Friday, October 31, 2008

The Tree

I've been involved in lengthy discussions about this darn tree, and it actually hasn't been all pain and suffering. In fact, Marty threw us a curveball and was all nice and congenial when I expected her to tear me a new asshole. That sure complicated things. Marty reminds me of my parents, they know how to get what they want and benefit from either talking in person or getting the fact-to-face. That gives them the advantage and they know how to work the situation, and no matter how hard I try to keep some distance, they bring you into the fold.

I try to keep the correspondence via email, because I know if we see eachother, Marty will work me over like she always does, and before I know it, I'll be signing the deed of the house back over to her. That's just how it goes.

Talking with Scott has been much smoother, and I think we may have found some common ground. A key for me has been just talking honestly and sincerely about how we feel, and I hope he understands this. I think he does.

Anyway, at some point Marty will show up and again, I'm dreading it. Under other circumstances, I really like Marty, it's just that when we both want something and they don't necessarily mesh, things get sticky. I wonder what Lori would think of all this.

Either way, we'll see how this goes. I want to do what's best for everyone, but I still feel like we should decide. It's just gotta be that way.


I've been prepping the yard for Winter and getting nowhere, fast. The leaves are holding on for dear life, they won't drop on the oak trees in the back, so I know if I clear everything, in a month's time, there'll be more, but you can't plan for every contingency, you gotta do your best. So, I'll probably finish this weekend and do the garden. I put an order to John Madden for compost so I'll need to get ahold of a trailer. Enter Kurt Boland, the go to guy when you need something done. The guy's got everything.

I'm not too good with trailers, however, so this could be interesting. Maybe ugly is the operative word, here. I have this unrealistic goal of prepping the garden before we go on vacation, but that gives me only a couple of days, and I worry that when we get back the ground might be too hard, but we'll see. I'd love to just get it done. I wanted to mulch the leaves but the kids really wanted a leaf pile, so of course I complied. Now I need to run the mower over it a few times and pour it over the garden. Might have to wait on the leaves and just focus on the manure in the interest of time.

I know why hardcore Vermonters don't go anywhere, there's too much to do on the home front. Who's got time to travel?

Filled the wood box and finished painting the clapboards, for now, so at least I can get rid of the tarps and the house can look normal. Sort of.

Now we've Halloween, and then our trip. Until then, thanks for reading.

The State Is Out To Get Us

Sometimes it feels like the state is out to get us, though I have to confess that the sun always ends up peaking through the clouds, sort of. We just can't seem to get it right with the state's requirements for homeschooling. It seems like whatever I do, it's not enough, and I tear my hair out trying to figure out what they want. This process has been dragging on for quite some time, and a great deal of my frustration lies in the fact that some of this stuff is just a given, and the need for documentation seems a formality. For example, it goes without saying that kids will get some physical exercise, so why do I need to document it?

This is the sort of stuff that makes New Hampshire-ites smug with satisfaction, though their time will come. We've been going back and forth over the requirements for homeschooling and I have to keep revising our portfolio. In all fairness, the state is just trying to oversee the academic process, and it does force us to put some thought into it, which is why we're doing it in the first place, but it's frustrating when I just keep getting it wrong. Furthermore, I have no template, and dealing in generalities gets a person like me nowhere.

In the end, the office had to call me and tell me what a loser I am. That said, I give them credit for actually calling me and explaining what they want. They could have just as easily let the process drag on for as long as they pleased, which would have just frustrated me even more. And in the end, there is a reason that they have their hands in the process. And it's like Ruth says, we can whine all we want, but the state has it's expectations, and if we choose to play in their arena, we have to play by their rules. Fair enough.

The take home from all this is that it wasn't so bad, we're learning a lot (a point the state acknowledged) and it's all part of the process. Besides, it's like I said, it forces you to take the time to think about your kid's education, something most parents spend little, if any time doing. I'm grateful to Karen at the office for calling me, and I think we can get this right.

One less thing to deal with, and I'm glad for that.

