Tag Archives: Carding Chronicle

Thonk!: A Carding Chronicle

SH-Pileated woodpeckerOne of the best-known folks in Carding, Vermont is Edie Wolfe. Handcrafters and artists from all corners know her as the president of the Carding Academy of Traditional Arts. Teenagers Will and Faye Bennett know her as “Grandma.”

Edie kindly agreed to take over my Carding Chronicle duties while I’m working on my new book. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her foray into big bird watching this morning.

Glad you stopped by.


I love birds. They are my favorite dinosaurs and every season has its feathered charmers.

In early spring, I start cocking my ear toward the trees lining the Corvus River, listening for the telltale “scree” and chatter that announces the annual arrival of the redwing blackbirds. They crowd the bare branches of late March, exchanging news and gossip from their trip back home to Vermont.

And then, about a week later, they all seem to disappear. We do occasionally hear them but they’re mostly busy pairing up and nesting among the river willows and cattails that line the Corvus.

In summer, it’s the flashy yellow of male goldfinches and the songs of robins and wrens plus the serene gliding of Canada geese, mergansers, and mallards across Half Moon Lake. We’re still eagerly awaiting the first appearance of nesting loons.

That will be a thrill.

Sometimes I wonder if I enjoy the birds of winter most of all. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, most of my work has moved indoors so I get to spend more time at my windows contemplating my feeders. There’s a three-part turnstile full of sunflower seeds that’s drained regularly by the neighborhood chickadees, tufted titmice, and the now-olive-green goldfinches. 

I scatter corn and more sunflower seeds on the ground for the cardinals, blue jays, and juncos.

And then there are the suet feeders, two of them, right outside my kitchen windows. They have lots of visitors but the most regular are woodpeckers, downy and hairy in particular.

I often hear their “thump, thump, thump” against the suet before I get down to the kitchen for my first cup of tea. But this morning there was a different sound, one I don’t hear very often.

“Thonk. Thonk. Thonk.”

Loud and unmistakeable.

I lifted my bedroom curtain just a smidge so I wouldn’t startle it into flight. It was raining—yet again—the guarantee of a bone-chiller day, the kind that makes you drink cocoa while hugging the wood stove.

“Thonk. Thonk. Thonk.”

I swept up my robe with one hand, not bothering with the light, and quietly toed down the stairs to the kitchen. The pileated woodpeckers may be the big bird of the woodpecker world but it is notoriously shy, hying off at the least sound. I should know. I’ve tried and failed to take its picture many times.

I have a dying ash tree on the edge of my yard and it’s a favorite of woodpeckers and nuthatches in summer. Andy Cooper keeps telling to take it down before it falls on my house but the bigger branches are taking care of themselves so I’m not that worried. 

I figured this was the pileated’s target.

I fumbled around for my camera in the dim light of sunrise then got down on my knees to scoot across the floor to the back window. I was right. There was a magnificent pileated pounding away near the base of the ash, wood chips and icy raindrops flying in all directions. 

I raised the camera and zoomed in, struggling to get a clear picture through the window and the rain.

Thonk, thonk, thonk. Click, click, click.

The sounds of a satisfactory winter morning in January.

I watched and took pictures until the cold made moving imperative and it was time for cocoa.


Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. You can find the little town that no one can seem to find on a map right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, and Lights in Water, Dancing.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to the Chronicle by clicking the link on this page. That way, you’ll never miss a story.

Thonk!

One of the best-known folks in Carding, Vermont is Edie Wolfe. Handcrafters and artists from all corners know her as the president of the Carding Academy of Traditional Arts. Teenagers Will and Faye Bennett know her as “Grandma.”

Edie kindly agreed to take over my Carding Chronicle duties while I’m working on my new book. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her foray into big bird watching tomorrow morning.

Hope you can stop by.

SH-Pileated woodpecker

Snow Blowing: A Carding Chronicle

SH-Snow blowerWithin the village of Carding, Vermont, the Wolfe family is well-established.

The original members of this family were Kitty and Daniel, founders of the local newspaper (the Carding Chronicle). Their son, Danielson Wolfe, was elected Senator from Vermont for three terms. He and his wife, Caroline, raised their two daughters, Edie and Rose, in Washington, D.C. before returning to their beloved home town.

