Thursday, January 16, 2020

Sadly, I am reporting that Rachel Lewis (Sandy Beach Road) passed away recently. I didn't know Rachel well, but the few times I met her she was very gracious. She had a home at Joe's Pond for quite a long time, and I know she loved being here. I know she had many friends here and she will be missed. Those of you who may wish to send condolences can do so through the Knight Funeral Home.

January 9, 2020
We have experienced a lot of weather during the past week. We now have some of our snow back that was lost during the unusually warm, rainy weather this past weekend. Gretchen Farnsworth (Sandy Beach Road) sent these pictures of the pond that show at least some of the weather changes we've had in the past seven days. After today's snow, we are seeing the temperature plummet - it's 13.5F which is about two degrees lower than it was when I first came in to check my email about half an hour ago. It's going
January 12, 2020
down fast and going to hit single numbers, for sure (hopefully above zero, but below zero wouldn't surprise me). There will be wind chill to deal with tomorrow and more snow this weekend, with even colder temperatures that are going to stay with us for a while, according to the forecast.

We had snow squalls and nasty driving conditions today. We had to go to Berlin for my eye shots this morning. My
January 16, 2020
 appointment was at 9:30, so we wisely decided to leave at 8:30. We were there in plenty of time, but we were glad we left earlier than normal. Traffic was moving well, but slowly, and when driving is like it was today, I'm more than happy to poke. The plows were out, but having a hard time keeping up with the snow falling. There was some wind, too, and that was sending clouds of snow off the overloaded trees. It was really pretty, but I didn't get to enjoy the scenery much - I felt I'd better tend to my driving. On the way home, Fred drove (after the shots, I don't think it would be a good idea for me to drive) and it was much better until we got just this side of Marshfield village. As we climbed the hill coming out of Marshfield, we were right back into winter again. Joe's Pond really is a separate world.

Every now and then someone asks me why it is that when Fred and I go some place I often drive. The answer goes back to when we were commuting to Montpelier to work every day. We know that often women let their husbands do the driving, especially if the weather is foul. However, Fred always stressed that it was important for me to drive in all sorts of conditions, just as it was for him, so we always took turns. Whoever drove to Montpelier in the morning was the passenger on the way home. Over the years, we've pretty much stuck to that system, and it works out very well. I know some husbands are not comfortable when their wives are driving - and all I can say is that if they let her drive more often, she would gain confidence; or, he might find out she's a heck of a lot better driver than he thought. On the other hand, it might not work at all for some couples . . . !

Many thanks to Gretchen Farnsworth for these pictures of Joe's Pond in winter.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

It's getting late,  but I wanted to let those of you who are not here at Joe's Pond know that our January thaw is over, at least for the moment. The weather is being very strange this year, but I've heard from lots of others in various parts of the country expressing the same comments. I heard from Karen Cobb earlier this week and they have had snow one day and nearly 70 degrees the next where they are in Virginia. Butch and Susan Bouchard are heading to the southwest to get away from New England weather for a while. We heard from relatives in Florida today and weather has been pretty nice there after a rocky start earlier in the winter.

We're in for some cold and snowy weather by the end of the week, but nothing really unusual for January. We had just a skimming of snow last night - it was hardly enough to measure this morning. We were at Don and Diane Sherwood's last evening for dinner and although Old Homestead road is a bit on the slippery side, it is well plowed and we had no trouble at all. 

We had a very nice evening with Don and Diane. Diane Rossi went over with us and Tom Beattie and John Dauteuil were there. I see John from time to time at the Danville Historical Society where his is doing accessions - a very important task and one that has been neglected for a while. John is making a big dent in the boxes and stacks of papers and photos that have been donated. Now people going there to search for relatives or events will be able to find whatever there is in the collections.

We hadn't seen Tom for a while and it was great to see him doing so much better. It's been a long road back for him, but he's made very good progress. We had a great meal (Diane is a really good cook) and fun conversation. Anyone who knows Don knows conversation never gets dull when he's around. It was really good to see everyone. We haven't seen many Joe's Pond folks recently - we missed out on a Christmas gathering at the Crosby's early in December because we were both coming down with something, and although we see our neighbors walking by from time to time and sometimes bump into them as we are coming or going, we haven't been very social so far this winter. By choice, really, since I'm working on the book and Fred has been taking a computer course, so we are both kept very busy. There are always the usual doctor appointments and meetings, but they don't count as something enjoyable, so it was especially nice to just be with friends last night.

