Monday, February 11, 2008

December 2007/Merry Christmas!

I tell you what! We moved up here the year that Monroe decided to suspend it's driveway-plowing program, and New Hampshire has its snowiest December on record in the last 100 years! Something about Murphy's Law . . . In fact, on Sunday, December 16, we tried to go to church, but turned around after we missed the ramp onto I-91 because we couldn't see it for all the snow! (Church ended up being cancelled early, anyway.) However, Hannah enjoyed our late afternoon rambles to the school playground to the let the dogs run around and get a little fresh air. She seems relatively unaffected by the cold. Garry and I have lived in our long johns since Thanksgiving.

Hannah played the Christmas band concert at Town Hall on December 8th. Garry and I joined our neighbors, Michelle and Jim Borgman, for dinner that evening. M & J had actually tried to buy our house several years ago, but the Burtons got it, so M & J moved into another, nearly identical house down the street a few months later. They had us and our next-door neighbors, Mike & Darlene Valcourt, over for homemade soups and bread. We left their house about 6:30 to walk down to the Town Hall for the concert. The trees in their yard were lighted, and provided a festive air for passersby. Most people here do not put lights on their homes, however. I learned the why of that the first time all the icicles that had built up along the roofline crashed to the ground. Had we had any lights up, they would have been toast. Our flagpole became a victim before the year was out.
The concert was great fun, and featured not only the band, but a local acappella group who call themselved The Mellowtones. We also heard from our local bluegrass group, The Back Shed String Band. They are wonderful! It was a great evening, except for one little mishap. A little boy sitting a short way from our seats became quite excited and hot. This resulted in the reappearance of his dinner, accompanied by a most unpleasant odor. His poor mother was trying valiantly to clean up the mess with a few paper towels from the restroom. Garry suggested that I fetch some cleaner from our house, so I ran next door and brought back bleach spray and good paper towels, for which the mother was grateful. Unfortunately, she didn't understand that it was our personal bleach, and she put it in the cleaning closet downstairs. We decided to leave it there as our contibution to the town for future use. There will probably be a need, as every conceivable event you could think of is held in the Town Hall.

Duncan Valcourt, our neighbors' dog, was dressed for the holidays, and went about spreading good cheer (among other things). Alyce just worships the ground he walks on, but Isabelle thinks he is very bourgeois, and gives him what-for as often as she can. Hannah went on a field trip to NYC with the 7th and 8th grades during the second week in December. She did not have as much fun as she had hoped, and would like to go back with just the family next time. It's difficult traveling with moody teenagers. I had volunteered to chaperone, but was told they already had enough. Thank goodness! Michael had finals and finished up his first semester of high school before a 3 week Christmas break.

I finished up the Christmas decorating the day before Christmas, and we celebrated quietly at home. The kids got mostly stuff they wanted, and a few surprises, including flights to Texas in February, during their Winter Break.

December ended warmly, in spite of the snow, and once we passed the 21st, the days began to get longer again. We are looking forward to 2008, and new adventures in the North Country!

November 2007

I tell you what! When the cold weather arrives, it arrives! It's cold, and it's here to stay. We had our first hard freeze on Halloween - 6 weeks late! Thank goodness for global warming. ha/ha. As I told you in October, Michael enjoyed his trip to NYC. He's pictured below with his friends at the U.N.

Although it began to be quite cold and the leaves started dropping, we did not get any snow until November 16, and it melted almost immediately. In fact, when friends and family called from Big Spring over the Thanksgiving holiday to tell us all about the 8" of snow, we had none! The days were getting shorter and shorter, however, and it was getting dark about 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon. This was difficult because as soon as it got dark, we all wanted to go to bed! And of course, it was a bit early. So we went to see a few plays and films to pass the dark evenings, and the kids had plenty of homework. Garry went to Big Spring on 11/14 to check on the house, get a haircut, etc. He also shipped two of our cats, Cookie and BunBun, to me (in Boston). These are the two who didn't make it with the cat shipping service back in August, so my mom had been feeding them for 2 months. Michael and Hannah and I spent a weekend in the Boston area, attending a church function and doing a bit of shopping. I met the cats at Logan Airport and we all went home. Only 4 days later, I put the cats out in the early afternoon, and BunBun disappeared. We put signs and notices out everywhere, but no one had seen her. We were very depressed about losing her, especially Garry, since she is really his cat.

