Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Bit More on the Red Clover Inn

We're home from our week of wandering north of here and I have had a chance to yank photos from the trip off my camera. Many are of the Red Clover Inn, which we felt we helped pioneer this past week with our friends Andy and Lynn and our collections of daughters.

That's the main Inn building to the right there. Andy and Lynn and their girls had rooms in the main building. Karen and I stayed in a large room in a separate carriage house. Colleen and Christina were in the carriage house as well. Their room was above a dedicated room where our old friend Andrea, a massage therapist we visited for years at The Tyler Place, has begun to create a new spa.

The Red Clover Inn is an old Inn that was built on an even older farm. It served vacationers for many years and developed a strong reputation. The owners turned their Inn over to new managers and retired some years ago and the place seems to have declined. In the last year, the owners sold the property to the Tyler family who spent eight months fixing and mending and redecorating; they created a lovely new/old Inn which reopened just a few weeks ago.

A major attraction of the Inn is a wonderful restaurant that integrates gently into the main building. The Tylers found a great chef and he has put together a tasty menu that features local ingredients and sustainable foods. The restaurant seems to do a steady business beyond the Inn guests; that's a good thing.

There is also a comfortable lounge, with a fireplace and sofas and chairs and games and windows overlooking the property. A comfortable spot after a day of skiing or hiking or golfing or which-ever of the attractions of this part of Vermont you choose to enjoy.

The guest rooms vary from spacious and elegant to small and cozy. Several have fireplaces. Some feature hot-tubs (fabulous for aching old-guy muscles that hadn't been on skis in 30 years).

Am I gushing? yes, I am. But with good reason. The Tyler family are great inn-keepers and they find and support high-level employees. We've spent the last decade getting to know these folks. They give us vacations to celebrate and I think it is only right that I pass on to you information about those vacation opportunities.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ski Report (Sorta)

We're in Mendon Vermont for a few days on a mini winter vacation. We're staying at the Red Clover Inn, an old inn that has been taken over by our friends who run The Tyler Place.

As I've noted before, we outgrew the Tyler Place and were sad to leave it behind. When we heard that the Tylers had bought and fixed up an Inn in Southern Vermont we decided we had to give it a try. Our friends the Southmayds (who led us to the Tyler Place in the first place) were interested as well.

The Red Clover Inn is a cool place. It has location and an elderly charm. The folks from the Tyler Place (family and long-time employees) have spent the fall putting a high gloss on the place. They've created a warm, friendly, luxurious Inn.

And we've spent parts of the last two days at the Killington ski resort. Karen has skied before, but only a few times and long ago. Neither of our girls had ever tried it. I skied all through high school, but stopped when I entered college, almost 30 years ago.

We took a family/group ski lesson yesterday. I learned that I can still ski. The girls learned that skiing is tough. Today we took a snow boarding lesson. I learned that I prefer to ski. The girls found that, though snow boarding is tough, they prefer it to skiing.

We're all bruised and battered. Colleen's nursing a sprained (I hope just sprained) wrist. We all have bruised knees. I may have sprained a rib. Fun times.

After the lesson, I traded back to skis and did some more traditional ski runs. It turns out that skiing is like riding a bike. I can still do the basic moves, but my legs at 46 are nowehere near what they were at 16 and 17 years old.

Now we're relaxing, trying to find a low-impact dinner choice, and thinking about our long drive back south tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Convergence: Puppies and Kitties

The first thing to say is that one reads these messages from bottom to top. This is a screen capture from Twitter today; a look at a moment of tweeting by two of the people I follow. They are not talking to each other; they are both entering messages and I happen to be listening to both of them.

dacagle is a cartoonist with MSNBC. thatselbert is a blogger from southwest Sussex County here in Delaware. dcagle was posting some cartoons that involved puppies and kittens and was tracking reader reactions. That led him to declare a theorem about the web: people love kitties and puppies and the web delivers. And, right on cue, thatselbert delivered a cute kitty picture.

I love the Internet.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Old Folks at Home Work

I spend five days a week in an office in downtown Dover, working for the people of the state of Delaware and with some truly nice folks. I generally don't write about my job here; but now I want to make an exception. Instead of leaving cards on co-worker's desks this Christmas, I want to share some thoughts about those co-workers.

Connie Holland, the State Planning Coordinator, is my boss. Connie brought a determined "nice" to our office eight years ago when Gov. Minner appointed her to the job. We'd known Connie for many years as the Planning Director for Kent County. Her extensive experience in county government was a great help. Connie reminds us every day that whatever the issue or beef, we're all just folks. And Connie likes folks. It's catching.

