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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How To (and How to Not) Snowmobile

Not even 30mph winds and 5 degree temperatures (yes that's Fahrenheit) can stop us from taking a trip on our sleds. Actually today was our first snowmobile ride of the 09-10 winter season! The trails were remarkable for this early into the season, mostly thanks to the eight inches of snow we received in the last 24 hours.

Beautiful trails... Look at all that snow!!

Now with any snowmobile trip, especially the first of the season, there are a couple check-list things we do.

  • All the legal stuff: Registration, proof of insurance, snowmobiler's license (since I was born after 1984), and VAST.
  • Stuff to bring: cell phone, driver's license (for identification), trail map, cash, and a tow rope. If you are going to be riding at night or near dusk a flashlight wouldn't hurt.
  • Mechanical Stuff: Check the oil, make sure all the lights are working, locate tool box, have extra spark plugs and belt, and remember to top off the gas tank.
  • Proper Clothing: Helmet (duh...), wool socks, very sturdy and warm boots, snow pants, a very thick jacket, neck warmer, and a good pair of gloves. Some sort of long underwear wouldn't hurt either... depends on just how cold it is.

That sounds like a lot, but really most of it is common sense. When you don't have common sense or think you are just too cool then you have bad things happen like this guy...

I'm not sure which is worse... standing in the snow and 5 degree temps wearing DC sneakers or running out of gas when you're a mile from town. Maybe running out of gas two miles from town? Or how about not having a tow rope with you? Good thing Shawn and I came by...

Leave it to firefighters to be prepared I suppose, but these fellows were saved a long and very cold walk (in sneakers!) back to town because of us. Shawn roped the two sleds together with no lack of expertise, told them to keep the rope, wished them good luck, and we headed on our way. Maybe they will keep the tow rope for next time? Or maybe there won't be a next time because they will think to top off their gas tanks before hitting the trails? Either way, I hope that at least that one guy gets a new pair of boots...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Share A Little Christmas!!

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not it is understood that this time of year is a time for reflection and a time for giving. So in the spirit of giving why not look beyond everything you have to be thankful and happy for. Think of others... no one needs to tell you there are people going without. So if you are lucky enough to be one of the "haves" rather than the "have nots" than consider something like this...

Help feed less fortunate families in Vermont. There are some families who depend on this, particularly children. This hits home... coming from an area where the unemployment rate is higher than the national average many families rely on this program to get by.


Locate a Charity in your area. There are probably tons of organizations in your backyard doing great things and trying to help people that could use a dollar or two if you have it to spare.

I am sure, God, Karma, or whatever you believe in would be moved by it. After all... that is the spirit of the season.

Merry Christmas from Jen!

In the Lane, Snow is Glistening!

Actually the whole Eastern Shore of Maryland was glistening with snow. It was a beautiful sight... something I (or anyone else down there) hasn't seen in the better half of a decade. And just as fun as it was to see my family it was incredibly great to get a chance to take some photos of a rare true winter scene and white Christmas on the Shore. Last time it snowed I was seventeen and hadn't developed a photographic hobby, let alone owned a fancy-smancy digital camera. This was also the first time I've ever braved the roads after a snow storm with my Vermont learned winter driving skills (because three days later the roads were still awful! ...they really just don't plow secondary roads down there). I got to see parts of the shore I have never seen covered in snow. So not only was it a great photographic moment, but a sentimental one as well.

Just a couple old barns and out buildings down the road from our house.

Fishing boats docked in the Choptank River. Classic Eastern Shore Image... sigh.

The horizon at sunset in Vermont is always occluded by mountains, but not on the Shore!

Of course there was also a mad blur of food, family, and presents. I can't believe that so much happened in literally a day and a half. At least everyone was together for a night and it felt like it really was Christmas, even though it was a couple days early. That's the magic of family and the holidays.

And every single year when we leave in the morning we are graced with a beautiful sunrise.

Its if the Shore is trying to entice us to stay, which honestly part of me would absolutely love, or maybe its just saying goodbye and come back soon.

Monday, December 21, 2009

En Route to Christmas Part One: The Mason Dixon Version

So we are offically en route to the "Old Line State" for a short visit with my family for an early Christmas. When we return we will have actual Christmas - which both Shawn and I are working at our respective professions so we won't count that. Then Christmas Part Two: North East Kingdom Christmas that will happen after the real Chirstmas. Finally there is part Tres... "Our" Christmas. There are a lot of Christmases coming up! Its like getting three holidays when the rest of the world gets one. Kind of like that "Christmahanakwanzika" only better.

We are leaving the snow covered mountains and cold valleys for this...

Snow covered fields and snow drifts! (The road my parents live on courtesy of my little sister)

Kind of looks the same! Officially, according to my mother's yard stick, they received 15 inches of snow, while there was more than two feet of snow in the little city I was born in just a few dozen miles to the north. I haven't seen snow down there in six years... I've got my camera. Can't wait.

Oh... and of course I'm excited to see my family! This is going to be an awesome Christmas Part One.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Now How is that Fair?