Edie now lives in the family home, a sturdy Victorian on the town green, and she’s the executive director of the Carding Academy of Traditional Arts. Her daughter, Diana, owns the Crow Town Bakery with her husband, Stephen Bennett. It’s located across the green from Edie’s house. They have two children, Will and Faye, both of whom are making their way through high school at the moment.

As I said, the Wolfe family are an integral part of life in Carding. I’m glad to say that Edie’s going to take over this weekly version of the Carding Chronicle for a few weeks while I finish up my next book. I’m sure she’ll take good care of you.

Here’s Edie’s first Chronicle of 2020. Enjoy!


There are times when I think that life in Vermont is all about winter—getting through it, getting prepared for it, and recovering from it. 

While tourists cherish our autumn colors (for good reason), what they fail to notice is all the scurrying among us locals as we hurry to get our gardens down, store our hammocks and lawn doodads, stack wood in its winter home, and take advantage of the annual sales on boots, coats, heavy socks, and mittens.

This fall, I finally admitted that my trusty old snow blower had died a good death and had to be replaced. I don’t need one for my driveway—my son-in-law Stephen takes care of that for me—but I like to take care of my own walkways and carve out spots for my dog, Nearly, to do his business. 

Which is why I’ve always kept a snow blower.

So I set out to find a good snow clearing machine with grips the right size for my hands. The first part was easy. The second part, not so much.

For some reason, manufacturers believe that only men clear snow so they make the grips that operate a snow blower’s auger so difficult to maneuver, my hands ache before they can get cold. That’s why I hung on to my old machine for so long. Its auger grip fit my hand.

My hunt began in August when all sensible people buy their new snow removal equipment. If you wait until Thanksgiving, nothing is on sale and the selection is pitiful.

I started off by doing a bit of research among the knowledgeable in Carding. That included Stan the Garage Guy, my son-in-law, my best friend Ruth who can sniff out a bargain better than anyone I know, and our can-do-anything, man-about-town, Amos Handy.

Of course, four people equals four opinions with some overlapping and some diametrically opposed to one another. 

Which is what I expected.

Ruth came with me on my shopping excursions and my grandson Wil supplemented our information-gathering with digs through the clutter of the internet. I finally fluttered down on a diminutive machine that not only fit my budget, it fit my hands.

Ruth and I were very happy with our find but according to the males in my life, my choice was either crazy, foolish or tragically uninformed.

“It’s too small to clear a walkway in one swipe,” Andy Cooper said as he examined my gleaming new purchase on the crisp October morning when I brought it home.

Amos Handy just happened to be passing by so, of course, he had to stop too. “Hmph, I see it’s one of those newfangled electric kind,” he said as he examined its stout recharging cord. “So what do you do if it dies in the middle of the yard?”

For an answer, I tilted the machine back on its wheels using only one hand, and pushed it back and forth. “I don’t go very far, Andy. Just in my yard. I can get it back into the garage easily enough if I have to,” I said.

“Hmph, and what if we have a power outage?”

“I wait until the power comes back on, just like everyone else,” I said.

And so the comments heaped up until we had our first real snowstorm this week. By that time, I admit I had become anxious and was starting to second guess my choice.

The clearing started when the white stuff measured six inches on the ground. But then the plow on Andy’s truck got stuck in its raised position, leaving the parking lot of Cooper’s General Store in a wretched condition for several hours while he struggled to fix it. Then Amos’s favorite snow blower suffered from a clogged carburetor so he had to shovel the walkway to his front door. And my son-in-law Stephen got so busy clearing his own parking lot and then helping Andy, he never got to my house until after dark.

Which at this time of year is about 3:00 in the afternoon.

I admit that I didn’t try very hard not to look smug as I clutched a cup of cocoa and waved at him from inside my kitchen as he struggled to beat back the snow. I hoped he noticed that all of my paths were clear and my new snow blower was relaxing in the garage, contentedly soaking up electrons while it recharged its batteries.


Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. You can find the little town that no one can seem to find on a map right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, and Lights in Water, Dancing.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to the Chronicle by clicking the link on this page. That way, you’ll never miss a story.

Snow Blowing

Within the village of Carding, Vermont, the Wolfe family is well-established.