Onto other state matters. Our application for the septic system got held up because it was missing one item-the water test. Luckily, we have a test from when we first moved in, so we'll submit that, but all this uncertainty makes me anxious. I don't know why, and maybe that's a good thing to examine. Why so much stress over the future, it really makes life crappy.

We've had to modify our homeschool approach in lieu of our enlightenment, but that's good, because it shakes up the system and makes you think. Also, the process of building this house is a huge learning experience in terms of how to apply for all the state permits.

So there's a bright side to all of it. We're learning. Sure, it ain't easy, but the hard lessons are the one's you never forget, and the best things in life don't come easy.

The excavator got back to us amazingly quickly for the project, and our original choice of Dave hasn't even said a peep, which of course makes me lean to the newer guys, Dan and John. Plus, they know Paul. All this money, it's crazy.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Orange Is My Favorite Color

It feels like a war zone out here, I hear gunshots all the time. They sound as if they are literally in our backyard, and we've told our kids to stay the hell out of the woods. I'm not sure when hunting season ends, but I'm sure as hell going to find out. It's a little daunting to hear the shots so close.

Life in Vermont, what are you going to do. When I go to karate, all the guys talk about is hunting. I feel like the gay friend who has yet to come out of the closet and admit that I've never hunted. That would make them want to kick my ass even more. What's interesting is how integral it is in growing up out here. All the kids look forward to bagging a deer, and they start young. That's all this country needs, more guns in the hands of kids.

The elections are coming up and I have to confess that I've focused only the president, but there are significant local elections to consider. Even though I can't vote in NH, I want to see the incumbent Senator axed, but that's another story. And that's NH.

Okay, gotta run. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Taking Care of Business

Wow, got some things done in the past day. I cleared the garden and am ready to put on compost. I'm thinking I'll do it before Winter so it can percolate until Spring, but I'm pushing my luck here. I need to get a trailer.

I've also stared on the clapboards on the front porch, and it discovered why the clapboards at Home Depot are so cheap. It's because they're glued together. What a piece of shit. It's not a big deal, they'll work, but it was a big letdown, to say the least. Not I know, and should have remembered that things that are too good to be true are just that.

Also brought in the hoses and opened up the garden, so we are on our way. Hopefully I'll be able to rake some leaves and get that ready.

Today should be a nice day so hopefully things will dry out a little. Waiting with anxiety for Marty to show up, that would really suck.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Being Neighborly

I have confess to having a dilemma. We need to move a tree on our property that was planted by the former owners when their daughter was born, and we thought the right thing to do was to contact them and let them play a role in deciding where to put it, but after some discussion and much thought, I realized that wasn't right. When we first moved in here we relied on Marty to help us with things around the house, and she was great, as was Scott. They are so capable and knowledgeable that they can answer anything you need to know.

But you begin to realize that at least Marty is having a hard time letting go, which is completely understandable, she built this house and raised her family here, it means so much to her. But she did push us hard to make the sale, and she did make it difficult on us, and besides all that stuff, she really needs to let go. By wanting to be so involved in every aspect of this house, she is making it more difficult on all of us. It's painful for her family, and it makes our lives hard because it's so awkward having her here, checking out the house to see what we've done. It's too much and makes us uncomfortable. We can't relax in our own home, and it clings to the idea that it still belongs to her.

In the end, we just felt that it wasn't quite right for Marty to choose where to put their tree on our property. Besides the fact that it keeps her invested in the house, it's our house! It just keeps promoting the process, and that just feels wrong. Gotta go with your gut.

So I did a bit of an about face and told them that rather than letting them decide where to put the tree, we'll put it near Alden's tree, in the wild flower patch. I was expecting to hear loud protests from Marty, but nothing came, another example of how this makes it suck having her in the loop. I don't want her to dictate the situation, something she is used to, but I don't want to be a dick about it, either. I'm not sure what to do, but feel I owe at least an explanation to Scott.

Man, what am I supposed to do? Part of me wonders whether Marty is keeping in touch because she wants to be a friend, she's a very nice person and we like her, but part of me also wonders if she just wants to keep tabs on the house and hopefully get it back. It's very awkward.

