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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When it Rains I'm Bored.

For the last three days it has rain.  It's poured and I have been stuck in doors.  What a way to spend spring break, huh?  It's not like I am the type of woman to head to Cancun and participate on MTV's Spring Break Challenges, but I wouldn't mind some sort of excitement in my life... without having to worry about a bikini body.

This is not a pond...  its really my yard this morning.

While the rain has been nice and given me an excuse to catch up on all of my cleaning while watching all three seasons of the Tudors on DVD (I am absolutely obsessed with that series...I know... weeeirdo).  Eventually I ran out of things to do.  So what would is a normal person do?  

Pick up a book, perhaps?  

Get ahead in studying?  

Organize some old photos?  

Obviously not...  Instead, I chose to dress up my dog in one of my sweatshirts and take photos of him. 
That's completely normal, right?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Keeping My New Year's Resolution

When do you consider a New Year's resolution kept or a success?

I consider any resolution upheld through the third month of the year to officially be a success, but that's just me.  Its all about habit forming.  According to the scientists that do the research it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a habit with 66 days being the average.  It all depends on how much dedication the new discipline requires.  An easy action, like flossing, will become a habit in shorter time than say, running a mile every morning.  Now you've learned something! 
So, this year I made a resolution to complete every single reading assignment for my nursing class.  That is a daunting resolution that requires a lot of dedication considering every week we are expected to read anywhere from 50-150 pages.

I even tabbed every single week's reading.  Trust me, I've never been this organized before in my life.  I'm pretty sure I used to make fun of people that do this.

And here is proof I actually read every single page assigned.  Each page is highlighted, starred, and notated in my weird form of jargon for studying.  I think I went through no less than twenty highlighters this semester, enough to know which brand I prefer and which colors are too light or too dark.  As ugly as orange is its probably the best highlighter color, that or red.  Yellow, too light.  Purple and green, too dark.  Blue, I love blue, but its a little too dark.   

With one week left in the semester I call this resolution officially kept.  I had a lot of drive, though, to keep this resolution and that must be the key.  So much rides on my success of nursing school.  Not only am I paying a lot of money, but I have also applied to the RN year for my nursing program. (currently I am in the LPN year and you have to reapply for your second year due to very limited spots.)  I should hear whether or not I am accepted THIS WEEK.  Decisions are mailed March 31st... EEEEK!  Cross your fingers for me!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Because its only Fair... Spring in Vermont

My first photo contest is almost over.  Voting for this month's winner has just begun.  Please make sure you vote for your favorite photo because the one with the most votes by April 1st wins the grand prize. For everyone that participated I want to THANK YOU!  Its been so much fun!   I've got a new contest planned and ready to begin April 1st so don't put down your camera yet. 

You weren't the only ones out and about with your camera capturing signs of spring.  Up here there haven't been many...not too much green, nothing blooming, but things are melting and its great to emerge from the claustrophobic conditions of winter to take some photographs.

As soon as the snow started to melt deer suddenly appeared everywhere.  This little fellow was very curious about me as he stood on the edge of Lake Umbagog in Upton, Maine (which is suprisingly closer to my home than you'd think).  It was as if he had never seen a human being before.  Judging by how remote of an area I was in that seemed plausible. 
 The birds have yet to return from where ever they fly off to in order to avoid our horrible winters.  This is an old nest from last year still hanging in a tree.  I love how its fashioned out of birch bark. 
About the only thing green in our yard is the moss.  Its vibrant compared to the dull, brown ground.  I am not a fungi expert so I have no idea what these things really are.  Taking a photo this close up was a challenge for  me.  If you've seen a lot of my photography its usually of very expansive landscapes so this was something new.  Oh, I love trying new things!

This is "The Old Shaw Farm" in Peacham, Vermont.  I love this photo and had to do a U-turn and walk through their front yard just to get it.  The snow is gone and the sun was actually hiding right behind the barn.  My favorite part of this scene is the laundry on the line.  Nothing says spring like laundry hung to dry outdoors.

And that is what my camera and I have been up to this month!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What Warms My Heart. Literally.

In Maryland, where I grew up, people don't have wood stoves.  They have electric heat or a decorative fire place.  I remember the first time I even saw a wood stove.  I was seventeen and visiting a friends house.  They had this monolith in their kitchen with a pot of water atop that radiated heat.  It perplexed me.  "People actually use those still?  I thought that is what they used in the 1800's before electricity" I naively asked his mother.  You see my mind was very small at such a young age. Then his mother said he needs to find more intelligent friends and I was never invited back over again.