The original members of this family were Kitty and Daniel, founders of the local newspaper (the Carding Chronicle). Their son, Danielson Wolfe, was elected Senator from Vermont for three terms. He and his wife, Caroline, raised their two daughters, Edie and Rose, in Washington, D.C. before returning to their beloved home town.

Edie now lives in the family home, a sturdy Victorian on the town green, and she’s the executive director of the Carding Academy of Traditional Arts. Her daughter, Diana, owns the Crow Town Bakery with her husband, Stephen Bennett. It’s located across the green from Edie’s house. They have two children, Will and Faye, both of whom are making their way through high school at the moment.

As I said, the Wolfe family are an integral part of life in Carding. I’m glad to say that Edie’s going to take over this weekly version of the Carding Chronicle for a few weeks while I finish up my next book. I’m sure she’ll take good care of you.

Tomorrow is Edie’s first Chronicle of 2020. Hope you can stop by to enjoy!

SH-Snow blower

A Fine Doggie Day: A Carding Chronicle

SH-Bird feederWinter storms always bring the possibility of school closings in deference to the bad-for-driving weather.

Of course, everyone has an individual reaction to these joyous and spontaneous holidays.

The snow is piling up. Let’s hover over Carding, Vermont for a little while, shall we?

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. You can find the little town that no one can seem to find on a map right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, and Lights in Water, Dancing.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to the Chronicle by clicking the link on this page. That way, you’ll never miss a story.

——————————–

1:02 a.m.
Edie Wolfe raised her head from her pillow, trying to account for the strange hissing sound drifting in and out of her hearing range. It took a minute but then she realized that its intensity rose and fell with the wind.

“Great,” she muttered as she burrowed deeper under her quilt. “Wintry mix. Everyone’s favorite.”

3:17 a.m.
“Frank, what are you doing up?” Norrie Hitchcock called to her husband.

“Shhh, it’s all right,” he whispered from his post by a window. “I’m just checking road conditions one more time before I call off school.”

His wife sat up, squinting in the light of their digital clock. “Why aren’t you online looking at the VTrans report? What’s out the window?”

“Without the leaves on the trees, I can see the headlights moving along the interstate.” Frank leaned forward. “There’s hardly anybody out, and the ones I do see are moving like snails.” He picked up his phone. “We have only three snow days left before I have to add extra days at the end of the year so I just want to be sure.”

Norrie chuckled. “The kids in your daughter’s class have figured out that you’re the new superintendent and the guy who makes snow days happen. They believe that you slide our cat across the porch to see if she can stand up or not, and if she can’t, you call a snow day.”

Frank chuckled. “Really? Somehow, I can’t see Gracie letting me do that to her.” He pushed the send button on his email. “There, now all the radio stations know, the town manager, the principals, everyone. Now we can go back to bed.”

4:31 a.m.
“Whoo. I wish someone would figure out how to pre-heat these things,” Melvin Goode said as he hoisted himself into the seat of a town plow truck. He reached for the cup of coffee held by his assistant. “Seems like I always spend the first hour on the road freezing my butt off.”

“Maybe we should invest in some of those heating pads that you warm up in a microwave,” Bruce Elliott said. “My wife got a couple from Cooper’s store, and we’ve been using them in the car. They work great.”

Melvin stared at him for a minute. Even though he used the garage’s microwave to make popcorn and heat coffee, he still didn’t quite trust anything digital. “Huh, you don’t say. Bring me one. If they work, I’ll ask for tush warmers in my next budget. That ought to go over good at town meeting. Ha!”

6:47 a.m.
Edie listened to the murmur of news on Vermont Public Radio while she stirred cranberries into her oatmeal. Ever since the last Presidential election, she’d taken to draping a dish towel over her radio while the national news was on then whipping it off to catch the weather and local news. Reading national news was disturbing enough. Listening to it or watching it made her ill.

“Censorship does have its place,” she told her dog, reaching down to knead the hard-to-reach places behind Nearly’s ears. He sighed with contentment then shook himself awake, trying to figure out where he wanted to take his first nap of the day.

He finally decided on the deep window sill in the kitchen, the one that his human kept a pillow on for his convenience. (Edie was so thoughtful that way.)

He could see the back door and driveway from this vantage point, as well as one of the many bird feeders studded around the yard. He sighed as he watched the silent snow cover his private landscape. It was going to be a long but satisfying doggie day.