We'll just go with that. Somehow I get the feeling we're going to see Marty today, she tends to just show up. She likes the face-to-face confrontation, much like my mom and Liz. They just have the upper hand when they're in your presence, and work it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Adventures w/Marty

What do you do when you buy a house from someone who is not only suffering interminably from a massive case of buyer's regret, but is from a family well established in the area? We suffer from this, and I'm not sure what to make of it. We like Marty, she's an admirable woman who is going through a lot, but she really needs to move on with her life.

Whenever we see her, two things strike me. One, she can't let go of this house, and two, she is completely self-absorbed. It's almost as if your time is hers, and everything is about her. Now, this is a complicated situation, because she's not necessarily a selfish person, but she is self-absorbed. Talking to her is just an exercise in listening to her, and when you finally do get to speak, it's so obvious that she's just biding her time until you shut up.

That's all fine and well, but she can't let go of this house. I know she's got her sights set on getting it back one day, but when you really get down to it, she played hard ball during the sale. She went out of her way to make our job difficult, we did everything her way, she never bent an inch for us, and she screwed us on the tractor, without even blinking an eye.

So in lieu of all this, I have to say that I don't find this to be a very comfortable situation, and don't really want her to come around here with a watchful eye. It's too uncomfortable, and it's too painful for her. She needs to deal with this.

Either way, this is stemming from the fact that she might come by this Sunday, which is a pain in the ass because she tends to talk our ears off. She has no concept of other people's time, and I don't want to be a dick to her, but suffice it to say, when she comes over, we get nothing done. And even if we don't have plans, we'd like to hang out and relax and not have to worry about things, which we do when she's here.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Taking A Leap

I think at times I get in over my head and feel overly confident about my abilities, though I think it's a better option than feeling afraid of everything and worrying so much about doing something wrong that it forces me to inaction. That's a bit more pathetic.

I ripped up the shingles on the front of the house and now I'm pondering how exactly I'm going to repair them, because there are grout issues that need to be addressed. I found an exact match to the trim, but decided to go with something else and see where that goes. It's worth a try, but I worry that I'm going to screw everything up. What else is new?

The weather is getting cold, in the low twenties, and I'm sure glad we have a lot of wood. The season is kicking in and soon the holidays will be upon us, but first we have to focus on Halloween in Vermont, always a good time.

I'm still searching the are businesses for the right bike parts, but I'll keep at it until I find what I need.

I did manage to get the hammock down, and I started bringing up the pumpkins. The harvest seemed a bit disappointing this year, for all that we planted we should have had a bounty, and we got no sugars. Perhaps we need to fertilize more, but first we need to clear the garden and I might work on that today.

Sorry, not feeling too inspired, though there's much to say. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Things A Real Man Must Do Today

I've got to:
-clear the garden-prepare to till and fertilize
-harvest our pumpkins
-bring in the hammock
-cover the picnic table
-prepare to clapboard
-be a man


Boy, I don't know if this is usual, but it's pretty darn cold out there. Hovering in the twenties, and it's only October. They say it's going to be a cold, snowy winter, so we'll see. I'm glad we have the wood! Yesterday the cold really swept in from the north, and what started out as a mild, rainy day became windy and frigid. Amazingly enough, our stove kept us warm, and I'm beginning to wonder if it's rooted in the fact that the wood is so dry, it's just heats a lot better. Whatever be the case, it was so hot in the kitchen that I had to open a window. Pretty darn amazing.

As I mentioned, Marty came by and we told her that we needed to move Evvie's tree, but then it just seemed to fall by the wayside. I don't know if she understands the importance of this, because I do believe the septic system will happen, and when it does, that tree will need to be moved, and she needs to be the one to do it. I hate to sound so callous, but she needs to deal with it. I'm thinking of talking to Scott, instead.

Speaking of Marty, she seems to be suffering from a lifetime bout of seller's remorse. It's clear she's bummed about selling this house, and in the end, I'm not clear why she did. It's complicated by the fact that her family surrounds us, and it makes it very weird. She needs to move on, and I think the rest of her family has... sort of. At times, I think the only reason she KIT is because she still has her sights set on getting it back, and again, this makes life hard.

