2018 Calendar!

NO, I haven’t forgotten to put together a Sweetwater Lane 2018 calendar! I have been working on it ferociously between my day job, my coursework, my yoga classes, my granddaughter, and family! WHEW, there’s a lot going on, and I love it. Life is such a great adventure.

So, here it comes – 2018! I’ve included the photographs you can expect to see in the new calendar below. Leave a comment here, or connect with me on Facebook or via email if you would like to order one, or two, or three. They do make great gifts for anyone who is passionate about the beauty of the Northeast Kingdom. This year’s price is the same – $20.00 each/$5.00 shipping and handling.

East Darling Hill Home


East Burke Dam – End of an Era


Burke Mountain Academy


Sugarhouse Road Colors


Pete’s Pond – Burke Hollow Road


Sweetwater Lane – Rainbow’s Begin & End


The Year of the Eagle


The Grass is Greener on Darling Hill


The Colors of Willoughby


Passing Through the Neighborhood


The Sweetest Sunrises are on Darling Hill


The Kelly Place on Darling Hill


View at Mountain View

The Long Trail Adventures

My sister is the real hiker having hiked many miles over the years and ventured off alone many times for days at a time. I am a minimalist day time hiker. . .occasionally. But when she asked me to do some hiking with her this summer I thought it was a great opportunity to try something new and spend time together.

Originally Marie’s request was for me to consider hiking the 100 Wild Miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine over 10 days. I considered this and began putting on some miles in my own neighborhood. I have miles of biking trails to explore right from home so began walking just for the sake of getting some miles under my belt. All was good for the first few weeks and then my left knee revolted in a BIG way. Suddenly it had decided that any weight bearing would be off limits, so I stopped my training walks, gathered the ice packs and went on the recuperation trail instead of the hiking trail.

After about three weeks and an unpleasant visit to the physician’s assistant I began walking again, but this time went very slowly. I got myself a good pair of hiking shoes, put on the pack and headed out again, eventually working back up to a few miles and a heftier pack. All was good, though my ankles, which must have had a conversation with my knee at some point, decided they were unhappy with my new plan. I ignored them and kept going. Marie suggested I use hiking poles, which would take some of the pressure off my legs. I did and it helped. Trust the experts.

Finally we decided to take on overnight practice hike to see if I was ready. Marie planned a Long Trail hike over Mt. Belvedere, Tillotson Peak, and Haystack Mt. We hiked from Eden Crossing to the Tillotson Camp where we spent the night.The next day we went over Tillotson Peak and Haystack to Hazen’s Notch for a total of about 10 miles. My first thought when done was ‘there is no way I could do that for ten days in a row.’ I found the hike challenging, particularly the second day descending Haystack. It was incredibly steep and I kept reminding myself how lucky we were that it wasn’t raining. It would have been treacherous in the rain. The camping part was great. The weather was perfect – 70 degrees, not many bugs, and Marie had a tent that was comfortable. This was the first time I had officially camped out in about 25 years.

Though I had decided I clearly wasn’t ready for a 100 mile adventure, we did go on another overnight trip a couple of weeks later. This time Marie chose Jay Peak and Doll Peak – a few miles north of our first hike. I had climbed Jay Peak on a day hike a few years ago, so I was feeling more confident about this one. The climb from Vt route 242 to the top of Jay was much easier than the Belvedere hike. We continued hiking to the Laura Woodward camp and spent the night there. This day at that elevation was incredibly windy and bit on the chilly side. We attempted to start a camp fire, but it was a challenge to keep it going with damp wood and so much wind. We settled into our tent about 7:30 pm – before dark, but had a great nights sleep and headed out early to climb Doll Peak and finish at Vt. route 105.

Again, the Jay Peak hike was about 10 miles in its entirety, but was a much easier 10 miles, though I was still sure I was not ready for that mileage in a single day, and certainly not over 10 days. And of course, by this time it was mid August and I was about to return to the school year routine, which would seriously reduce my availability for two day hikes.

These experiences have been wonderful because it gave my sister and I hours together to be sisters. We talked at length about our past, our families, our interests, and our dreams. Until now we have not taken the opportunity to be together in this way and I hope that we will have many more opportunities next spring and summer and on into my retirement years – which I hope are not too far away. Marie has many ideas for two or three day hikes and I look forward to planning those with her.

Whether it’s a sibling, a friend, a spouse ~ I would encourage you to venture out on the trails. It’s a wonderful way to see the best of Vermont and just plain good for the soul.

Honey Honey Honey!


Do you know the feeling of anticipation for something you’ve waited a very long time for? Something you’ve dreamed about and knew would come your way, but sometimes the wait was excruciating? You may have had moments, during the wait, when you doubted that the dream would ever actually be fulfilled.

Oh, but when the dream becomes the reality it is so wonderful, like the first crisp day of Fall after a long stretch of unseasonably hot weather. That’s how I’ve felt in recent weeks as we harvested honey from hives we’ve been tending for four years.

While all the credit should go to the bees, who are amazing insects, I will give oodles of credit to my husband and step-daughter. They have both worked many hours with the bees to keep strong queens in the hives, and kept all hives healthy and well supplied with pollen and nectar.

