Annual Summary of 2019

We stayed close to home for much of 2019. One memorable trip in February was to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the wedding of a niece. Reluctant to travel so far by auto in mid-winter, and knowing that air travel could also be canceled due to bad weather, we decided to go via reliable railroads. We were amazed when our trip was postponed by weather so cold that all travel by train through Chicago was shut down. We took the train the next day, got to the wedding on time and had a wonderful time. The return trip was through an ice storm which coated the train with a sheet of ice so we were glad we were not on the highways.

Two big pieces of cement were removed from the back yard in the Spring. These had to be broken with a chisel and sledgehammer into pieces small enough to move. It was a time-consuming project which helped Jerry get back in shape after the winter. After that we both got plenty of exercise gardening and doing other chores outside. The garden was large and kept us busy. We put on wood chips and the guy who cuts the town green delivered grass clippings and leaves right to the garden for a thick layer of mulch. This year we bought a pressure canner and used it for tomatoes, beets and some other vegetables. Our freezer filled up while pumpkins and squash went on basement shelves. We grew two kinds of beans which we dried and stored in glass jars. Especially beautiful were the Scarlet Runner bean plants whose flowers covered our deck railings and garden fence. In addition to our own garden we helped with a local "Little Free Gardens" project which grew some food for people who did not have their own gardens. Tomato Hornworms attacked the community gardens near us and Jerry helped eliminate these destructive pests.

There were a few mini-vacations with our tent to state parks and more towns were added to the ones visited as members of the Vermont 251 Club. We went canoeing and fishing and caught some delicious black bass. Bicycling on short stretches of wide roads got legs limbered up at the start of the season. Then "rail trails" gave us some workouts, including all of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail which has been completed. Closer to home were rides on two of New Hampshire's rail trails and the short one near Springfield, Vt. A pair of Baltimore Orioles made a nest on a tree within sight of our back windows. These are relatively uncommon in our area so we watched them with interest. Our local naturalist Mary Holland came to take photos and put an excellent portrait of the parents with their chick into her blog.

In the fall we collected lots of wild grapes and turned them into many jars of delicious jelly, some of which were given away as very welcome gifts. Jerry discovered several Butternut trees on town property behind our house and collected several buckets full of the nuts. He spread some to dry in the guest room upstairs but when little worms started spreading across the floor he quickly transferred the nuts to the garage. Nina spent many hours removing the outer shells. These nuts are notoriously difficult to crack so we invested in "Grandpa's Goody Getter" which brings tremendous leverage to bear. Cracking and getting out the good parts will be a long but rewarding process.

We installed two new windows, one in the bathroom and the big double window in the dining area. We mostly stayed inside when cold weather arrived. Jerry had trouble with a knee and the doctor advised keeping it elevated as much as possible. Nina knitted more than 100 pairs of mittens and contributed many to the community Christmas clothing drive. Jerry studied tax laws so he could help people fill out forms again next year.

To sum up, it was a good year and we are looking forward to 2020.