Mostly Cats

Dispatches from our life together.

December 2023

11 Dec 2023

Summer here was rainy, unseasonably overcast and cool. The garden didn’t really take off until mid august- and with the late frost- the Dahlias didn’t explode with blooms until nearly October.

Our town and home were spared by the devastating summer floods. We are situated on high ground: On a hillside overlooking the Wells River Valley. We learned from a neighbor recently that the valley used to have 5 dairy farms- and the one remaining just sold off their herd.

My cousin Paul visited from DC and worked with Terrence on our solar panel install. The 2 panels are powering wifi nodes & cameras, strategically located to expand the range as far into the hills. The system needs some fine tuning, but for the most part- is working.

A third panel is in the works, and will hopefully cast internet up to the campsites that Terrence has been working on developing.

The campsites are located towards the center of the property, in a relatively large clearing at the top of a hill where we believe a previous owner used to park their RV. Terrence has marked off the footprint for a small cabin and camping.

Back at the house…

A few weeks ago our neighbor David, a logger, removed a 35 year old Maple tree on the Western gable end of our house. The tree was overhanging power lines, our roof and chimneys, and left the brick house cast in shade.

It was remarkable to see the sunlight flood in through the old wavy glass windows.

Major work has started on the foundation of the brick house. We hired Buzz Churchill to repair the chimney connected to our furnace, and to repair the north wall of the house, which had been warping from the weight of snow falling on a porch that was tied into the brick. We had to replace a few beams and jack up the north side of the house. To get the supports in the right place we had to remove a portion of a granite stone wall. Jeff broke the granite into about 100-200 lb. pieces, which Terrence hoisted out of the basement and into our front yard.

It was a race to get the house jacked and brick wall reconstructed before the the temperature dropped too far. Buzz had to mix a historically appropriate mortar for our brick, which needed to be above freezing to properly cure. We almost made it- ultimately we had to set up a small heated tent to keep it at the right temperature.

We have been toying around with different ideas for starting a small business here. As our vision becomes more clear, we are tackling projects around the house to make our living space more comfortable and customized.

This dark time of year is welcome after all the activity of the Spring and Summer. We’re ready to hunker down and focus on personal projects to recharge our creativity.

June 2023

17 Jun 2023

It was a long winter and then a cold spring. We anxiously waited for the apple trees to blossom and to see the results of our pruning the last few years.

Time moves slowly…..and then it speeds up and life goes too fast. A late frost took out most of the blossoms, and also the early blooming lilacs.

I find myself thinking- ‟this too shall pass”.

We said goodbye to Little Man on May 18th unexpectedly. LM was a part of our lives and Terrence’s companion for 15 years. We found him on a rainy fall night in Boston in 2008/2009. We are so grateful for so much time with such a brave and regal beast and we miss him terribly.

This week we closed another chapter- and sold Terrence’s 3-Family house in Providence.

The time has come to turn our attention to our farm.

And now it’s December

22 Dec 2022

The temperature has been steadily dropping here in Vermont, and it’s dark a little after 4pm. Everything is shifting into a state of dormancy as we prepare for a season of hibernation.

Terrence and I are in a race against time. We barely got mulch put down before it snowed. WIth outside projects on hold- our attention has shifted inward. Sarah is preparing to return to the pottery, and Terrence is making headway on setting up the tech lab in the upper barn.

This summer we:

Installed the dock. Needs “adjusting.”

Identified locations on the hill for additional shrubs/ foliage – a mix of native wildflowers and shrubs.

Identified 2 areas for camping – one is in an area we refer to as the top, but it’s not really the highest elevation. The other is in an area called “The Deer Meadow.” There are two apple trees in a meadow that abuts a stream that runs along the western edge of our property. The deer meadow slopes up to the East, where, at the top of the hill, is where we found the the previous owner’s blind for hunting. The path to the main trail runs from the stream along the northern edge of the meadow to a little clearing where we found a horseshoe. That will be the campsite. The treeline and path continue to the main trail, with a branch towards the the blind.

This fall we:

Harvested apples and made pie. The apples ripened quickly - and we weren’t prepared to process what we picked. We got to know the trees & their fruits better this year, though, and spent a lot of time tasting the apples from each tree over the course of the season.

Removed 2 shipping containers from the Eastern side of the house. 1 we sold, 1 we gave to Tobin & Erin for their project in the Catskills.

Relocated all tires to the edge of the road, which has prompted much discussion in town. We’re talking like 50 tires- so I get that it’s an eyesore. l’m am thrilled to have them out of my garden, and one step closer to the recycling center. Terrence and I are chipping away at their removal. Terrence says that further complaints can be directed to the previous owner.

Transplanted lilacs to frame out yard & garden.

Tucked a bunch of bulbs into the ground. Hoping for lots of red & white tulips in the front of the house, flanking the front door of the brick house.

We had our first snow on Nov. 16th. All the animal paths that have been hidden are revealed – high traffic areas identified, and future paths imagined as the meadow & foliage dies back and the terrain exposed.

The ice sculpture in the backyard has returned.

Things we look forward to:

Pruning season.

May/June 2022

07 Jul 2022

Bitsy Bat joined our little family in May and the ratio of humans/ cats was restored. I can’t say Little Man is thrilled about the newest arrival- but he’s adjusting just fine. Needless to say, springtime energy abounded as we attempted to pace ourselves and keep up with the rapid greening and growing around the property.

Late April’s bounty filled our cups. Ramps were consumed, pickled, and converted into butter and frozen. Rhubarb as well.