My high school friend's mother would have a huge grin on her face now knowing that I now have reverted to the 1800s and now heat my home with wood.  It has actually been quite an adjustment, especially through the long and cold winters up here.

A couple weeks ago when the temperatures peaked in the mid-sixties I thought for sure that the wood heating days and nights of the year were behind us.  Oh, how could I have been so ignorant?

This time of year our wood pile is dwindling.  Yes, we keep our wood in our walkout basement.  It is a fabulous arrangement because it means when the temperatures are -30 to -40 (yes, that's below zero) we don't have to walk outside where the rest of our wood is.  Plus, I'm just lazy.

It is a lot of work to keep a wood stove going.  You have to pay attention to it all the time or else it will go out, which incidentally happens to me all the time.  Usually I don't remember to stoke the fire until I begin feel cold and by then its too late.

But have no fear... when it comes to starting a fire I've figured out a lazy way to get it done quickly.  No kindling or newspaper.  Save that method for when you're at camp being a real woodsman.

You know the stove is going good when you see every animal in my house surrounding it, letting the heat soak into their bones.  Its an internal warmth that doesn't compare to the artificial propane or electric.

Or you could just look at the thermometer behind the stove.  (Please ignore the fact that I have not taken it out of the package in three years) And yes, it is buried well above 120 degrees, just how I like it.  

Have you experienced the greatness of wood heat?  Do you heat with wood?  If you haven't, you must, because if you can't tell, I am a huge proponent for it!  It really warms you through and through, unlike the artificial heat of propane or electric.  My seventeen year old self would be shocked out of her Levi's and Skechers at such a revelation.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

There is no excuse.

When it comes to house work there is one chore that I despise and that is the laundry.  I loathe it.  I detest it so greatly I'd rather have to wash the dishes, mop the floor, and take out the garbage 100 times over than do  the laundry.  I'm being honest about that. 

Its not the washing part that I have issues with.  When I run out of matching socks or get BBQ sauce on my favorite jeans (you would be amazed at how many times that actually happens) that is motivation enough for me.  When they are dry, now that is when I fail. 

This is as far as I get...

There is a couch under there (yes that is a hideous green couch cover, but its hiding an even more hideous 1970s era yellow plaid couch).  In case you were wondering, that really is just laundry for two people and there really is no excuse for such a reckless disregard of linen.  None. I just don't have the motivation to spend the time folding and putting everything away.  So what if I have to scrounge through that mess for a matching sock or if my clothes get a little wrinkly.  That's what I've got an iron for!

By Iron I really mean the dryer set on low tumble dry.

Speaking of that, does anyone even really iron anymore?

If you say yes then I don't believe you.  No one has ironed since 1993 when wrinkles became an acceptable fashion statement.  That is great for me because for once it means that I am in style. At least that's my rationalization.

White and black dog hairs are fashionable too, right?  I  know its a stretch, but who am I kidding? It looks like Bonnie is going to have to lose her napping spot and I will finally have to start folding laundry.  Or maybe just take up stock in lint rollers... 

Monday, March 22, 2010

They Can't Be Trusted

Never trust a beagle. Ever.

Sure they look harmless, with those pouty eyes and and friendly look, but don't turn your back on them. If you do this will happen...

I have NO idea what possessed him the chew a hole in the middle of my very nice fleece blanket. Perhaps he was trying to recreate a Snuggie so I could have a place for my arms? Either way I was not pleased...

"Who me? I don't know WHAT you are talking about! I swear"

Sure buddy.... I hope it feels as good coming out as it did going in.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

How I Came to Possess These Books.

Normally when I go out taking photos I come home with only a memory card full of images and some burdocks stuck to my shirtsleeves. The other day after my photographic excursion I came home with a couple extra items.

In search of a perfect view overlooking a small town I stumbled upon an old camp with boarded windows and a collapsed porch. It was obvious by the overgrowth and utter disrepair of the building that no one had set foot in it for at least a decade, maybe two. Normal people would look at it and walk in the opposite direction. Since I do not fall in that category I decided to move the giant green shutter and take a peek in the window. The mystery of the abandoned building enveloped me.

With the shutter removed I saw that the window was broken. Had someone been there before me? Or was it an animal? I glanced inside and half wondered if a raccoon would maul my face like that Family Guy episode. The room was small, dark, and hazy. Besides a beautiful, ancient, cast iron wood stove the only other remarkable things in the room were the shelves of books. Old books, the kind with the cardboard-like spine and simple lettering on the cover. I was intrigued. The room was calling me in.

