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Friday, November 28, 2008

Desert Fail

Leave it to me to mess up my small contribution to Thanksgiving dinner. Shawn and I were going to have Thanksgiving dinner, which actually was more of a lunch since it was at noon, at his parent's house. I felt obligated to contribute since we were basically just coming over to mooch food. Shawn's mother suggested I bring a desert and I knew what to make... pretzel salad.

Now the last time I made something for Thanksgiving I made pretzel salad, which is traditionally made with strawberries. No one had told me at the time that Shawn's mother was deathly allergic to strawberries until I showed up at her house bearing my anaphalactic gift. I felt horrible, so this year I wanted to redeem myself. My bright idea was to remake the desert, but this time with raspberries.

When I set to making the desert I was still tired and cranky from working a 36hr shift that ended the night before and in a rush to make it so the jello would set in time for it to be served at noon. In my haste I forgot a very import ingredient that goes in the middle layer, sugar. I did not discover this until I went to pour the top layer on, the jello and raspberries, and it sank beneath the cool whip. Not what it was suppose to do.

This is what pretzel salad is suppose to look like:

And this is what it looks like when I make it without sugar... A lot less aesthetically pleasing . Even the pan I used doesn't look pretty by comparison. Maybe I should have used my pyrex...

I still served my desert to Shawn's family and it actually tasted pretty much the same. It just didn't look as pretty. At least I tried. And I swear, I really am a good cook. I just need to pay closer attention to the recipes. My kindergarten teacher wasn't too far off when she said that at times I had problems following instructions.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Its Not All Bad

The economy may be less than stable. People may be losing their jobs, their homes, and their savings. Expendable income is shrinking. Confidence is diminishing. There are so many negative things happening around us today in this country. But this is a lighter side...

For the first time since 2005 the gas prices have officially dropped below $2 a gallon. It seems to be the one great effect of a souring economy on the average American, lower gas prices. So as the season approaches to travel afar to relatives we see only once a year and as we turn our furnaces on at home, burning oil or gas, there is relief. Maybe going home this holiday won't be such an imposition.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

From Snow Squalls to Shopping Malls

Both Shawn and I spontaneously decided to spend the day making a trek to Burlington, even though it is the middle of hunting season. The weather community did a poor job forecasting the weather, which they claimed would be sunny and clear, but when we woke up we found a completely different scene. So I decided to chronicle our adventures with several photos. Our travels to the other side of the state when the weather is unexpectedly unpleasant.

This is what your car will look like when you step outside in the morning after receiving several inches of snow unexpectedly. I don't even have my ice scraper/brush in the car yet. The trick to clearing off snow, start your car, let it run long enough until you can see a little through the windshield, and then drive away. As long as the snow is fluffy it should just blow away. No scraping involved.

Entering Island Pond from the north side. The roads had a couple inches of snow, nothing an experienced winter driver like myself isn't used to.

...weird... last weekend it was 60 degrees and this weekend is has been in the teens and twenties.

It continued to snow and the road conditions made for a slow going, which sucks when your destination is so far away.

Sometimes in the winter there is so much snow that you can't see the sides of the road. It looks like you are driving in a field. At least that wasn't the case this time.

A typical Vermont scene during hunting season. Two large bucks hanging from a tree. Funny... because in Vermont you only get one buck tag. Hopefully this guy has a son/daughter/wife/somebody who shot the other deer. Probably not. Its Vermont, where deer jacking and poaching is a big problem. One man was quoted on the news after being caught shooting over 300, yes THREE HUNDRED, deer in a season saying "I don't need a license to shoot deer illegally." That says it all.

At times the clouds broke apart enough to let a tiny sliver of sun through, but not for long, and then it began snowing again. Sometimes hard. It was like the mid-winter snow squalls we often experience.

Note that the roads are still covered in snow and kind of shiny in the tire tracks. Shininess = ice. Can you tell we were driving on pavement?

Just a close up of a milk truck as it went by. As we drove over the spine of the Green Mountains the snow picked up intensely and our driving speed had to slow considerably.

Once we crossed over the spine of the Green Mountains the snow was less significant and the roads were a lot easier to drive on. You could start to see mountains in the distance, rather than everything being socked in with snow.