Dorothy Morris joined the office shortly before I did more than ten years ago. Technically, she was an administrative staffer, but she's always been more than that. Dorothy is one of those "hold the whole thing together" types. She knows how to manage things and brings that knowledge to an office or a home. As a result, she has risen to the position of Planner and has taken on management of the PLUS process. She has taught herself to use GIS, taking over much of the technical work I had been doing and freeing me up to try other new things. One of the great joys of my professional life has been gossiping about everything from world events to raising teenagers with Dorothy.

When Dorothy and I arrived we found Herb Inden there before us. He was there when the Office of State Planning Coordination was re-created, helping Dave Hugg pull the thing together. Herb worked in City Planning in Wilmington and adds an urban view to things. He's like an older brother; funny, warm and a voice of experience.

Bryan Hall is our newest staff member. Bryan is a former forester who now works with county and municipal governments in Sussex. Bryan is a breath of pine-fresh air. He's a brusque, out-doorsy type who cuts right to the heart of matters and greets almost all challenges with a laugh. He's a little goofy, which I like.

Diane Dukes I have known longer than I've worked in the planning office. She starred in a Possum Point Players production of Wait Until Dark that I had a part in back in 1988. Then she worked at DNREC for a while when I was there. Then one day, she came to help us out with graphics and publications. Diane is good, I've learned a lot from her about making things readable and visually interesting. And we share an appreciation for what's twisted about the world around us.

Laura Simmons is also a recent(ish) addition to our office. She brings an understanding of politics and the people of Delaware government and has taught me how to start to see beyond the surface of what's happening. She has also jumped-in to learn GIS and take on some of the tasks I had been covering. In fact, she insists on learning new things. I respect that. And Laura has become my good friend. We share stories of our kids and our parenting challenges. And she and Dorothy are my sounding board for ideas for gifts for the Lovely Karen.

I've saved David Edgell for last. I wanted to book-end this list with Connie, who leads us, and Dave, who will be a leader some day. I tease him (it annoys him) that he'll be Governor some day. Dave doesn't seem to want the job, but I'd trust him with it. He is smart, steady, and mature beyond his years. And he has a sense of humor. I love to bounce ideas back and forth with David. His training and experience are very different from, but somehow complimentary to mine. I'm going to enjoy watching his career; I hope to stay near him.

These are some of the the people I spend my days with. They are my work family; the people I come back to after visiting friends and colleagues at many other agencies. I'm blessed to have gotten to know federal, state, county and local government people from all over. My work life is fascinating and wide ranging. I'm glad to have Connie, Dorothy, Herb, Bryan, Diane, Laura, and David to ground me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

Today begins the Festival of Lights, an eight-day celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the Second Century during a revolt against Greek rule by a Hebrew commander called Judah Maccabee. (Hat tip to wikipedia).

Matt Haughey has posted a link to a fun song for the holiday. One that places it nicely in a modern context.

I grew up in an area that had a healthy mix of faiths. I was raised a Catholic but a great many of my friends were Jewish (and some were Hindu and some Muslim, but that is a post for other holidays). We were aware of and took pleasure in each other's holidays. There was no "War on Christmas." There a universal respect for our various cultures. And there was occasional jealousy over gift-getting traditions, but that was minor.

For a full primer on Hanukkah, I strongly recommend "A Rugrats Chanukah," which tells the story of the Maccabean revolt through the imaginations of Tommy, Chucky, Angelica, and Phil'n'Lil. Watching The Rugrats was an added bonus for me during the time of small children, and this retelling of the Hanukkah story contains one of my favorite Rugrats moments: when Tommy emerges from a cave, dressed as one of the Maccabees, and declares, "A macca-baby's gotta do what a macca-baby's gotta do!"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Twitter-Enabled Life

The Wizard of Oz is is playing this evening on TNT. It is a family favorite and worth re-watching, if not too frequently.

As we watch, I am scanning the web, as one does, and find, via Twitter, that Civil3Diva is also watching. I know Dana from my professional life; she's a CAD designer and her mind went right to the practical land-use design aspects:
just noticed that the yellow brick road has straight faced curb (no gutter). Looks like 5' lane width.
My mind, being rather less disciplined, asked:
Where is the Witch of the South in all this? And, is the Witch of the North by Northwest just a little cranky?
What strikes me now, however, is the fact that we're watching the movie together this evening, and sharing our thoughts on Twitter. Not one-to-one, but many-to-many; Twitterers around the nation are watching and commenting as they go.