There is a lot of unfortunate Irony going on here...

Please note that this storm is not going ANYWHERE near Vermont..... hummppphhff.

For most of you on the Eastern Seaboard of the country you're very aware of the massive storm along the coast. Its all over the news and the radio. FEET of snow are being forecasted, not inches. The "most snow in six years" one station said. Another said "biggest storm in over a decade for the capital area." I am green with jealousy as I look out my window and see a just barely a foot of snow sitting on the ground.

Very Pretty... but hardly any snow!

Vermont is suppose to have all the snow! Snowmobiling season offiicially opened Wednesday with a fizzle rather than a bang. Most places the trails don't even have enough snow to make riding worth while. You'd just tear your sled up... My new Skidoo is sulking in a corner.

Where is our snow?

That is my forecast for Vermont. Anyone want to trade? I would be willing to negotiate the temperatures.

To add to the frustration I am planning (or was planning... ugh) to travel to my parents home which is located smack in the middle of the Delmarva Peninsula (just about the "a" in Washington on the first photo). But this storm has thrown a wrench into my Christmas family visiting plans. Thankfully it may only post-pone them by a day, but seriously... It hasn't snow there in YEARS. Figures some nonsense like this would develop when I make my biannual visit. Thanks Mother Nature...

But at least it looks like my mom may get a White Christmas too, one of the five she's experienced in her lifetime. And I can giggle at the thought of everyone freaking out about the snow down there. At least there is that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Framed Masterpieces!

After weeks of waiting... My Christmas came early. They are here! Framed, professional photos of MY prints. In my hands.

I must say that even with all attempts to be modest I was completely and utterly impressed with them.

So to catch you all up to speed... about a month ago I went to a local store here in town - Simon the Tanner - and asked if they would display my photos. Not only did the store owners agree to display them, but they also agreed to display them without any form of fee or commission! What a heck of a deal. So I ordered four of my prints professionally framed and they finally arrived today.

I picked four of my most favorite photos that are displayed on my website ( and after seeing the final product I immediately wanted to order more. Too bad these won't hang in my home...

And they are really meant to hang. The back of them is just as nice as the front and it comes with all the hardware and wiring to be displayed in whatever way one chooses.

I even made little business cards to put with each of the photos that are being displayed. How professional!

This will be my first venture to see how marketable my photos are and an attempt to get my name out there. That's definitely been the hardest part about this whole thing... more people read my blog than my web page! I never realized how hard it is to get yourself "known". I'd never make it in the cut-throat world of product marketing that's for sure...but at least I am making a feeble attempt!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Yankee Gift Swap Explained

Up North here there is a little twist on holiday party gift giving. Its not your usual Secret Santa fun. I've heard some call it "Chinese Christmas", but in Vermont we call it the "Yankee Gift Swap." Now, not being a Yankee by birth I was a little confused as to this holiday tradition at first, but once you catch on it is quite fun and can be down right hilarious. There is actually a bit if luck and strategy to it.

First off you start by counting up everyone involved and having them pick a number on a folded piece of paper. The numbers are 1 through however many presents there are. Whomever picks "1" goes first and picks a gift off the table and then opens it for everyone to see what it is. The person who drew number "2" goes next. They pick a gift, open it, and then get to choose whether to keep their gift or swap. So if you are the second person to go you can only swap with the first person since no one else has a gift yet. Its the least advantageous number to receive since you have very the least amount of options to swap for. Number "3" then picks a gift and can either keep it or swap it with with the first and second person. And so on and so on... until all the gifts are chosen. Then, once everyone has picked a gift and everything is opened the person who went first gets to pick whether to keep the gift he/she has or swap with ANYONE else's gift. Its best to draw number "1" and be the first person to go because then essentially you get to see everyone else's gift and choose what you want at the very end.

That is what we did last night at our Christmas party. Of course there is a little strategy, like the gift you choose to give. Its a lot more fun to do a Yankee swap with a couple of really funny gifts. We'll use our friend here as an example. He unfortunately drew number two. That meant that there were a lot of unopened gifts to choose from and only one person to switch with. Decisions decisions....

He picked a gift and opened it in front of everyone. And what was it? Why it was a DVD of the movie Brokeback Mountain and a Trojan magnum condom with a vibrating ring.

His face turned redder than Santa Claus's suit... Now he had to decide... switch with the first person or keep the gift? That's where strategy comes in to play. Of course he could switch with number "1". Remember... number "1" gets to switch once all the gifts are opened and could choose to switch back with him. Then he would be stuck with that DVD and magnum condom in the end. But of course... if he doesn't switch no one in their right minds would say "hey... I want to swap my gift for that DVD and condom and you have there. I've got a big weekend planned!"

Good choice... Switch for that Sam Adam's Winter Ale. Of course, by the end of the Yankee Gift Swap the Sam Adam's had been swapped a few other times and our friend ended up with a "jumbo universal remote." At least it wasn't the DVD and magnum condom. That gift when to a different unfortunate coworker who chose to take the Sam's Winter Ale from our friend and forgot to take into consideration that number "1" may want to swap back for that Ale... which of course he did.