Finally we arrived in Burlington. The second half of the drive was a lot quicker than the first thanks to better road conditions. In the picture you can see Lake Champlain as we drove down Main St. through downtown Burlington, about the only city I will dame to drive through.

We made it down to the lake's edge where the docks are. It was FREEZING cold, actually below freezing at about 24 degrees with a stiff north west wind coming straight off the lake. The sun set early, but left a beautiful scene and some color.

The remainder of the evening was spent perusing Burlington, shopping, and purchasing an excessive 47" flats screen television. A great day, in a nutshell.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Subpoenaed... sort of

I've responded to many calls and many of those calls have been crimes or crime scenes. I've been to everything from DUIs, assaults of all sorts, suicides, bomb threats, and even a homicide. It is not something new for an officer to come up to me on a scene or at the hospital after we transport someone and ask me for my name, rank on the call, and birth date, just in case they need to contact me for court purposes. Out of all those calls I have never been called by any court representative in relation to any case. Not one call, not even the homicide a couple years ago (which was an open shut case because he committed suicide as well) until today.

I came back from an uneventful EMS call to find a message waiting for me from an attorney. They wanted a statement from me in relation to a past call. Now I am pretty sure I can't mention what the call is. In my opinion it wasn't that big of a deal, as far as ambulance calls go anyway. Out of all my other past calls this one really didn't stand out, but I guess that doesn't make a difference. You never really know what will end up in the judiciary system.

Apparently they had wanted me to come and testify in court, but they could not contact me in time for some reason. That's fine. I have no interest in going to court, especially work related. Even if it is not me who is on the defendant side, but providing testimony instead. To appease the court I made a written statement and then faxed it to them. They warned me that I may be called in to court on a later date since there are multiple portions to the case process. I'm excited... *retches*

Monday, November 17, 2008

Opening Weekend

My entire weekend was spent in a cabin on a mountain with three men (my husband, father-in-law, and a friend of theirs) with no running water or electricity. I also spent my entire weekend with an intense sinus infection that caused chronic complaining and bitching, made worse by the rain and warm temperatures. I did not take any photos of my camp experience, as I was too busy wishing to be back at home, while trying to put on a happy face for Shawn as we tromped through the bogs, mud holes, and mountainsides in search of the elusive white tail. We woke up around 4:30am every day and headed out into the wilderness. There were tons of deer tracks to follow, but nothing came of it. The first day ended with me dragging myself back to camp. The camp was improperly heated. Being that it was a damp 50 degrees outside meant it was too cold to not have heat, but much too warm for a wood stove. The end result was extreme heat. Unfortunately my cold caused my internal temperature regulator to malfunction as well, making the heat indoors seem utterly unbearable. The next morning was a repeat. My cold was also just as intense as the early morning sleepless feeling. Shawn and I headed out again, but this time in a different direction. After only a short walk we saw a lot of tracks, followed those, and actually ran into several buck scrapes. I found three total and one in particular looked fairly recent. Here is a video of a buck making one...

We kept walking, hoping to run into the buck that made the scrape, since in Vermont you can only shoot bucks, and the bucks must have a fork in their antlers (meaning 3 points or greater). We did not run into the buck, but instead came across a fairly large doe and a skipper (yearling/fawn/baby deer...etc). After a while my cold was really starting to get the best of me and I convinced Shawn to go back to camp where we finally packed up everything and came home, where I fell asleep shortly after.

Today I am feeling much better. The cold seems to be retreating, slowly. Shawn is at work, so I am at home left up to my own devices. I am contemplating going out hunting on my own this evening. We do have a blind set up on our property. I went down earlier to see if there were any tracks near the blind, but there were not. The new snow covered any sign from last night. Despite this being my first year I think this may be something I can get into. Hunting requires a lot of work, patience, and time outdoors. Its a challenge, and I like challenges.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hunting Season Approacheth

One crucial part of hunting season is sighting in your gun. Since it is my first real hunting season it is also my first time sighting in my own gun. A few weeks ago Shawn helped me pick out a new rifle, Remington Model 7, a 7mm - 08, bolt action. Its a beautiful little gun. Fits me well. Yesterday we went down to "The Pit" to do some shooting and make sure the scope was in line properly.

Setting everything up takes some time and patience. Shawn set up the target as I set up the gun on the rest. We shot about 50 yards away and then about 100 yards. One shot at a time. After every single shot you have to walk all the way to the target, look at where you hit, see how it groups with your other shots, and then go back and make an adjustment to your scope based on where you are shooting.