To top if off, I see Scott all the time.

Hunting season is in full swing, bow season, I believe, but can't say for sure. We've told the kids not to go into the woods, period, and I think that's the best course of action. It scares me, actually, but this is life in the country. My karate teacher is a big time hunter, and he chats away with the other dads about bagging dear and shooting coyotes, which I can't understand but I just keep my mouth shut.

Which I'll do now. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just Call Me Peter

We went to Britton's yesterday to get some clapboard nails and trim, and I think I may have solved my problem with the trim on the steps out front, but we'll see. Either way, Banita (sp?) kept calling me Peter. She took a careful and cautious step of faith, but when I didn't correct her, she went full swing with it, calling me Peter left and right. It was awkward, and I should have said something, but whatever. I'm sure she'll figure it out at some point.

Haven't gotten to the garden, yet, but plan on doing it this week. Until then, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Here Comes the Rain

It's raining, and it's supposed to snow, if you can believe that. I got a call from Dave Sanderson and he said he's interested in doing the septic system, so I must give him a call. I also managed to rip out all the shingles below the front porch. Hell, that was the easy part. The plywood underneath was in surprisingly good condition considering how much moisture it gets exposed to, but I had an inkling to get underneath to put on the green shit. It wasn't that simple, however, because the nails that held in the shingles wouldn't come out, and they were holding the plywood on. I got a peak beneath one, and it looked good to me, so I left it at that and nailed the nails all the way in. This shouldn't be a problem until I need to get that plywood off, and then I'll just have to rip the damn thing off.

I put ice and water shield on the plywood, even though it didn't seem to need it, and next I'll put clapboards over it and paint them. The span is wide, more than twelve feet, so I'll have to do some tweaking to get it right. Could be a nightmare in the making.

I seem to keep getting trapped with the darn hammock. I want to give it a few days of dry weather to dry out, and then I forget about it and it rains, like today. Now I have to wait for the next dry day, but I'll get it out of there. The weather hasn't been horrid, however, and I figured it still has some days left this year.

The big job I have to do is clear out the garden and get those damn pumpkins up here. I'll do that today since I can't clapboard and the wood is done. I also had an idea that I believe will make my life easier. I'm going to mow the law in late fall, when it's covered with leaves, and then pour it over the garden. Then I'll get some manure and then till the soil. Sounds like a good plan.

Actually, I checked the compost bin today and the stuff definitely looks like soil. Go figure.

Gotta run, problems with Blogger. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Local Scene

So how exactly does a guy go about pitching ideas to local papers about a column or article? The Valley News seems ripe for more content, but I don't know where to begin. I know, it has to begin with me, but again, I seem lost. Gotta step up and be a man.

I think now is great opp to write a travel blog. I don't expect to make huge amounts of money, but I'd love to just break in. Again, where to begin. I think the travel business for families is a great avenue, there's so much to know and do, and everyone loves the idea of travel. They don't necessarily do it, but they like the idea. Travel, after all, is not easy, but we feel it's an important part of our family life, not to mention homeschooling. It is interesting how many people we meet who never travel, and I understand that to some degree. These are the same people, however, who'll drop tens of thousands of dollars on a second or third car, or redo their kitchen and then complain they work too hard and never get out. They have to support their lifestyle, however.

I guess it boils down to a difference in values. We love our house and want it to show, but feel that buying and gathering stuff is not for us. We'd prefer to have life experiences and spend time together as a family, but I'm digressing big time.

It's been getting cold out here, and I'm once again glad that the wood has been relocated and stacked. Today is Nicholas' birthday so we might go ice skating, but all domestic duties will come a pause and we figure out fun things to do.

Speaking of local things, we did contradance two night ago, and it was fun. What a nice, local thing to do, very family oriented, and a great way to meet and connect with our neighbors. It is a dance, however, so you get into that awkward dancing with strangers thing, but it's very low key and there is no pressure to hook up with people, so you can manage to have fun.