Frequent walks in the ramp patch led to the discovery of a patch of Morels! I went out foraging with my friend Gail and we got completely soaked in the rain, but came back with a small harvest, but one big enough to split. Terrence and I enjoyed the morels simply sauteed in butter. We love the ephemeral nature of it all. One day it’s there, the next -  gone. Looking forward to the hunt again next Spring.

Our apple trees blossomed, and then the lilacs put on a stunning show. Floral perfume lingered in the yard for weeks.

We hired a team to help clear out some debris and spread out the driveway gravel. Terrence pulled out the old snowmobile trailer from where it was buried in the meadow with his truck- will need some work but it’s usable. All of the vehicle accessories have been consolidated and parked together.

The gardens are set. Terrence built a raised vegetable bed out of cedar in the front yard. We planted radishes, turnips, cabbages, kale, basil, dill, tomatoes, zucchini, and some snap peas.

I’ve been slowly weeding and restoring the flower beds in the backyard, and planted the flowers I started from seed in early spring: zinnia, dianthus, tansy, bronze fennel, poppies, sweet peas, and cosmos. The peonies have just tapered off- they bloomed in all shades of white-pink-magenta. So fragrant and delicate!

In front of the house we planted row of sunflowers as we did last year. In the front garden beds are more dayliiles, sedum, zinnias that I started from seed as well as cosmos, bachelors button and hollyhocks. Mulching & watering as much as possible- but the front of the house faces south and is very dry. We’ll see what takes.

We had a bonfire on the solstice (peak peonies!) with our friend Gill, and welcomed the bounty of the new season, and burned the remnants of last years flowers that Terrence and Gill picked for me and dried.

Terrence has been setting up the media lab (to be housed in the newly cleaned room in the upper barn adjacent to the brick house guest room). We’ve been volunteering with the local historical society, and as part of a website update project, Terrence has converted some content from VHS to Digital. I’ve been researching the painting of our house at the GHS and will be sharing my findings at an open house later this summer.

Currently reading:

Sarah: The Gift and The Disappearance of Ritual

Terrence: The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media

April 2022

29 Apr 2022

The thaw.
Runoff from the hills has filled the brook to the west of our house, and the pond is full to the brim. The water is crystal clear- there are fish!

Most of the snow melted in March, save for a few patches shaded by the house and tucked in the woods. The ups and downs of March meant good sugaring - Terrence tapped some maple trees lining the brook.

Taking shape.
Pruning apple trees in the lower, middle and upper orchards. Scraggle old trees line the trail that is just beyond the stone wall that rings the meadow, and curve up the hill to the property line and upper orchard.

Terrence spent the Winter developing an app and outlining a new business. More on that soon.

Last weekend we had a visit from an engineer to help us prioritize the projects we envision for the brick house, barn, and white house.

Coming into focus
Over ten years ago, when Tea moved out of his office in Boston’s Chinatown, most of the equipment was put into storage in Providence. We’ve been slowly moving boxes to Vermont. Terrence found his darkroom equipment and we are hoping to develop the film I’ve been shooting since we got here. I’ve been printing my lake photos from 2020-2021, and love the way they printed on glossy paper at 11 x 17. We also have brought up the screen press- and are slowly moving the rest of the screen printing gear.

I’ve been working on updating our property map and adding the walking trails we defined over the winter.

Planting seeds
Last week I began my new role as Librarian of the Groton Free Public Library, and started seeds for our garden.

The earliest spring wildflowers have started to show up in the woods- bloodroot, hepatica, blue cohosh, coltsfoot. In the garden and lower orchard we have a massive amount of daffodils beginning to emerge through the leaves and tulips popping up showing us where garden beds used to be. My friend Deb gifted me some snowdrops and I planted those just to the west of the house next to a big patch of daylilies. We also discovered a bunch of rhubarb!

Ramps are starting to pop up, and soon enough we will be out there foraging, we hope, for morels.

Welcoming 2022

11 Jan 2022

Snow started falling in Vermont around mid-November, and by the time we returned from a Thanksgiving trip to Chicago and pilgrimage to the Little Yellow House by the lake, the ground was blanketed in white.

The animal footprints left in the snow reveal heavily trafficked paths and a flurry of activity in the hills and around the property. We’re turning into trackers. Less foliage in the woods means we can traverse across the hills and find new paths and tucked away places. Our walks are slower these days- but still trying to get outside despite the cold and snow. We’re scouting out campsites and continuing to find old apple trees growing despite the odds in the forested hills.

We have 1 less cat these days. Said goodbye to my favorite shrimp Dec. 30 2021. Cobweb and I have been seriously bonded since I picked her out from the animal shelter on South Western in Chicago in July of 2006. Her siblings had been adopted as a pair, and she was left alone in the cage until I arrived later that afternoon and scooped her up. She was a faithful companion, bedtime snuggler, and familiar for 15 years. HRH Cobweb was pampered, beloved, sweet, mischievous, playful, and adoring (of me) up until the end. It was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make.

LM is unfazed by her absence. A brave lion.

We welcomed the New Year quietly, and thus far we’re entering 2022 with ideas percolating, inspired and focused.


09 Nov 2021

Well, hi there! Glad you could make it. We’re building this site to help share all of the changes that transpired over the course of 2020-2021. There have been lots of twists and turns, but we’re both very excited to have landed in Vermont together, and look forward to sharing with you all.

We’ll continue to post updates here, but have built specific pages for our big news: Our Wedding, The House, and The Homestead.

The Projects Section is where we highlight what we’re working on and daydreaming about.

We’re eager to share the site even though we are still tinkering with it. Bear with us as we continue to refine the site formatting, content, and design.