We recently had our first harvest in four years, and it paid off, accumulating 160 pounds of honey from two hives. The photos below show the stages of the process.

First must remove all the bees from the frames, then load them onto the truck for transport to the garage.

A handy tool to remove the caps so the honey can be extracted

Four frames at a time can fit in the extractor

Once the extractor is turned on it spins the honey out of the frames in about 10 minutes

Open the tap and remove honey from the extractor

The honey is strained to remove excess comb

The final step is bottling the honey

We will be selling some of the honey and have packaged it to sell in half pound, pound, 2 pound and 2.6 pound quantities. All profits (yeah, right!) will be reinvested into sustaining the bees for the future of all mankind. Contact me if you’re interested in purchasing some raw, pure, unfiltered Vermont honey.

1/2 pound for $5.00
1 pound for $10.00
2 pounds for $18.00
2.6 pounds for $24.00

Baked Scalloped Potatoes au Gratin


I love to eat.

Over the past few months I’ve developed a real passion for potatoes – any kind of potatoes – cooked any old way.
When dining out a few months ago I had a scalloped potato and ham dish that was scrumptious, and today, as the feel of Autumn is in the air I had a craving for that yummy dish. Comfort food.

So, I tried to replicate the dish at home. Here’s how I proceeded:

Start by peeling the potatoes and cutting them into slices about 1/4 inch thick. If they were large potatoes I cut them in half and then sliced them so each potato piece was approximately the size of a 50 cent piece.

Next I parboiled the potatoes for a very short time, just until they began to lose their hardness.

While the potatoes were cooking I melted some butter and sautéed chopped garlic and onions. No measurement – just use the amount you like for taste. If I were to guess I would say I had about 3 cups potatoes, 2 garlic pieces chopped, and 1/2 medium onion.

When the potatoes were very lightly cooked I drained them and mixed the garlic/onions with them. I then put them in 4 oven proof bowls I had purchased for Onion Soup au Gratin.

I then made a roux with butter, flour, milk, heavy cream, and a variety of cheeses. For this first attempt I used a combination of Cabot Alpine Cheddar, Dubliner, and Jarlsburg. Again, I didn’t measure anything, but would guess I used 2 tablespoons butter melted in the saucepan, then added 2 tablespoons flour and mixed before slowly adding approximately 2 cups milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream, stirring continuously. When that had thickened I added about 1 cup of diced mixture of the cheeses and stirred until the cheese melted.

Next I poured the roux over the potatoes in the baking dishes and finished it with a mixture of bread crumbs and grated cheeses sprinkled over the top.

Bake them in a 375 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes (until they are bubbly and the crust is browned).

I gotta’ say – it was a scrumptious dinner!

Lessons from School

Today was the official first day of the new school year. Though it wasn’t really a difficult day it seemed it. The challenge was the transition back into the school year from the summer work schedule which is so much more relaxed. I find during the summer months at work I have plenty of time to contemplate, to plan, and to reflect on every choice I need to make. Today, with everyone back and being thrown back into it, suddenly it feels like I am back to no time to think about questions, and problems, and solutions. Suddenly, from one day to the next, it’s back into the hectic high school day.

So I ended this day as I often do – taking a brisk walk in the woods behind my house. And brisk it was – that being one way that I often relieve stress at the end a day – bulling and jamming my way along the trail while my mind spins just as briskly trying to work through all the challenges of the day. I was about two and a half miles in before I realized what I was doing and reminded myself to slow down and take time to actually notice and enjoy my beautiful surroundings. Only seconds after this realization I looked up and there stood a yearling watching me from only about 10 yards away. I stopped and acknowledged her – inviting her to pass. She did not. I could hear what I thought was another deer in the woods nearby and asked the yearling if she were waiting for her friend. She did not respond. I finally decided she was waiting for me to pass, so I continued up the trail, turning briefly to watch her bound off into the trees, white tail bobbing.

There you go, I said to myself. Lesson learned. Slow down and take time to appreciate the world around you. Sometimes you have to get outside of your head to see what’s really important. That was the impetus I needed to shift my thinking and spend the rest of my trek thinking about my day in a different way. I asked myself what went well that day – what did I appreciate?

There were several things that came to mind. First was the student, who last year raced into my office, offering no greeting but instead a steady stream of complaints and an unwillingness to listen. We worked on that a great deal last year. I viewed each visit from him as a learning opportunity. Well, today he came into my room and we worked together and resolved his problem in less than 2 minutes. He went off politely and very pleased with the outcome.

I also appreciated a co-worker’s enthusiasm for his students and the program. Despite wanting to talk about more change on the first day of school, I must acknowledge that his heart is in the right place and I have confidence that his passion will allow him to come up with a great plan.

Thinking about the several people who are new to our school I value how they have been able to step in without hesitation and do an amazing job of helping the school run and serving our students well.

My personal goal for the year is to carry this lesson with me – to take the time each day to get outside of my head and the problems to be resolved and appreciate all that is right with the world.