I had intended to take some ham and cheese roll-ups to Diane's for appetizers. I had some phyllo sheets in the freezer and had taken them out the night before - didn't bother to check the date on them, and when I started to unroll the dough, it was like shredded paper. Completely dried out and useless. I tried to recover a few sheets by covering them with a damp towel, and was successful in getting a few rolled up and baked. But when I tried one, it was really bad. Not the buttery, cheese and ham morsel I'd hoped for, but fortunately, I had subconsciously anticipated such a disaster (I've learned over the years!) and had fresh crackers and Cabot cheese on hand - just in case.

I threw the phyllo stuff out. I do hate to throw anything away, and Fred constantly reminds me about checking dates on whatever is in our cupboards. I should have paid attention. I have a mindset left over from my childhood when my mother used to can most of our food - filling Ball glass jars - the kind with red rubber gaskets that formed the seal between the jar and the cover - with fruit, vegetables and meat every year to last us through the winter. Everything went into a hot water bath and got the air expelled and was tightly sealed. Sometimes, if it didn't seal quite right, the food would spoil, but the rule we went by was that if it didn't hiss at you when you opened the jar, it was ok. I know that rule worked well for store-bought canned goods, too. Occasionally we'd open something that would hiss as soon as a hole was punched to begin opening it. Or if the ends of the can were rounded instead of flat, that was a distinct warning it had gone bad. Best to handle those cans with extreme care - there was a lot of pressure in there!

I didn't make any New Years Resolutions, but I think I will make at least two belatedly: to be sure to use items up before the expiration dates, and also to always date packages of leftovers I'm putting into the freezer. Maybe another would be to not try to save every single little bit of anything leftover. Either eat it right away or toss it.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The big storm - rain, freezing rain, sleet, etc. - really didn't impact us much at all. I can't say for sure, but I don't believe there was any icing going on in our area. The roads were certainly slippery in some places, especially our back roads, but nothing on trees to weigh them down, and fewer power outages than were expected. We did not lose power even though there was quite a lot of wind. We did lose a lot of snow, however. Our driveway is now free of
snow and there was water on top of the ice on the pond early this morning. I expect it has all frozen over tonight - our above-freezing temperatures are a thing of the past and tonight I'm seeing 18.4F on my weather station. There was .82 in. of precipitation in the measuring tube this morning, and that wasn't as much rain as expected. All good news.

Some of you may be interested that Cabot is one of the towns that is negotiation to try to get high-speed internet service. The following notice was posted on Front Porch Forum today by Andrew Gilbert:
This is a reminder to help CVFiber in planning for high speed internet! CVFiber is charged with building a high speed internet solution in 18 Central Vermont communities.
We have received three grants to help get the planning completed. We have just hired a consultant to conduct a feasibility study and develop a business plan. One task they will be completing is prioritizing areas in the 18 communities for initial deployment of fiber broadband.
Having input from each community is critical to the planning process. And it goes without saying that response rates by community could potentially impact prioritization decisions.
Cabot is currently 6th or so in responses, at around 7%. And while it's not a competition per se, having every community as close as possible to 10% or even 20% will help tremendously in planning. And 3 other towns have met that mark (greater than 10%). Again, you can find the survey at There are also paper copies with the town clerk or you can email me at
The window for responding is closing as we are beginning feasibility work. The deadline is January 24th!!

I'm not sure how this will play out, but I know lots of folks, us included, would love to have better internet service. Ours is really pretty good compared to what it used to be, but it could be better. Like everything these days, there's always newer, better technology available - usually right after you've just purchased the "latest, most up-to-date" gadget available. Actually, Fred and I don't have a lot of "gadgets" - unless you count the wildlife camera out back and the motion detector lights inside and out. We were remembering recently that we were one of the last around to get a microwave oven; now I'd be lost without it. But we still don't have smart phones, and it's a painful re-learning process every time need to use my laptop. Fred uses his all the time - building websites or whatever, but for me, there's nothing like my nice big-screen desktop where I can have documents open on a split screen and still read them comfortably - I do that all the time - and I have at least half a dozen documents open at once, easily juggling between them. I NEED that on a daily basis, and it's just not that convenient on the smaller screen of my laptop. Besides, I like my chair and my cluttered desk and stiffed files and bookcases (yes, even with the internet, I still use actual books for reference occasionally!)

However, today I realized I'd misplaced a whole chapter of the West Danville book. I found it easily, but it wasn't where I thought it was and turns out, I never finished it. I thought it had been edited long ago. Today I began re-reading it to be sure everything is in place before I send it off to our editor, but there's a big problem with reading it because every time I do, I change something. That usually has sort of a domino effect  and I end up rewriting whole sections. I'm hoping that won't happen as I proceed through this chapter, but there are no guarantees. Once it's actually on it's way to the editor, I can get back to finishing off the final chapter that I've been working on most recently. It is all coming together, but sometimes I wonder if there is some mysterious force working on prolonging this project. In spite of setbacks, we mush on!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

I can't complain about the cold today, for sure. It's about 43 degrees this morning and looks like any minute we may get that rain they forecast. I was thinking about the winter rains we used to get when I was a kid - the ones that left a hard, shiny crust on the snow. We loved that. There was a sloping bank at the end of our house on Cabot Plain that was a great sliding place. We didn't use sleds - those were better suited to the unsanded roads. Instead, we used big sheets of cardboard. Any cardboard box would do, but we liked the pieces large enough so we could grab onto either side so it wouldn't slip out from under us. The cardboard lasted surprisingly well.

