Musings On A Worsening World — The Fostering of Fear and The Crushing of Compassion

So many thoughts swirling through my head, as the world experiences random deadly actions by a few who are determined to foster a fear that will crush compassion.

These Terrorist attacks are successful mostly because of the 24/7 blabbering of far to many with nothing important to say – Just a desire to fill the airwaves and print media with speculation and exaggeration in hopes that something they say will be noticed, quoted or tweeted!

Calls for more war and additional loss of freedoms as secret, unsupervised national organizations spy on and collect information on every citizen is today’s modus operandi.

It is just a matter of time before the threat against Washington, DC is carried out.  How do you stop crazed and brainwashed people willing to blow themselves up?  You can’t!

The threat on Washington, DC hit home —
In 1965, I selected The George Washington University because of my interest in Public and International Affairs AND because of its location in Washington, DC, within walking distance of all branches of our Government and the Library of Congress.
Four wonderful year beginning in the fall of 1966 and ending in the spring of 1970.
There were no barricades!  There were no metal detectors at every door! The only restricted access was to the President’s home.  We could be admitted to the White House Tour w/ a ticket from one of our Senators. A simple procedure to manage numbers.
The Capitol was open and accessible w/o impediment.  I always put on a coat and tie before I headed for the Hill.  Those were different times and I had had a proper and fairly formal upbringing.
I am seated with my three brothers standing – 1966
The most direct route to The Library of Congress (where GW students did their serious research) was though the Rotunda of the United States Capitol Building. 
United States Capitol

I tried to plan research trips such that I could stop in the Senate Dining Room on the way to the Library.  You just needed to know where it was and a Capitol guard/guide had shown me early in my freshman year. I could, without any interference or security hurdles, just stop in the Senate dining room for lunch — Senators and staff eating at surrounding tables. No one concerned about who I was or why I was there.  The bean soup was a favorite.

 I could go up to the Senate visitor’s gallery and observe what was happening on the Senate floor!  One memory being Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen filibustering! These were the days of a strong middle class, days when the political parties could work together for the good of the whole.
The Library of Congress was every serious student’s dream! 
Library of Congress
You just walked in, found a seat, filled out cards for the books you wanted and they were retrieved from the stacks and brought to you.  On one occasion I challenged the staff member for not looking as I was sure the book was back there.  He said he would prove to me that it wasn’t and took me back into the stacks!  What an experience.  The book was there, a few spines out of place! This was before my Borders Books and Music days and the 18″ check in all four directions:):)
I could walk along the White House fence and end up having a conversation with the First Lady and Lynda Bird Johnson as they walked the beagles on the White House lawn. (or I should say the beagles walked them)
I could be 5 feet away from the President as he laid a wreath at the Lincoln Memorial and my family could see me there on the evening news – back when the evening news was news and not  24/7 blabbering.
My Mother and I ended up being at the dedication of the FDR memorial as we were weary and sat for a few in the chairs set up outside the National Archives Building. All of a sudden the Roosevelt family started arriving and we just stayed in their midst for the dedication. No one asked who we were or why we were there and we laughed over the years as we speculated about people trying to figure that out from pictures and news coverage!
The Washington, DC, that I loved and enjoyed, is no more. It is a guarded fortress that I still have great affection for and hate to see attacked.

I am blessed to have loved and enjoyed this great city, this symbol of our Country, back when it really did belong to the people.


Shops At Fayrehale — Knocks At The Door!

It happens fairly often, people travel through several States to visit Shops At Fayrehale and arrive either just before we open or on a day we decided to close!  

They knock at the door.

Even the Geese that mow our lawn want to know when we open!!

Two recent knocks at the door are noteworthy and proof positive of the need to build a solid internet presence.

A week ago last Thursday, I decided to close Shops At Fayrehale and work on painting the bathroom we are renovating. It seemed like a safe day to sneak as Columbus Day weekend was coming and and I knew we had a busy weekend ahead.

I was painting away when there was a knock at the door. Abigail was barking. I consider ignoring it but the knock is persistent!

So, I answered the door and a Gentleman said, “we drove up from CT because my wife wanted to see your Shop”. I  quickly opened and explained that I was always open if I was home – etc.

They had a nice look around the shop, we had a nice general conversation, they made their selections and as they were paying the husband asked if I had always lived here. My response, “I was born in Concord, MA and grew up in NY, PA & NH”, had him reveal that his wife grew up in Towanda, PA . “She did! I graduated from Towanda High” . He called his wife back in from the car where she had gone while he paid and told her. She said, “I did too!” I responded,”well I was way ahead of you — I was class of ’66” and she said, “so was I!”  “I am Jim Verrill and was Editor of the Yearbook” — Her mouth dropped open as she said, “I am (was) Mary Bartlett!” — My date to the Senior Prom!!!! 49 years ago!!!!!

Mary Bartlett - Class of 1966 - Towanda HS - PA        James Verrill - Class of 1966 - Towanda HS - PA

Our Senior Pictures – 1966

We spent three hours catching up. She and her husband were on a two day Vermont Foliage tour. Mary had been researching cold weather laying chickens for a friend and found us of course – Fayrehale Chanteclers!  Then Mary saw the Shop and decided she wanted to visit the Shops At Fayrehale on their VT tour. They took a 50 mile extension (each way) from White River Junction where they were spending tonight!

