Friday, April 27, 2012


When we arrived Saturday night at Cape Cod with our mouths agape at the fabulous location we were in, Jessie greeted us, saying "welcome to the 1%."  She was not kidding.  The wealth that was so abundant in the area was truly mind boggling.  We were invited to dinner at a neighbor's house across the street.  Inside, it felt more like we were walking through a museum that people just happened to liv in ... it was just one of their three houses at Cape Cod.  Seriously.  I don't think I can really wrap my mind around what it must be like to have one vacation home, let alone three.

And then there is Jessie ... who grew up summering around the corner from the Kennedy's and had the President at her house and yet who is incredibly down to earth and now has chosen to literally clean up the garbage of her wealthy friends/neighbors.  She runs a recycling business at the Cape during the summer and REALLY gets an inside look into the lives of the ultra-wealthy.  Scary.  Jessie reminded me this weekend about how she knew Jason and I should be together -- a long time before either one of us ever knew.  I love that.

Ironically, this weekend often felt like we were back in Tonga ... being in a place that we really didn't fit in, but getting to enjoy it nonetheless.  It wasn't a great weather for a beach weekend, windy, rainy and cold, but we had a blast!

Views inside our beautiful accommodations

 The church next door -- that Jessie has the keys to!

Anyone recognize this historic home???

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Cape Getaway

Ahh!  We are just coming off a fabulous and much needed getaway -- a visit to a Peace Corps friend at her family's summer cottage on Cape Cod.  I realized last week that this would be my first night away from Forest Echo in six months.  For the traveler in me, this is a very, very long span between trips and I admit, I had been getting very antsy to GO somewhere.  This was a perfect fix!

Jessie generously invited us to come out anytime and we finally took her up on it and got another Peace Corps buddy, William to join in the fun.  Now, let me say this ... as many times as I had envisioned what a visit would be like, this was not it!  When someone says "summer cottage," I think cozy little bungalow, not a huge seven bedroom house right around the corner (literally) from the Kennedy family homes and with amazing ocean/beach views.
Hillcrest House

Hello Spring!

This past week it seems that Spring has finally arrived at Forest Echo!  I am thrilled!  Daffodils (& other things) have been popping up everywhere all over the property and it has been a wonderful surprise!

PS -- I don't think I ever mentioned the end of our water situation ... we have running water again! Yay-hoo!  What a relief!  As it started to warm up, the pipes thawed out and it started running on it's own again, literally one day before we were expecting visitors.  That's timing!


Monday, April 23, 2012

God provides .... a blueberry patch

Last week I started a new job.  A job I hadn't even applied for.  A job where I could carpool with Jason and where I got to work outside.  I probably shouldn't be amazed anymore at the creative ways that God continues to provide for us, but I am!

As I have been working here, I've had a lot of time to think and remember how often during my eight years of working in a cubicle I wished I could just be a gardener ... and now I have the opportunity!  It's wonderful!

This doesn't look like much (I had no idea what blueberry bushes even looked like!), but it's over 450 bushes that will produce large, scrumptious berries come summertime.  I've had the opportunity to prune and fertilize all of them and will start weeding and mulching next week :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Retail therapy on a budget

Since our move here, I've become an avid thrift-shopper.  In the past, I've usually only gone into a thrift store when looking for a specific item that I really didn't want to have to pay for or when shopping with my Mom.  Needless to say, the budget we live on here has taught me that if I can't find it at the thrift store, I may not need the item at all :)

Our local store is an incredibly well-run and clean place that I enjoy going.  Plus, it is also the local food pantry, so all proceeds go to support those in our community.  On the days I come into town, I usually stop by for a quick stroll through, whether I need something or not.  Today when I was there, I was realizing that this was my new form of retail therapy :)  In LA, I used to go wander at Target or Ross after work ... finding cute or useful things and decompressing from work.  Although I don't really need to decompress from work anymore, it is still fun to have a place to wander through to see if I can find something fun. 

Today ... I found something we actually really need and something cute for myself.  Yes, that's a tiny vaccum that we should be able to run off the generator at our place.  We have rug-sweepers that don't use any electricity, but they really don't leave the few carpets we have all that clean.  I've been looking for something small to buy, but even the $40 seemed excessive on our budget.  And then today, here was this baby for $5 and now it's mine :)  Obviously, it's not going to be the most powerful vacuum, but for our needs I think it will do the trick.  The belt was pretty cute and for $1, I didn't feel too bad splurging on it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pioneer-life gym

There are many tasks that we get to perform in our life at Forest Echo that make me realize all over again why people didn't have to set aside time to "exercise" in the past ... one of those things is simply what is involved in keeping our barn warm.

I haul several loads of wood from this pile, up these stairs in a crate -- every other day or so.  Boy, does that work the stomach (I do not have "abs" to speak of, but something in there seems to be getting a workout) and arms.  I'm thinking I should just leave the bucket loaded and carry up and down 15 - 20 times each day just to see what would happen.

And, yes ... we're totatlly stacking wood inside our house. We live in a barn, it's allowed I think.

When I think how this small step that gets my heart pounding and arms screaming is only the final step in our heating process, I am amazed.  What had to happen before this is much more labor intensive (or perhaps just a better workout!)

Step one: (thankfully) we have not had to complete. Felling trees and trimming all the small branches off. Lucky for us, we were able to purchase some that are only 1/4 mile from our house.

Step two: cutting the logs into 18" lengths that will fit into our fireplace. This is hard work -- even with the modern convenience of having a chain saw. The first time I used the chainsaw (for only 15 minutes), I couldn't lift my arms for the rest of the day...a workout activity that I should clearly by doing everyday.

Step three: splitting the 18" lengths into pieces that are easy to handle and get into our fireplace.

Step four:  moving and stacking ALL the wood near our barn ....

And that's where I come in with my crate and stacking it inside the house :)  I admit, I kind of like the fact that so much goes into it.  It gives me an appreciation for heat that I don't have when all I have to do is click a button and wah-lah! instant heat. 

Anyone want to come workout with me??

Monday, April 9, 2012

What do ya do?

I had a dilemna a couple weeks ago and it is still lingering at the edges of my mind ... I'm curious, what would you have done?

A co-worker noticed something in my possession (outside of work) and assumed that it had been stolen from work ... before I'd registered the implication and could clarify, the person went on to mention items they had from work.  At which point I realized I would probably come across as incredibly "holier-than-thou" if I backtracked and explained that no, I had not stolen from work. So I left it alone and prevented an embarassing situation for that person, but now I'm embarassed.  I don't want someone thinking that I steal from work (BTW what is up with that? We worked with a lot of people this winter who seemed to think there was nothing wrong with taking small things from work -- things that now have to locked up because people help themselves).

Of course, it's one of those situations that can't be undone and I still haven't worked out an ideal way that I would have responded if I'd been quicker on my feet.  What would you do?

And, because we are just getting into Spring here in Vermont, here's a picture of something coming back to life in our neighborhood. I love water droplets on things!