Dodging the pieces of broken glass I squeezed myself through the tiny window. My eyes adjusted to the dim light and examined the room around me. The camp was small, it actually appeared to maybe have been a home at one point. Insulation and books littered the floor. There were old knickknacks, dishes, and children's toys that predated my childhood strewn throughout. Everything had been left and forgotten to decay and rot as the house fell in on top of it.

My eyes gravitated towards the bookshelf. What books were these? You can tell a lot about a person's interests by their bookshelf. Whomever had owned these had an affinity for birds and fine equine sports. There was an encyclopedia of registered stallions that contained at least ten volumes. Then I thought, these books have clearly been left to rot, but why should they? I decided I was going to take books back with me. Two books were all I could carry along with my camera. I was going to "save" these two books from certain molder and decay. But which two books was I to save?

Browsing through them as if I were at a library I eventually decided on "Scorpion" and "Lovely Ladies, the Art of Being a Woman", two very different books, but I have my reasons.

Scorpion is a rustic novel about "a good bad horse" that was written by a legitimate cowboy named Will James. There was just something about the book that struck me.

Perhaps it was the incredible illustrations that were done by the author. You don't see books illustrated like this anymore.

Perhaps it was the story of a horse, good at heart, struggling to prove it, but always coming up short. ...I am and always have been a sucker for the underdog. Once I do not have to read nursing text books every single day I wholeheartedly intend on reading this book.

The other book "Lovely Ladies, the Art of Being a Woman" is a book of a completely different era.

Published around the time of the Great Depression it lays out the etiquette and lifestyle expected of a "well bred woman". Want to know how you should brush your hair? Eat? What color clothes to wear and when? How to upkeep a household? How to fake a happy attitude? You can read it all in that book.

And, well, if you ever forget and use your fish fork as your salad fork just remember to show some poise and chuckle it off. Wait, what is a fish fork? That is something clearly lost to the generations.

Just to note, I do not condone stealing, but I look at this little (mis)adventure like a white lie. I saved a little piece of a generation long past and it makes me feel good, almost proud. No the books weren't mine, but what good were they doing left in a fallen down house to rot?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Placement is Key

I was driving along, minding my own business and singing to the radio, when suddenly I had to stop and take a photograph of the road ahead. It was gorgeous. After a couple U-turns and confusing a woman out for her evening walk I found a place to pull over the was neither in someone's front yard or a traffic hazard. I was on a mission and had to hurry. The sun was about to set and the whole scene was going to change.

In my hurry I neglected to think about where I parked my car. After a lengthy trek to the perfect vantage point I realized something. My car was in the photo.

By the time I could walk all the way back, move my car to a location out of the photograph, and walk back to where I was the scene would have changed and be completely different. I did the best I could and with a little cropping and acceptance the photo turned out pretty nice. So what if the whole corner isn't in the photograph? Does that really make a big difference? I tell myself it doesn't. It helps me accept this as a good photo.

Is it me or am I just way too picky?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Redesigned. Again?

I know.... Maybe I just need to learn when to leave well enough alone, but I am always trying to tweak things! This blog is not immune to tweaking either, as you can tell. Rather, its a constantly evolving, almost living and breathing, thing. Until I learn how to utilize WordPress (aka. have the time to sit down and LEARN it) I will continue to screw with my blogger layout. I'm like facebook. As soon as you begin to get used to it things change and that annoys the crap out of me. So I suppose I will be hypocritical and do the same to all my websites.

Looks at all that nonsense that is my blog layout!
It was a TON of work to get TWO columns. If you are interested in setting up the same on your blog check out this tutorial

In an effort to unclutter the right side of my blog and take advantage of the empty space I moved things around. My hopes is that my page is slightly more palatable and you won't immediately click away in disgust, but if you're reading this so far you haven't...

I am curious... does this blog design fit your screen resolution? Is is pleasant to read the blog posts? Would you suggest any changes, additions, subtractions, multiplications, exponentials... you get the idea.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Do Some Good While Testing Your Smarts!

This is a great website that was shared by The Pioneer Woman on her blog today. You can test your smarts and help world hunger! You don't have to sign in or give any information. Just head straight to the site and start answering questions. As soon as you begin you'll donate 10 grains of rice for every correct answer.

It starts by offering you a vocabulary quiz. Look, I donated 10 grains already!