Earlier in the month, however, we enjoyed taking the dogs for walks and playing in the leaves (like Hannah and Alyce in McIndoe Falls, above), and spending some time outdoors in the afternoons. We spent Thanksgiving with some friends from church. The Spence contribution was a ham from the North Country Smokehouse in Claremont, NH. They have the best bacon, ham, and maple mustard we've ever eaten. H.E.B.'s Central Market is supposed to be carrying some of their products - we can highly recommend them. The day after T-giving, we attended the Christmas parade in Littleton with friends, and went to a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial in Sharon, VT, on Saturday. The following Monday, I started dragging out all the Christmas stuff, looking for places to put it all. I wasn't completely successful, but it still looked like Christmas at our house before the big day.

The Connecticut River began to freeze over late in the month, and we saw turkey flocks foraging in the fields around town. (They made themselves scarce before the feast day - I guess they've gotten pretty smart over the years!) Hannah was drafted to play in the McClure Alumni Band, a local group which gives concerts throughout the year. We live next door to the Town Hall, and Garry heard music coming from there one afternoon, and noticed that Hannah's Sunday School teacher's car was parked out front. He told Hannah, who went over to investigate. Her teacher, who plays coronet, said, "Hey, Hannah, don't you play an instrument?", and she was recruited to play bells on the spot. The band is named for George McClure, who toured small NH and VT villages to teach band at their little schools once a week. He gathered the especially talented kids together to form a band and took them all over New England during the summers for concerts. Most of his alumni are in their mid-fifties or older, and Mr. McClure has passed away, but the band plays on.

The month closed with a bit of snow to put us in the mood for Christmas.

Friday, February 8, 2008

October 2007

I tell you what! New England is surely beautiful in the fall. God does this, I'm sure, so that people will continue to live here, and not inundate Texas and the Southwest with Yankees. We did go to Santa’s Village, but not with the Cochran kids. Instead, Hannah took Rebecca, and Michael decided he was too old to go. On the way, we stopped at an auction in Lancaster, and Garry picked up some memorabilia from one of our favorite movies, “The Rocketeer”. I got a couple of nifty wooden folding chairs, made in Maine. Hannah and Rebecca found a chipmunk eating ornamental corn on the sign at the entrance.

In October, we enjoyed beautiful weather, and Garry & I took every advantage of being outside on his days off. Randy and Donna Amonett, friends from Big Spring, came up the 2nd week in October and joined us for dinner at the Sunset Hill House, one of our favorite restaurants. They, too, have a house here, farther north. It was very nice to see them again.

Garry had a lot of photo opportunities around Monroe during this gorgeous season. We had the camera with us everywhere we went. We attended a couple of auctions at Alumni Hall in Haverhill, NH, and purchased a couple of neat items. Our prize was a 96” church bench with the numbers (assigned seats!) still stenciled on. We also ate at Polly’s for the last time, as it is closed for the season from late October until late May. We often took the dogs for walks to the Monroe Cemetery, and we also found a field in McIndoe Falls, VT, down a dirt road and over a wooden bridge behind the town building.

Hannah played soccer – her favorite sport – and had a good time. Her team, the Monroe Mustangs, are blue and gold, and have one of the prettiest soccer fields we've ever seen. We got to see many school campuses around NH and Vermont, the most interesting of which was in Lunenburg, VT, which had a cemetery next to the soccer field. Hannah also attended her first school dance, as did Garry and I, as chaperones.

Michael also attended a dance at the Academy, during LI weekend. St. Johnsbury Academy and Lyndon Institute celebrated their 103rd rivalry football game during “LI Weekend”, which is celebrated with pep chapels, a parade, themed dress up days, a bonfire and BBQ, the game and a dance. Unfortunately, Michael got soaked to the skin on game day, only to watch SJA defeated by LI 10 – 7 in the last 3 minutes. The weekend before, he was invited to travel to NYC with a friend from school. Adrian is a boarding student from Hong Kong, whose American guardians live in Connecticut and work in New York. Michael and Adrian and another friend from Hong Kong flew from Burlington, VT to JFK, where Lanelle picked them up and took them to her house for the weekend. She took them into the city a few times for trips to museums, the UN Building, Times Square, etc. Michael spent all his spending money at the Apple Store in SoHo, and on a hotdog from a street vendor. He had a really fun time, hangin' in the Big Apple "on his own" (Lanelle was there, but not Mom or Dad. Cool.) I furiously painted a couple of rooms, and we spent a few days raking leaves off the lawn. We missed the West Texas wind to just blow them away! ha/ha

The photos above feature the dining room, our "dooryard", Christy, Amanda, Rebecca, Hannah and Melissa on our new bench before the dance, and Hannah and me and Izzy and Al heading down the hill to the McIndoe Falls bridge. We must have blueberry soda from Paul's Whistlestop!