2014: A Decade in Vermont

Guildhall Map, Circa 1855
Guildhall Map, Circa 1855

The overriding theme of 2014 is that Edward and I have now lived in Essex County, Vermont for a decade.  Yes, believe it or not, ten years ago in the spring of 2004, we arrived in Guildhall from Boston with three dogs, a piano, and about 90 boxes of books in tow.

We took up residence at the Benton Cottage, a  Colonial Revival style home on the banks of the Connecticut River.  We called it paradise.  We didn’t know exactly how this new chapter in our lives would unfold, and we weren’t always sure that moving here had been the right decision.  But it has been a great adventure, and I have come to consider Vermont my home.

There have been interesting and dramatic twists and turns along the way, involving the legendary Mt Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, municipal politics, serving as an Act 250 Commissioner for the NEK, and my decision to embark upon the Vermont Law Office Study program.  After four years of study and apprenticeship, I took the bar exam in 2011 and was admitted to practice law.    I’m now a proud criminal defense attorney and I also practice municipal, family, labor and landlord-tenant law.

When we got up here, Edward was already officially retired from his full time and high powered job as an international vice-president of a major labor union.  But to my amazement, never for a moment did he seem to experience any retirement regret.  He runs an art gallery out of the house and is active in local and state wide (Democratic) politics.  He served on the town selectboard and the cemetery and planning commissions.  He’s our local Tree Warden.  He’s Vice-Chair of the statewide Vermont Arts Council, administrative law judge for the Vermont Labor Relations Board, and current Treasurer  of the Robert Frost Place in Franconia.

We’ve climbed about 65% of the 4.000 footers in New Hampshire’s White Mountains (most of which are within an hour’s drive or less).  We campaigned our hearts out for Barack Obama and Governor Peter Shumlin.  I ran and finished four half marathons and several other smaller races.  I entered five pies into local agricultural fairs.

The three beloved dogs who moved from Boston to Guildhall with us have passed on (Mouchette in 2008, Simone in 2011, and Minerva in 2012), but we have three beautiful new dogs, Django, LaBelle and Hugo.

And what was notable about this year?  In January, I became a partner at Morrissette, Young & Wilson, in Lyndonville.  In March, Edward and I traveled to the coast of Oregon, where we spent a week with my family at an idyllic location on the beach.  In June, we spent a week in Seattle, my first time there.  In September, my Guildhall friend Teri and I made a pilgrimage out to Burlington to hear live music on the shores of Lake Champlain, including the great band Lake Street Dive.

In October, my mom and I met in Boston to attend the Boston Lyric Opera’s performance of Verdi’s La Traviata.  Inspired by that experience, Edward and I decided to get season tickets to local Catamount Arts’ series of live HD transmissions from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.  There’s nothing like being in the theatre itself for an opera, but this is a pretty impressive runner up!  The sound in the theatre is fantastic (carefully engineered and monitored by the Met sound technicians), and the live transmissions feature things one doesn’t get at the opera house itself,  like great closeups of the singers and  orchestra and backstage interviews with the performers, stage hands and costume designers.  We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our 2014 immersion in opera and so far have seen Bizet’s Carmen, The Marriage of Figaro, and Wagner’s Der Meistersinger von Nuremburg. (After the Wagner opera, we had dinner with Irwin Gelber, the Chair of the Vermont Arts Council and his companion Rachel.  Irwin first saw the opera when he was studying music in Vienna.  He gave us a detailed run down on the period instruments used when Der Meistersinger was originally performed. It was a great night all around.)

Finally, this December 30 was the 20th year anniversary of the shooting death of my co-worker Shannon Lowney, at Planned Parenthood in Boston.  My co-workers and friends at PP gathered together for the day, as we have many times over the last two decades.  We have all scattered far and wide, but once we are together, it’s as if we were never parted. I am grateful to this group of women who love and look after one another, from near and afar.

Happy New Year!

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