It's all in the strategy... If you get greedy and go for the best gift you have to remember that number "1" is always lurking till the end and you just might lose it. And that's the whole idea behind the Yankee Gift Swap.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Deck the Halls!

Over the river and through the woods to the Christmas tree farm we went! There are literally dozens of Christmas tree farms within a twenty mile radius from our house, but we always go to the same one. Its become a tradition...

A twelve acre mountain side lot full of trees owned by an old French-Canadian man. He offers you a tractor ride to the top and will help you get the tree down, but Shawn and I always decide to hoof it up on our own.

Last year we walked all over the entire mountain, managed to get ourselves lost in the maze of paths through the trees, and then had to haul a tree about a half a mile down the mountain. This year we were on the mountain about five minutes when a tree finally jumped out at us. Shawn played lumber-jack and sawed the tree down.

They bail the tree right up for you and throw it in the back of your pick up. And if you are hungry or need something to warm up they have home made cookies and hot chocolate to offer you. How nice!

Growing up my parents used to torture my sisters and I by making the tree sit outside for a day or two before putting it up. It was as if they were trying to purposely delay Christmas by making it wait at our doorstep. Then they decorated it piece by piece a day at a time. Garland one day. Lights the next. Then the ornaments on the final day before it was all said and done. It was a week long process that made me impatient because it just isn't Christmas with a half decorated tree in your living room. Shawn and I have none of that...

He did all the technical stuff... check the lights. Untangle the garland. All the frustrating things. I got to do the fun stuff and put everything on the tree. It probably worked out better because of my slight obsessive compulsiveness where I have to place things in a certain organized way and nothing can be lumped together.

After only a few hours the tree was finished and adds a magnificent Christmassy touch to our living room. Our halls our decked... and despite both of Shawn and I working Christmas Eve AND Christmas day we are still very much in the Christmas spirit. Now I just have to get started on the shopping....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Things You Should Never Do To Your Pet.

I definitely see myself as one of those crazy moms that dress up their children in ridiculous seasonal outfits. Cute little sailor suits in the summer. Crazy festive style bows for the holidays. Argyle sweaters for the fall. The possibilities are endless and exciting! But I don't have any kids... so when I get into the Christmas spirit and have a lot of free time on my hand what am I to do?

That's right... I've got three dogs. (muahahaha... *evil laugh*)

So in a festive mood last night I decided to share it with my pets and dress them up and pose them in ways that no self respecting animal should ever have to tolerate. It was all spawned by the cute little pet accessories I saw at the store.

Can't you sense his holiday cheer?? Now seriously... if they didn't want you to do this to your pet then they shouldn't make those gosh-darn-so-cute little Santa hats and Of course I bought stuff for all three dogs.

He is ready and willing to stand in for any of the eight reindeer should the need arise... well... at least he should be ready to do that by the way he looks. I find it amazing how dog's eyebrows say so much. Because, despite all the cheery Christmas paraphernalia, he is sternly communicating to me how much he wants to chew my camera and those stupid antlers on his head.

And of course a group photo. No one can escape the Christmas fun! Despite their apparent misery I think this photo shoot was one of the cutest darned things ever.

Now, I think I am going to go out and purchase a couple of those itchy holiday sweaters for my future grandchildren. Lord help them...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reason #647 Why I Love my Job

Sometimes people call 911 for the most non emergent, ridiculous things ever (granted somehow in their minds its an emergency to them - or not...). And then there are times where people call 911 and its a legitimate problem.

Take this person for example...

Someone out in the rural divides of the Green Mountains developed acute severe chest pain. 911 was called, an ambulance was requested, and I arrived at the patient's side about half an hour later. My husband was the paramedic on duty for intercepts so I had an extra incentive to call for a paramedic to help me care for this patient. The pain was unbelievable... the kind you know without a doubt that its legitimate.

So my husband was dispatched to meet with me en route to the hospital. When he met up with us and climbed into the back I had the 12-lead ready to go (Only paramedics can actually acquire 12-leads here in Vermont). We ran it and this is what we found...

yup... that's a STEMI. And don't ask what's going on with V3... it just had a moment.

A closer look of V4, V5, and V6.

And this is what the Zoll said...

Thank you, Zoll for pointing out the obvious!

Unfortunately here in Vermont, particularly North Eastern Vermont, we do not have clear cut STEMI protocols, let alone a team of people waiting to be activated like at the bigger hospitals or a cath lab. Heck... we don't even have an orthopedic surgeon on call most of the time. But I felt better knowing that I started the chain of events that led to the rapid diagnosis, treatment, and transfer of care to a specialized hospital for this patient. I may not have been able to do anything except legitimize this patient's chest pain and get the ball rolling, but when time is muscle (cardiac that is...) I feel like I made a difference.

And that's just reason #647 why I love my job.