All in all I shot about 14 shells and am pretty close to center, but not exactly. I need to go back and shoot it a little more. The gun has very little recoil, but after over a dozen shots you really start to feel the gun and your shoulder gets tired. My shoulder started to hurt and my shots started going all over the place so I called it a day. You can only shoot so much before you start getting sloppy.

So tonight I am going to "Deer Camp" with the husband, his family, and family friends. Tomorrow morning will be my first trek out into the woods. With the weather forecast calling for a complete downpour I am none too excited, but hopefully I will have some luck in the woods and not get soaked to the bone in the process.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Colors are Gone, But the Beauty is Not.

Even though much of the plant life around here has died or is dormant for the season I still love being outside and viewing the scenery. Before a huge blanket of snow covers the ground and snowmobilers stalk the trails I love to walk them and enjoy the crisp, cold air. My dog, Sutton loves it too. No matter how far we go he never seems to get tired. I never get tired of the ever changing and ever beautiful sights of the Kingdom, either.

A view of Island Pond from the back side of the field where the trail comes out of the woods and the bigger mountains way off in the distance covered in snow

Sutton, sitting still only for a second during our walk. We both loved it, despite the wind that made me regret forgetting a hat. Any chance to get outside, especially this time of year, makes me so happy. There is just something peaceful and serene about the landscape as it prepares itself for winter.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Brass Knuckles??

The other day my car strangely would not turn off. The key would not disengage completely. While the engine would shut off the electronics in the vehicle were still running. For some reason the key would only turn as far as the auxiliary mode and I could not remove the keys. Apparently the issue was a plastic piece that connected the shifter to the transmission that told the transmission what gear to be in had broken. My transmission would not go into park completely. Go figure such an important piece of my car would be made of plastic. So I took it to the garage here in town, the Chevy dealership where I purchased the car to begin with. Two hundred dollars and two days later I had my fully functioning vehicle back.

Initially I didn't notice what was left in my car. I mean, I don't usually look for something like this, but the morning after I picked my car up I noticed something in my cup holder that wasn't there before. A set of brass knuckles. I literally was shocked and pissed off. Where the hell did they come from??

Vermont Laws on brass knuckles can be found here.
See § 4001 - § 4005

To summarize, they are illegal and can result in imprisonment and or fines. To complicate the matter they were in my vehicle at work, which is on a school campus, before I found them, which results in stiffer punishments. I also drive through at least three other school zones on my way home.

Here is the weapon. Look how ridiculous and tiny my hands look holding it. The spikes are a nice touch though. For the life of me I cannot imagine striking a person with these. The injury it would cause... would be awful. I am actually surprised that I even knew what the heck they were when I saw them. Never before I have seen these in real life.

Once I got home and removed the deadly weapon from my car I did a little detective work, which was basically a phone call to Shawn who then called the garage where my car was fixed. The brass knuckles belonged to whomever worked on my vehicle. Apparently he said he uses them to help rip apart consoles and the points on the knuckles to reset the shifter. Whatever the reason, Shawn explained that it is illegal to carry, own, or sell them. They did not have a reply.

I have yet to pay my bill and plan on having a discussion with the garage next week when Shawn can go with me. Trust me, I am less than impressed that I had a deadly and illegal weapon in my possession and did not know it. The result of the discussion I am planning at the very least will result in me saving two hundred dollars.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

I actually enjoy election day. I am one of those dorks whose parent's always took me with them to vote and explained the importance of politics to me constantly. Those talks created a civicly minded woman who takes pride in voting. Its one of the simplest things one can do to be and feel responsible. So yesterday I happily parked my car and walked in the warm sunshine to the town hall. It was a perfect fall day... reminded me of winter at growing up in Maryland. A little crisp, but warm and blanketing sun. And no snow, yet. I went into the town hall where no ID or any form of identification is required to vote. People just know you here. I voted. Taking my time to read each name of the candidates and revel in the feeling of patriotism and civic duty that I only get to feel once every four year or similarly at town meeting every March. Our ballots were paper. Our voting booths were aluminum stands with burlap-like blinds covering all four sides, but one moved allowing people to enter and exit. Inside was a small aluminum shelf connected to the booth to use as a ledger and a pencil. Thats all. No frills. No electronics even. I exited, folded up my ballots, and hand put them in large metal boxes with a hole cut out in the top, like entering a contest. The only disappointing part was that they did not have any "I voted" stickers, which I really wanted. A little badge of honor confirming to others my pride and civic responsibility.