After only a minute or so I was already up to 100 grains of rice. The more you get correct the more difficult the questions become, likewise, if you get them wrong they become easier. There also is a wide variety of words. I was very surprised to see a word I recognized from my pharmacology class amongst them.

Miosis. I actually laughed when I saw the question. We discussed eye diseases and medications in my pharmacology class last week. My teacher would be so proud to see that I really was paying attention.

And if vocabulary isn't you're thing there are several different topics to choose from. Everything ranging from recognizing chemistry elements, basic math, and even famous paintings. I am utterly HORRIBLE at identifying famous paintings so I'll stay away from that category, but you are welcome to test it out!

You can play as long as you like and even have the website pick-up where you left off if you navigate away or close your internet browser. So instead of playing Farmville, go help world hunger and give your brain a workout! You'll feel far better about yourself. I promise.

In case you were wondering there are around 7,000 grains of rice in a cup.
So how much did you donate??

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Cycle of Mud

My drive in the morning looks like this...

Because my drive looks like that my car looks like this...

I can't even see out of my back window.
So, after two hours of scrubbing, washing, drying, and more scrubbing, because I miss spots, my car now looks like this....

Until I drive home from work in the morning and have to drive back through this...

And then the whole cycle starts over again. Its the circle of life, for Vermont anyway...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Numbers Don’t Lie… But I Wish They Did!

Girls never like cheap things. Even if they are fast, loud, and dirty things, they still can’t be cheap. So every winter, because I can’t stand being cooped up in my cabin for months on end, I try to spend every nonstudying, nonworking, snowy moment on my snowmobile, which happens to be turning into a very expensive hobby.

Every year it’s a rush, to cram in as much snowmobiling as you can while the trail gates are open. This year the trails opened on December 16th, with barely enough snow packed on the trails to be called rideable. The gates closed on the trails here in Island Pond, the ‘snowmobile capital of Vermont’ on March 9th, making this year’s riding season a meager 83 days!

As sad as a short and sudden end to a season is what is even sadder is the amount of miles I rode this year, merely 210 miles! I rode so few times this year I can count my trips on ONE hand. To put it in perspective many “hardcore” riders average well over 1000 or even 2000 miles a winter and often ride every day.

The cost for me to snowmobile for ONE year (this year)

  • · Yearly snowmobile payment: $1560
  • · Annual “early bird” VAST membership (required to be trail legal): $85
  • · Snowmobile club membership (also required to be trail legal): $10
  • · Vermont annual snowmobile registration: $12
  • · Snowmobile insurance: $279

Total annual cost for my snowmobile to be trail legal = $1946

Total snowmobiling miles this past year = 210

Cost of snowmobiling PER MILE this year = $9.27 …not including gasoline.

You can spin the numbers any way you want, but that’s still a very expensive hobby! By comparison, a Hummer averages around 10 miles per gallon. With gas at $2.85 a gallon here in my corner of Vermont that is almost 29 cents a mile. Maybe for the money I am spending I’d be better off buying a Hummer that I could use year round? Or what about a taxi? Hailing a taxi in NYC you can expect a rate of around $2.25 per mile. That still doesn't even come close!

One of our few rides out on the trails this year...

I have no idea why I have the urge to calculate numbers like these, especially when I know the results aren’t too thrilling. Shawn even refused to hear the results of my tabulations because he doesn't want a logical reason to denounce snowmobiling. After figuring it all out I don't blame him either...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Forsty? Frosty? Frosty!

One would think living in Vermont with all the snow we get that we would have built a snowman before now. Maybe its because most of our snow is usually too "fluffy" for a snowman? Not long ago we finally received a dumping of wet flaky snow that just screamed SNOWMAN! So finally, in our THIRD winter at the cabin Shawn and I ventured outside and started resurrecting Frosty.

Shawn informed me that a good foundation is the most important part of a snowman.
Duly noted...

While he worked on the base I did the fun part, rolling the giant snowballs.

I always get carried away and make them too big. So big that they are almost impossible to lift. That snowball probably weighed 100lbs. (ok... not really, but it felt like it!)

Finally assembled we basked in our success and then went inside in search of accessories to make our Frosty come to life.

Frosty, happily waving to no one, because no one drives down our road to wave back. But he didn't seem to mind. He was our first snowman at the cabin and he was awful cheery about it too.

But sadly, there must not have been much magic in the camouflaged hat because literally the next day a massive thaw set in and Frosty met his maker. Decapitated before his time. Poor guy....