Remember, you can visit Carding any time by reading one of my four Carding novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, or Lights in Water, Dancing.

Thanks for stopping by.

A Fine Doggie Day

Winter storms always bring the possibility of school closings in deference to the bad-for-driving weather.

Of course, everyone has an individual reaction to these joyous and spontaneous holidays.

The snow is piling up. Let’s slide over Carding, Vermont tomorrow to check in on folks’ reactions to the weather, shall we?

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. You can find the little town that no one can seem to find on a map right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, and Lights in Water, Dancing.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to the Chronicle by clicking the link on this page. That way, you’ll never miss a story.

SH-Bird feeder

94 Minutes: A Carding Chronicle

SH-Cell phoneLike most people, Edie Wolfe resists change—especially when it comes to technology.

But she’s about to get a new cell phone. Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. You can find the little town that no one can seem to find on a map right here in the Carding Chronicles and in the four novels of Carding, Vermont, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, and Lights in Water, Dancing.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to the Chronicle by clicking the link on this page. That way, you’ll never miss a story.

—————————

Edie Wolfe sighed in exasperation as she walked across Carding Green. She’d mistakenly left her cell phone in her coat pocket again, and now someone was interrupting the quiet of her cold morning walk with something that could have waited a few more minutes.

“I don’t have to answer it,” she muttered. “I don’t have to answer it right now.”

But the digital chirp would not be denied. Edie grumped, grunted, and finally managed to grip the phone’s outside edge with the tips of her gloves in order to extract it from her pocket. But as soon as it was free, the phone took off like a just-released bird, diving corner-first onto the sidewalk where it broke into three pieces.

“Damn.” Edie loaded the curse with all the invective she usually reserved for weeds in her garden. “Damn, damn, damn.”

She scooped up the plastic bits, admired the crystalline pattern of her phone’s shattered screen, and then trudged toward the Crow Town Bakery to find her grandson, Wil.

She didn’t have to utter a word of explanation as she spread the wreckage out in front of him. Wil had been urging her to upgrade her phone for quite some time so he was more delighted than distraught over his grandmother’s accidental destruction.

“I want exactly what I had,” she told him. “Nothing more. Nothing less.”

Wil’s thumbs froze in place over his own cell phone screen. “Um, I don’t think they make that kind of phone anymore, Gram,” he said, giving the wreckage a chin jut.

“Really? But it’s not that old.” Edie sighed. “Okay, okay but keep it simple. I don’t need any of those bells and whistles. I wouldn’t know how to use them, and…” she raised a hand to stop Wil’s protests, “I don’t have any reason to learn. What I had worked fine for me, and that’s all I care about. I’m not here to serve the needs of technology. It’s supposed to serve mine, remember?”

“Okay, Gram,” he said. “No bells. No whistles.” He hit the “purchase now” button on his screen. “Your new phone should be here in three to four days.”

Wil lifted his eyebrows in his sister Faye’s direction as Edie left the bakery, getting an eye roll in return. “You volunteered to be her tech support,” she said as Edie left. “All I can say is better you than me.”

“Oh Gram’s all right,” Wil said. “But are you sure you don’t want to share this moment? Think of how much you’ll learn about patience and understanding.”

“Hmph, are you forgetting the iPad incident?”

“No I haven’t.” Wil said with a smile. “But she didn’t really throw it down the stairs, you know.”

Faye laughed. “Yeah, well, I’m just sayin’, better you than me.”

Three days later, Edie showed up at the bakery with a package under one arm. 

“Would you like me to help you set up your new phone, Gram?” Wil asked. “It’ll take just a few minutes.”

“No, I think I can handle it,” Edie said. “I just wanted to thank you for ordering it for me.” And with a wave, she and her dog walked home.

Wil rushed to grab a window-side table from which he could watch Edie’s front door. Then he tapped the timekeeper on his phone. “It’s exactly nine-oh-seven,” he announced to everyone in the bakery. “What are your bets? Remember, it’s whoever gets closest to the time she gives up without going over.”

His father grinned from his post by the bakery’s grill. “Edie hates changing technology. I say she’s back here in 20 minutes.”

“Now come on,” his wife, Diana, said. “Mom’s a very intelligent woman. She’s going to do just fine.” She frowned at Wil. “I’m not betting.”