So like everyone around the country I watch the television closely last night. It was almost more exciting than the superbowl or Macey's Thanksgiving Day Parade. By halfway through the evening it was clear there would probably be a winner relatively soon, as soon as the polls closed on the west coast. Not long after, John McCain conceeded to Barack Obama, the President Elect. I watched everything, somewhat excited, but mostly fearful. Fearful of the current state of the nation and whether or not Obama's ideals were the right ones for the current times. All I could hope was the the majority of the American people made the right decision and that Obama does not destroy the country as much as Bush, except in a left sided extreme. I felt pride for the African American community, but also hoped that such pride would not overwhelm and engulf the realism that this man is to be the president for all of us, black, white, what have you. His speech was an oratorical masterpiece, as such was expected, and everyone, no matter who one voted for, they could not help but smile and feel a glow of hope and pride as Obama continued his speach.

And Something Interesting...

I also noticed, as Obama's and Biden's families walked onto the stage after his acceptance speech that there was a familiar song playing in the background... It was from the movie "The Patriot" which actually happens to be one of my most favorite movies of all time. The song they used is track #4 on the movie soundtrack titled "The Colonial Cause" by John Williams. Click the MP3 player below to hear the song!

Discover John Williams!

Quite interesting that they chose that song. Not only was it from a popular hollywood movie, but it also draws thoughts back to colonial times and fighting for freedoms from oppression. I wonder if there is any foreshadowing there. Either way... best of hope for the next four years is all we can have, regardless of whomever we voted for.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Dinner for One

So Shawn was suppose to come home tonight. ...suppose to. I haven't seen him since Friday night when I came home from work. He was too tired to do anything, anticipating waking up at 4am, so we both just laid on the couch and then went to bed early. --yawn. Since it had been a while since our last real night together I planned on making a nice dinner and presenting him with a clean house so he could just come right in and relax. So tonight the house was clean, dinner was cooked, served, eaten, and half of it was left over.

Around 1pm I recieved a call. All I could really hear were engines and pumps running in the background, like the sound of generators. If you have any background in the fire service you know what a pump on an engine sounds like. He was at a fire. He was excited. Somehow he had a second to call me and tell me they were at a fire, to watch the news, and that he was safe. I was excited for him. least until the time came for his shift change and there was no call. He was still on scene. The fire they were at was on the news (source wcax):

Upper Valley Tire Fire
Pete's Tire Barn consumed by fire
Pete's Tire Barn consumed by fire

Hartford, Vermont - November 2, 2008

Crews from several different towns spent the afternoon at a major fire in White River Junction.

Fire officials say the blaze at Pete's Tire Barn broke out just after 12:30 Sunday afternoon. The building was completely consumed by flames when crews arrived on scene. Firefighters spent much of the afternoon trying to contain it from the outside, saying it was too dangerous to go inside. Witnesses could spot the thick black smoke from miles away.

"We were coming back from Claremont towards Windsor and and we saw the smoke and we decided we were going to try to find out what it was and we ended up here," said Elise Silver, who witnesses the fire.

"We first saw it over by the shady lawn area. It looked like the flames were about forty feet off the building, but by the time we got over to the other side, they were pretty much doused down," said another witness, Todd Clow.

Fire crews say they expect to be putting water on the fire through much of the night. Two state fire investigators are on scene trying to determine the cause. There have been no reported injuries.

Apparently it was a big one. They don't get fires like this often. In fact, it is the first fire they have had of this magnitude since Shawn began working there and he was lucky enough to be on the duty shift when it happened. If not, we live much too far away for him to respond to the call in any meaningful amount of time.

In one sense I am grateful that my husband gets to do what he loves, fight fire, big fire. And he will come home smelling like sweat and smoke... something that is oddly sexy. However, it is hard to be grateful when you are left at home waiting. Dinner cold and covered in the fridge. It is just something that I have to accept. At least I can be proud of my husband for what he does and will be the one sitting awake late at night waiting for him with a reheated dinner and a smile.