The foliage is way past peak, and in the next week or so we'll be seeing a lot more brown. I'm not sure if I should start raking, but I've resolved two things - to wait until it's all down, or at least close, and to finish it before we leave in November. I need to clear the garden and turn the soil, but am not sure if I'll pull that off before we leave. There's a lot to do, and I'm still toying with the clapboards.

Gotta go and formulate my query letters. Until then, thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Preparing for Fall

If you can believe this, I finally finished moving all seven cords of wood, and as much as I love stacking the stuff, I am so done with all that. It's not so much the actual stacking that got to me but rather the notion that I had to move it AGAIN. Total bummer, but it's done, and I have to confess, it's rather impressive to look at all the wood in one big pile.

So now that that is all done, I can start focusing on raking the leaves and shutting down the garden. Ruth has done a beautiful job of clearing things, and I guess I could always go and just yank stuff out. Truth be told, our garden didn't yield as much as I had thought it would. The squash had so many blossoms, and only yielded, at most, about a dozen squash, if even that. As for the pumpkins, we got some nice big ones, but Ruth planted a bunch of small sugar pumpkins and we got none. Strange.

Either way, I'm thinking that it would be best to finish all garden/yard work before we head off for Europe, since it might be too cold once we get back. Man, I can't tell you how glad I am to get the wood pile done.

Now that Fall is here full swing, it begins yet another seasonal cycle in New England. The community dinners seem to kick in, as well as the new round of jobs and activities that need to be taken care of. The ones that seem to loom large in my mind are raking the leaves and thinking about snow tires. As I may have mentioned, I'll wait until Spring to think about chainsaws.

I've been chasing balloons a lot lately, and it's killing me. I enjoy helping Gary, but man, I don't have the time, and it really throws off my day. I will say this, however, the foliage has been spectacular, and I think Gary has been getting a lot of business at this Fall rush. I'm happy for him.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go take a look at the shingles that I want to rip out of the front. The 80 feet of clapboard that I just got is calling my name.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Whose Idea Was This?

I can't believe it, but it keeps threatening to rain, and just when all my wood if vulnerable. I've managed to relocate all seven cords of our wood, but it's sitting there uncovered out back and the original forecast called for sunny skies for a week and half, and wouldn't you know it, the clouds roll in. You just can't predict the weather, as they say. Whatever be the case, I'm hoping to get the pile covered before the deluge really hits. I've been pretty lucky thus far.

My mentor has been in need of me for the past few weeks, and it's beginning to kill me. I want to help Balloon Gary as much as possible, but it takes so much time, and time is the one thing I don't have. As much as it breaks my heart, I have to tell him no, I can't chase. I've been working a the hospital, moving wood, homeschooling, and being a domestic don while he wants me for three hours to chase, I just can't do it. The other day I went to work at 5:00, worked til 8:00, then chased for the guy after picking up the kids and hauling them along, though they have fun with it.

The barn seems to have stalled, and I believe it stems from Paul's needing to know our thoughts on some issues. Of course, we've blown him off dealing with our stuff, but we have to get on that. I like the idea of him working on it while we are away.

Todd Hill came through with flying colors, thanks Todd. We got our septic plan and now need to shop it around. Paul mentioned that the building of the barn would benefit from having the septic in, for plumbing's sake.

I still want to do the clapboards on the front, and I will try to at least get the shingles off and the ice and water shield up. There is a ton of painting on the outside that needs to be done, but again, I'm thinking it will be for next year. I still hear Jack Castle saying, show people how much you love your house, and stay on top of those windows.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I've been holed up a bit with family responsibilities and health needs, to the wood pile has been stalled, but I'm getting closer. Probably about 70% done, but I hurt my back and it's slowing things down.

The weather has been glorious, and I'm thinking I can still do the clapboards on the front of the house. There's a small section of trim that is greatly exposed to the rain, and it has shingles, which I personally think are ugly but must have been strategic. Scott and Marty didn't mess around. The work wouldn't be too hard, and it's warm enough to do some painting during the day, so I should get on it. I'd like to see under that plywood, however, but my guess is that if it ain't broke, then don't mess with it. We shall see. I'd still like to put on the clapboards, but removing all those shingles will take some time. Look at me, Mr. Assertive, as if.