“I know she’s intelligent,” Stephen protested. “That’s why this stuff gets her so mad. She knows she should be able to figure it out herself but somehow, she doesn’t.”

“She just opened her front door,” Wil said. “I’m starting the clock now.”

“I’ll take 60 minutes,” Faye said. “Gram can get awful stubborn so I think she’ll hang in there for a while. How about you?”

Wil scratched his head. He had a lot of respect for his grandmother and he knew that her cell phone company had been upgrading its customer service so maybe this time…

“Ninety-four minutes,” he said.

“Really? I thought I was going long with an hour,” Faye said. And then they both turned to watch the front door of their grandmother’s house.

As soon as she got inside, Edie took a long, slow breath. “I’m not going to get angry no matter how long this takes,” she promised herself. “I can figure this out.”

She propped her iPad on her kitchen table, refusing to think about the incident with the stairs. Soon she was online and ready to activate her new phone. But her heart sank as she read the instructions on the website’s home page.

“Who writes this stuff?” she muttered, taking another deep breath. Then she raised her hands to type in her phone’s serial number, clicked on the green “submit” button, and waited for the next screen to pop up.

“Huh. Now why do they want me to repeat the serial number?” she muttered, striking the keypad a bit harder as she scrolled through the litany of questions that followed the serial number. “Yes, I do want to activate this phone. Why else would I be here? And yes, I want to eliminate my broken phone. And yes please, transfer my data.” She clicked on the green “submit” button again.

That’s when a rainbow-colored spiral on her iPad’s screen began to twirl in place, spinning faster and faster while Edie waited. And waited.

Then everything stopped, her screen winked, and Edie found herself right back where she started.

“Oh come on! Seriously?” Her voice rose to the next higher octave.

Edie eyes flicked around the screen, seeking another button to push. She finally found a phone number that promised a conversation with a human being. “Good thing I’ve still got a land line,” she said to her dog. “How do they expect people with cell phone trouble to call them on a cell phone.”

As she struggled through the tape loop, pressing “one” for this and “two” for that, she tried to relax her clenched jaw. I’m doing okay, she told herself. I can do this.

“Sorry, we are experiencing heavy call volume. Your wait time will be approximately seven minutes.”

Well, Edie told herself, I can wait seven minutes.

Meanwhile in the bakery, the number of eyeballs glued to Edie’s front door had grown to more than twenty. Andy Cooper glanced at this watch. “Come on, Edie. I’ve got minute seventy-two,” he muttered. He glanced down at the money gathered in a take-out container sitting in front of Wil. “I never asked. Where’s the money going?”

“The winner gets to choose a local charity,” Wil said. “So far, we’ve got $125.”

“I’m telling you, Mom figured it out herself, and you’re all waiting for nothing,” Diana said. Her comment stirred up a little murmur but then everyone settled back into watching Edie’s front door.

As she lingered on hold, Edie fished around in the kitchen drawer where she kept stuff she didn’t have any other place for. In other words, junk.

Her fingers curled around a red, egg-shaped container. She squeezed until it opened, removed the ancient Silly Putty, and began to knead her frustrations into the beige plastic blob.

Seven minutes crawled by. Then ten, eleven, twelve.

Suddenly, the insipid muzak stopped, her phone clicked, and the persistent buzz of a dial tone filled her ear.

“Aarrrggghhhh! I’m done! I’m done!” Edie jammed her arms into her coat sleeves, shoved the recalcitrant phone into her pocket, and wrenched her front door open.

“Whoa, there she is,” Faye said excitedly. “How many minutes, Wil?”

He looked down at the timer on his phone. “Ha!” He raised it triumphantly. “What did I tell you? Ninety-four minutes on the nose.”

Faye leaned forward to evaluate the intensity of the color of her grandmother’s face. When she determined that it closely resembled ketchup, she launched herself toward the stairs that led to the family’s apartment above the bakery.

“Hey, where are you going?” Wil asked. “Don’t you want to watch and learn?”

Faye grinned as she looked over her shoulder. “Oh no. Like I said, better you than me.”


Remember, you can visit Carding any time by reading one of my four Carding novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life, or Lights in Water, Dancing.

Thanks for stopping by.