That's the beauty of twitter. It's a tool for wide ranging, minor chatter. That can be an annoying thing, of course, but can also be great fun, as it is now for me. and it can be a great tool, as we saw when Mumbai was attacked and many of us tracked events through the tweets of Indians and others in the scene.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Tis the Season

We decorated our tree this evening. Though it was not a particularly cold evening, we had a roaring fire and a hearty homemade spaghetti dinner to put us in the mood. And we created a Christmas music station on Pandora; Tchaikovsky (snowflake waltz), Wyndham Hill artists, Laurence Juber, and the like.

We have more ornaments than we need, and fewer lights. We have balls made throughout pre-school by and for both of our daughters. We have reindeer made from popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners. We have knit things and glued-on-paper things and hand-made ceramic things (made by very little hands).

There are Giraffe- and flute-themed ornaments for Karen. There are golf- and football-themed ornaments for me.

We have a lot of ornaments.

We generally put our tree up late in the season. But we also keep it up longer. Karen was raised in the Orthodox church that celebrates the religious holiday of Christmas on January 7 (little Christmas).

Every year I grumble that Christmas starts too soon. But when we get to this part of December, this is a holiday I really like.

The Tree-Shaker Machinery...

...Out at the Christmas Tree Farm.

David C. shakes needles from a fresh-cut tree. With a special guest appearance by Sammy C. cutting branches from another fellow's tree.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Tree? Up.

We chose our Christmas Tree last weekend, out at the Sposato tree farm, near Milton. It's where we've gotten our tree for several years now. It's a nice place and a favorite of lots of local folks. Every time we stop by, we see more people we know.

The girls were busy getting ready for the Nutcracker, so Karen and I made the tree trip. We brought along her sister, Michele, who was in town for the show.

We found this year's tree way off in a far corner of the farm, where few tree-hunters had been and the selection was still wide. Our young friend David pointed us in that direction, and we thank him for it.

David's girlfriend recruited him to appear in the party scene for our nutcracker (a small crowd of adults is always needed to stand around in the background) and I got to know him during rehearsals. Nice kid.

I went back this afternoon to collect the tree. David cut down the tree for me, ran it through the tree-shaker machinery -- to get rid of dead needles and bugs and things -- and baled it. He helped me pop it onto the car and I drove cautiously home.

I set the tree up this afternoon in the corner of the new room. The cats were fascinated.

We'll decorate it tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Really High-Level Etiquette

President-Elect Obama and VP-Elect Biden met today in Chicago with former VP Al Gore. I'm sure there's a great deal of important news related to this meeting.

But that's not what this post is about. This post is about a basic question that troubles me as I look at this picture.

When a group of people this powerful gets together, which one drinks from the water glass first? The most important person? Or the least?

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Long Weekend Onstage

It has been a busy few days. All four of us were on-stage together over the weekend in the Sussex Ballet production of The Nutcracker. This entailed dress and tech rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and performances on Friday and Saturday evenings and on Sunday afternoon. Those rehearsals were long and tiring, but performances are great fun.

Christina, who is becoming a very good dancer, took the lead role of Clara for the Friday and Saturday performances. She did a lovely job. Colleen is a seasoned and dependable member of the corps de ballet and took some featured spots on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, Colleen danced the solo "Arabian" dance and hit an absolute home-run. We were terribly proud of both our girls.

It's a great treat, by the way, to watch your daughters perform from on-stage with them. I had to be careful, at times, to keep from getting too misty-eyed. Wouldn't have worked for the minor character I played.

And it is fascinating to watch a Ballet from backstage. What is carefully choreographed grace and beauty on-stage is equally carefully choreographed chaos offstage.

Above all, it was great fun to get to know better a wonderful group of young people; some of them we've known since they were toddlers, others we have just met. All of them are great kids.

So I am tired, but happy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Remembering Odetta

The folksinger Odetta has passed away. I only got to see her perform live one time. It was back in the first Bush administration. Odetta performed at an outdoor show on the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies campus in Lewes. She introduced the song "Rock-a-Bye Baby" as one that could be sung not only as a lullaby but also as an indictment. And she did so, dedicating the song to, and the indictment against, Bush Sr. It was a memorable show.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Am a Huge Geek #25


I have added a smaller version of the Feully "signature" banner (above) to the left-hand column of the blog. Fuelly is a social-media site designed to allow users to track their fuel economy over time, share that information, and trade fuel-saving ideas.

I've added every fill-up of my Scion to a Fuelly profile since I started driving it in July. Over 18 fill-ups, I'm averaging 32.5 miles per gallon. My best performance has been almost 36 mpg, back in the summer. I go about 300 miles between fill-ups.

As noted above, I am a huge geek.