The foliage is in full force, and though we love it and it's beautiful, it also means all those city folks coming up and clogging the streets. There are so many people up here, it makes it hard to drive, though you deal with it because you have to.

I gotta run and be a dad. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I need to fill out our septic paperwork, and I'm sure TH is sitting around waiting, though I'm not sure what the proper protocol even is. Either way, I also need to make the measurements that PD was asking for in the barn. Why don't I just deal with it?

I'll tell you why - because being a stay at home dad takes everything I've got, but I'm not complaining. Just trying to cover my ass.

I bought all this clapboard thinking I was going to do this massive project on the front of the house, but it's rather involved and may have to wait until next year. Same with the painting, I let it slide for too long.

I also decided that the chainsaw can wait until next year. I love the idea, but I'm not going to be cutting cords of wood anytime soon, so no need to jump on it. I figure that I can gradually gather up the safety gear over the next year and then buy the saw, but we'll see how that goes. Hate to make a huge investment all at once.

It's getting cold and I need to think about snow tires. I have to make some calls.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Nothing's Ever Finished

Not only do I have to move seven cords of wood, but now TH is telling me that I may not have to move it all, after all. He repeated what PD said about distances from the actual septic field, and I have fifteen feet to work with. Of course, how am I supposed to know where that distance is? I'll have to read his message a little more closely, but I'll still have to move some of the wood because there is no way it's going to clear the space. I kind of like where it is right now, anyway.

I went to Home Depot last night to return a mirror and found out that they have cedar clapboards for about half the price of what I've been paying. Now I don't want to support the big conglomerate, but that's a pretty substantial savings, and they're primed, which would save me time and money. I love the fresh cedar clapboards, they smell so good, but I might very well sell out and get more clapboards there, I still need to finish the front of the house, my next home improvement project. I like the idea of redoing the facade, but am wondering if I'm biting off more than I can chew. Marty was very methodical and purposeful in how she did things, and I'm wondering if there was a purpose to her design. Oh well, only one way to find out.

Fall is here, the weather is cool, the foliage is beautiful, and at some point we are going to have to clear the garden and start raking leaves. I'm not looking forward to that, but if it's cool and clear, it's always a great family event, and the kids love to dive into raking the leaves, both literally and figuratively.

But let's not rush things along. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Weather Not Cooperating

We can't seem to get a good stretch of dry, sunny days, and it really compromises my desire to get stuff done around the house. There's so much to be done, and with Fall-into-Winter fast approaching, not to mention our vacation, I'm running out of time. I'm thinking the project to replace the shingles with clapboards is a wash, I'll not have time to pull it off before Winter, but at least I have a sense of what I want to do, and that helps. I'd still like to get the ice and water shield on before Winter, but to do that I'd have to take apart the facade and wouldn't be able to put it back on and paint it in time. Then again, I could always paint the clapboards separately. Hey, that's not a bad idea, prime them and then give them a second coat in the Spring. Will have to ponder that one.

I've managed to move two cords of wood but have five more to go. People are sympathetic to our situation, but I always look at the bright side, at least we have the wood. Better to have all that wood than not, and I like to stack, anyway. It is slow going, though, especially with just a wheel barrow, but what a workout.

I went to karate the other night for the first time in awhile and it was good. I sparred with the sensei, and I got the distinct impression that he was really trying to kick my ass. There was an intensity in his eyes that scared me a little, but it forced me to up my game a little. Maybe he was showing off for Grandmaster. Either way, I think my sparring is getting better, and my sensei complemented me on the quickness of my hands. Nice to hear.

Hunting season is right around the corner and I'm not sure what to make of it all, except of course to make sure the kids stay out of the woods. It's a bit scary, actually, and the next two months will make us all a little nervous, not to mention uneasy at the sight of all those dead deer.

I have to report back to TH, and then contact GS about homeschool stuff and then talk to PD about progress reports. Hope the weather breaks for tomorrow. Until the next time, thanks for reading.