I remember once taking my mother's big wooden burl bowl out. It was about 24 inches across and she used it to chop vegetables in to make pickle relish. I expect she didn't know I had it and no doubt would have objected, but it didn't work very well for me. It was fun sitting in it scooting sideways and twirling around down the hill, but it was heavy and I got tired of carrying it back up after each ride. There was no place to attach a rope, so I had to carry it. Sometimes we got out the toboggan, but that was more fun after a few inches of snow covered the crust so when we hit a dip or little drift, snow came flying back at us as we careened down the hill. Great fun, and although we sometimes took a spill, but nobody got seriously hurt. We were all tired at the end of the day.

I've enjoyed a good firm crust on the snow in more recent years, too. Especially when there is a lot of snow on the ground - then a crust makes snowshoe travel a lot easier. There have been times when we could walk just about anywhere, in the woods or in the open, without breaking through, and that is a joy for getting around in the woods. I remember being out in the woods years ago and meeting our neighbor, Don Encarnacion. He was working on his wood lot or something, and Fred and I happened to be up on our lot above him. He hailed us and wanted to show us something that required him to go into the woods with us. Don was short, and wherever we were was protected enough so the crust didn't hold us up well. Fred and I managed pretty well, but when Don broke through, his legs were short enough so he didn't really touch solid ground. It was a really bad situation for him, and we tried to "break trail" for him to make it easier, but it was still hard for him. We cut that expedition short and decided to inspect whatever Don wanted to show us another time. After we were all on solid ground again, we went our separate ways. We were all wet and tired from wallowing in the soft snow. There's nothing more frustrating than walking along on solid crust and suddenly one foot breaks through and goes deep into the snow. I call it getting cast. Not quite the same as a horse cast in its stall, but close enough.

I remember breaking through one time in the woods when we were snowshoeing. I went over a hummock that turned out to be snow piled over a big fallen tree. My snowshoes both went into a deep hole and were wedged among tree branches. Fred was some distance away from me and came back to help, but he had to be careful to not get into the same predicament as he hauled me out of the hole. It took some time to untangle the snowshoes so I was able to lift my feet up out of the hole and roll away. It would have been easier if I hadn't been laughing so hard. It was a silly situation, but if I'd been alone, it could have been pretty serious. I suppose I could have eventually worked my way out, but it would not have been easy. We haven't been snowshoeing for several years. Maybe this will be the year! It's always great to get up into our woods to see what's changed.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Brrrrrr. It's cold!! We had a minus 6 degrees last night - not earth shattering for January at Joe's Pond, but after the stretch of relatively normal 20s and 30s, it felt cold. We had a blustery day yesterday. Fred had an appointment yesterday afternoon in the Barre/Montpelier area, so we headed out right after lunch in relatively calm weather, even a little sunshine as we cruised through Marshfield and Plainfield. However, all that deteriorated and when we headed home at around 3 o'clock, we had snow squalls that slowed traffic somewhat, but the road didn't seem to be really bad. The temperature was already beginning to drop, and it was no surprise to find it several degrees colder as we proceeded east and climbed out of Marshfield towards Joe's Pond. When we got to East Cabot, going up the hill from where the new construction took place, there was a tractor trailer with an empty flat-bed down over the bank and blocking the west bound lane. I guess he couldn't make the hill and began sliding - or he could have lost control on the way down - hard to tell. Other than that one incident, traffic was moving very well in spite of the snow-covered road, snow squalls and plummeting temperature. Once safely home, the snow squalls got even worse and with the wind whipping snow off the trees, visibility was zero for a few minutes.

I have been having an interesting email conversation with a former Cabot resident who recently purchased a copy of the Cabot oral history book, and in doing some research for him, I was reminded of what a great resource we had in the Contact monthly newsletter that Rev. Nickerson, the minister in Cabot during the 1940s initiated. I've mentioned that here before, I know, but even though I read every one and quoted huge amounts from them for the chapter on WWII, I found myself re-reading some of the letters from Cabot servicemen (there were also two or three women in the service, but I think they signed up in later years and weren't overseas) serving in both theaters of war.

