The 2018 Down and Dirty

Bethesda Fountain, Central Park

In January, Vermont legalized possession (but not purchase and sale) of marijuana.  We still don’t have the more sensible, tax-and-regulate system that states like Colorado, Oregon, and now Massachusetts do, but the Vermont legislature appears to be headed in that direction, maybe even in the 2019 session.

We celebrated St Patrick’s Day by hosting a gathering of the Essex Co Democratic Committee, at our house in Guildhall.  About 15 of us read Irish revolutionary poetry, listened to Irish music,  talked politics long into the evening with fellow Dems, and the wonderful Terje Anderson, Chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, took the trouble to come out to remote Essex County, which impressed us to no end!

I became licensed to practice law in New Hampshire in 2018.   Had to take 4 days of continuing legal education down in Concord,  pass the Character & Fitness eval, pay quite a bit of money,  and go down to the New Hampshire Supreme Court to get sworn in.  A few months later, I was also admitted and sworn in to federal court in NH.  (At a reception after one session, I had the good fortune to meet former U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter.  He’s a delightful person.  We talked about hiking the 4,000 footers of the White Mountains, because he has done them all.  I’ve only done about 65% of them).

28947895_10156307178332276_1052955947950653900_oThis year, the Vermont legislature passed a series of modest, common-sense gun control measures.  (S.55)  We outlawed bumpstocks, limited the acquisition of certain high capacity magazines, expanded background checks, and raised the age to purchase firearms to 21 (with certain exceptions).  The passage of S.55 here in Vermont was difficult and wrenching, as Vermont, until now, has had the fewest gun restrictions in the nation.  Here’s a photo of me on the Vermont State House lawn, at a pro-S.55 rally.



I stumbled across and bought a beautiful antique, oak desk for my law office.  I know it’s a little thing, but it has made a huge difference in my work environment.

A new brewery/restaurant came to Lancaster, NH!  My friend and neighbor Mike Holland finally fulfilled his long-time dream to open a craft brew establishment.  Next time you are in the North Country, visit the Copper Pig Brewery.  You won’t regret it!

My mom and I went on a day-long walking tour of a quaking bog, in New London, New Hampshire.  I’m fond of bogs, and this is a particularly fascinating one.

Edward and I spent an extended Memorial Day weekend in and around Central Park, in Manhattan.  For some time now, we had been thinking about a trip organized around the “theme” of exploring Central Park.  We stayed in an AirBnb on the West Side edge of the Park, spent our days walking inside the Park itself (mostly the northern section,  visited the nearby Museums, and went to restaurants and clubs on the periphery of the park.  (But we needed way more time than we had!)  Edward and I both love public art and Central Park is full of some of the best examples of it in the world.

We marched with our dog Django in the St Johnsbury Pet Parade.

In July, my mom and I drove across the stateto take the Green Mountain Champlain Dinner Train from Burlington down the eastern edge of Lake Champlain to Middlebury. There was a full dinner with wine on the train and some of the views were spectacular.  The next day, we had brunch on the Ethan Allen Cruise Ship,  on Lake Champlain with great views of the Adirondacks. (I find Lake Champlain to be one of the most romantic, dreamy spots in New England),

In late July, I ran in the Lancaster 5K Road Race.  It’s a race I haven’t done in a couple of years, so I worried I might have lost my mojo, but I finished, and my time was decent!

A second-great cousin of mine, Ben Eklof visited us in Guildhall this summer.  He is one of the children of my great-aunt Edith Cyr.  He’s a scholar of Russian history and lives and teaches in Bloomington, Indiana, with periodic research trips to Russia for research and scholarship.   We had a blast over lunch, meeting for the first time, and talking about our family history.

38796563_10156663618642276_417796886498377728_oIn August, in conjunction with the county prosecutor and the bar association, I organized two Expungement Clinics at my office here in Guildhall, for residents of Essex County.  This was a great opportunity to clear certain criminal convictions from one’s record!  We will probably do more of these sessions in the year to come.

For my birthday, we went to the Von Trapp Family Lodge, in Stowe, Vermont.  We ate at the fabulous restaurant, toured the brewery, and hiked around the gardens and trails.

In late August, we trekked up to a local, little-known gem:  The Cite Ecologique, in Colebrook, New Hampshire, for Permaculture Weekend.  We spent the day touring the grounds, learning about gardening, permaculture, and sustainability practices.  (We also had the best vegetarian meal ever in my life, I do believe)

In September/October, we traveled to Italy!  This was my first time in that country, so it was an exciting venture for me.  We flew to Rome and spent two days wandering the city and having a private guided tour of the Vatican Museums.  We then took a train to Perugia, in the province of Umbria.  It was a lovely train ride.   We stayed in Umbria, at a villa on a hill surrounded by olive trees, for two weeks, with friends from the U.S., Hungary, Mexico, England, and France.   On some days, we hung out at the villa, but on many days, we took day trips to various walled cities in the region, including Assisi, Deruta, and Perugia itself.   Then we took the train back to Rome, for more exploring and sight-seeing.  We were particularly taken with the Jewish Quarter, where we spent a full day in the Hebrew Museum, the Synagogue, and had the best meal (kosher) of the entire trip.

42658401_10156784596172276_6698124725018689536_oThis was the worst political nightmare of the year, on the national scene.

I had my first appeal at Vermont’s Environmental Court, and won the case!

We spent Thanksgiving at our house in Lunenburg, Vermont with a group of 9, including our friends Jackie and Shaunna Shaw, of Guildhall and my friend and law colleague Eugene Levine.

For Christmas, Edward got me a Bodhran, a special Celtic drum I’ve been wanting for years.  I even have some online lessons for learning it!

Finally, we closed out 2018 by taking a spur-of-the-moment short trip down to New Bedford and Fall River, Massachusetts.    One branch of my family immigrated from Quebec to Fall River in 1877 to work in the textile mills.  My great-grandmother Marie Louise Doucet was the 8th child of the emigrating family, and the first one born after emigration.  We visited gravestones, stood in front of the church where my great-grandparents married in 1903, tracked down addresses and houses where my extended descendant family lived, and I stopped in at the Fall River Historical Society.  I took pictures of everything, as I’m working on a forthcoming blog post about my immigrant family.   We stayed overnight at a hotel near the New Bedford waterfront and ate at a couple of great restaurants.  It seemed fitting to close out the year with an homage to my ancestors.

Happy New Year!

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