move fast but this time he explored about 15 minutes before he decided to come back, I’m in panic mode this time!

Now 3 days ago, someone came to the door and Gary answered it. Willy snuck through and again gone! We watched him taking his old route from years ago, across the front of the house, under the car trailer, to the first neighbor’s house, around the shrubs in front of neighbor #2 and out the back (which takes him to the next street). Full panic mode!! I couldn’t stand waiting to see if he was Gone-Gone, so I told Gary I was going out. I needed to exchange some of Gary’s clothes and get his medicine. In about 45 minutes, my cell rang, and Gary says, ‘did you find Willy?’ and I said,’ no I am not looking for him, I am at Tractor Supply’. Gary thought I was so upset that I had gone out on a search, but I was doing errands! Gary said Willy was in the kitchen, muddy and wet, but home! Hallelujah!!!

We have been trying to figure out why after the plush life we have given Willy, he would want to escape and the only thing we can come up with is that he has seen a former friend (namely girlfriend) and is willing to throw it all away for Love! Gary has noticed a lot of cat prints in the yard lately.