I remember when the Cabot book was first published, we heard from several younger members of families who had someone in the armed services, saying they found information there they never knew about. The men apparently wrote in letters home or to Rev. Nickerson about experiences they simply didn't talk about once they were back home. Cabot was unique, I think, having that newsletter. I remember that Rev. Nickerson included men from Marshfield on his mailing list. He said they were such close neighbors he couldn't exclude them. The same might have been said about men who served from West Danville; however, West Danville/Danville never had the same closeness Cabot and Marshfield had, for some reason.

In writing this history of West Danville, we did not find much information about young men and women who served in the wars. The community certainly contributed its share - those who served in various wars and returned, and those who served but didn't return home. Unfortunately there was nothing comparable to Cabot's Contact for information about them. Their service was no less respected or valued; it was simply not documented in the same way.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

We gained another three inches or so of snow yesterday and last night. It's blustery outside today, but the sun has broken through a little, fighting its way through the blowing snow. A couple weeks ago I brought in a pot of tulip bulbs that had been sitting in the garage since they died back last spring. I'd watered them and kind of forgot about them sitting on a table in the basement. This morning I noticed there are several nice green sprouts there, so I brought them upstairs. The warmth and light should bring them out soon - and we'll have a hint of spring during the dreary days of January and February. If all goes well, that is. 

Actually, our winter is just getting started. Shelly Walker sent me the following yesterday:

The fishing activity is picking up on the bay.  This morning there were 2 wooden shanties on the ice, 2 tents, and several groups fishing and dragging their sleds over the ice.  All seem to be setting up on the opposite shore, from the access area to about Precourts.   Last night I got up about 3 AM and there was a very bright light shining at my house.  The source was across the bay, so I doubt they were specifically targeting my house.

Who knows what was going on in the wee hours of the morning? Someone wanting to get an early start on fishing, perhaps. Perhaps Vermont Fish & Game? Nah, probably not!

Here's something I found really interesting. There is a "Magnum P. I." marathon on one of the Hallmark channels starting tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern time, 9 Central time.  These are the original series, and should be great fun to watch. We are recording them - 24 in all. We probably won't watch all of them, but some were really fun shows and it will be nice to see a young Tom Selleck (loved those short shorts!) and John Hillerman - plus all the other characters in their prime. I never warmed up to the new version of Magnum.  

Drive carefully and watch your step. There's ice hidden under this beautiful coating of snow!

Saturday, January 04, 2020

I've had an interesting conversation today with a former Cabot resident who bought one of the Cabot oral history books on line. Turns out he's about the same age as a couple of my cousins and he even shared an apartment with one while attending UVM back in the day. He left the area and now wants to read the book we published back in 1999. I'm sure he will find several of his relatives in the book. There were over 100 interviews done for that book, so it covers a lot of the people who were living there at that time, and those who came before them.

After I was through chatting on line with him (I'll call him "Zeke" as that's the name he went by when in college, he told me) I went to the Times Argus web site and learned that his aunt, Dot Therrien, passed away this week. I was very sorry to hear that. Dot was a friend and neighbor when she and her late husband, Russ, lived in Cabot. They lived in East Cabot, not far from the Goodrich Maple Farm. Zeke told me his mother is still living, and that was interesting. I remember her a little - she was a couple of years behind me in high school, but the school was small enough so we knew just about everyone. Also, all classes shared playing basketball, music classes and acting in school plays, etc., as there were usually not enough students in any one class to manage any of those programs or events without borrowing personnel from other classes. It was fun, and although I never thought about it at the time, it really was four very interesting years of my life.

I completed going through Jennie Hastings' diaries today - at least the ones Dot gave to me. She may have more that will need to be sorted through. I think I've done 12 years so far. Her life, especially while her husband, Gilbert, was alive, was very busy and unlike some diaries I've read, Jennie reported only the basics - the weather, illnesses, and deaths were covered briefly, but she tended to exclaim over things like picnics, birthday or anniversary parties, going to the "pictures," and later, getting a "T.V." set in. I don't know why he always used periods when writing TV . . . and then there was the year she went to St. Johnsbury and purchased "a white sink for the kitchen." After it had been installed, she wrote, "Am I going to like that!" Since our chapters have mostly been through the first edit, it's going to be hard to include much from her diaries. Jane (Larrabee) gave them to us this fall - I guess she hadn't been able to locate them earlier.
Jennie and Gilbert were definitely prominent in West Danville for  at least six decades, and a great example of the life style during those years. I'm still working on a way to include as much of that as possible.

In the meantime, we're getting a nice coating of new snow and skiers and boarders will be very happy. I think even the snowmobile trails should be in good shape after this storm. Hopefully, there won't be a switch to rain to wash it all away!

Sadly, I am reporting that Rachel Lewis (Sandy Beach Road) passed away recently. I didn't know Rachel well, but the few times I met her...