The power and the value of the internet!!!!

The other couple I want to mention as noteworthy live in Erie, PA.

This past Saturday I had just finished an errands run.  One of those trips where I had a careful list to keep me on track during seven different stops. The kind of errands run that I hate but are sometimes necessary.  I pulled the van into the drive and came in the house to quickly answer an email before I moved the vehicles, put the signs out and opened the Shop.

A Knock At The Door!

“Are you open?  My wife and I drove here from Erie, PA. She has been following you on Facebook and on your Website.”   While we were the primary destination, they were taking a nice trip. They had visited Salem, MA, Bar Harbor, ME before coming to Shops At Fayrehale  and then were headed home via Old Forge, NY  and Lake Placid, NY.

She had ordered 5 Chanteclers from a hatchery, fallen in love with them, and wanted good stock. That desire was responsible for her finding us on the internet.  Often our Chantecler and Icelandic chickens bring people to Shops At Fayrehale: Antiques, Christmas, Gifts.

Several hours later, they left with their Shop selections and a dozen week old Chantecler chicks. I then moved the vehicles from the driveway, put the signs out and finished opening.

A good presence on the internet is beneficial!

We are busy renovating the downstairs bathroom, winterizing the cellar to prevent another unexpected, extraordinary freeze like we had last December and rearranging the back room in the Shop as we prepare for the Holiday season.

Back Room at  Back Room at

Back Room at

Back Room at  Back Room at

The Totally New Look In The Back Room At Shops At Fayrehale.

We have also started the outside transition for the Holiday Season.

Yes!  That Is The First Snow Of The Season! – Last Friday Night.


Suddenly — We Are Deep Into August !

Yes!, Suddenly we are deep into August! (a title that I heard on NPR and figured was perfect for a quick Blog entry after three months of silence since my last post).

The lilacs are a sweet memory, preserved in a picture by  professional photographer Kelly Clow that we use in our ads and as a banner (see above). The three goslings that have survived a horrible season with predators are nearly full grown and getting getting more difficult to distinguish from the adult geese.

The geese continue to be our lawn mowers and to entertain us!  They have come in to the Shop twice to check things out, settle down on the oriental carpet and spread the fake apples around with disgust.  Now if I come into the house for a few, I shut the shop door to prevent their visits.  I have not figured out how to add short video clips to this program so will provide your Goose entertainment with this link!

June saw us receive 13.5″ of rain here in the village and the soil didn’t warm up.  July gave us 9.5″ of rain and August has delivered a heat wave that we do not expect for more than a day or two here in Northern Vermont. No beautiful gardens to share this year. We are getting some tomatoes, beans, chard and lettuce. We will see if we get any winter squash.  I roll with it and dream about next year’s garden!

Not sleeping outside in the tent, as I have for the past 4 years, has been a personal comfort hardship (physical & mental).  Priorities had to be set and the cost of a new tent was way down the list.  Plumbing first! We are making progress with the plumbing. We have had hot and cold running water to the shower and kitchen sink since the end of May along with cold water to the outside faucet and hoses.  We still need to install the toilet and bathroom sink. That is waiting on the floor which will be the next project. We have removed the old floor and just need to select, pay for and install new linoleum. Soon!

Rather then more money for tents, we would like to just construct a roofed, screened platform for the bed and 2 reading chairs. Once in place, this could be wrapped with tarps for winter and the pitched roof could handle the snow!  A step at a time!

As you know, the show case, fixtures and orientals we had loaned Shops On Star and NEVER expected to come back, were delivered the end of May! When I heard it was all coming home to roost, I had no idea what I would do with it!  Relaxing allowed the creative ideas to flow one at a time and at unexpected times.  Everything has been worked into  Shops At Fayrehale.

Porcelain In The Style Of Celia Thaxter   Large Forest Green Glass Handkerchief Vase - Vintage Murano Art Glass

The silk lined display case – Left: Shops At Star w/ Porcelain In The Style of Celia Thaxter – Right: Shops At Fayrehale

The lighted display case, once I figured out how to work it in, has created a nice focal point – filled with colored glass in the Antiques section of Shops at Fayrehale.  At this level, there are three additional ledges on top that can be displayed.

Mahogany Drop Leaf Table

The Mahogany drop leaf table that used to greet Shoalers as they entered the Gift Shop on Star Island, fits perfectly (just!) under the window and creates an eye catching display area for Shops At Fayrehale Early Lighting.

Three bookcases from the Book Store, Shops On Star, Isles of Shoals, Star Island

Even the three book cases, that I painted yellow for the Shops On Star Book Store fit in!  Two of then on the fronts of the hay racks in the back of Shops At Fayrehale and the third under a window in the front of Shops At Fayrehale!  They did not need to be repainted, just dusted, as the yellow I chose for Shops on Star fit perfectly with the yellow I choose for Shops At Fayrehale.  Serendipity!!!

We have had a parade of friends from New York and New England come to visit us!  Many, a drive in the driveway surprise! Always fun to see everyone and show them Shops At Fayrehale  whether or not we know they are coming!  Everyone says that the pictures, as good as they are, do NOT do the Shop justice!

Nothing we can do about that except invite and encourage you all to stop by for a personal visit.

Several good friends have passed over these last few months and that has me so aware of how mortal we all are.  We need to live and love, help and be kind every day as none of us know which day will be our last.

I work to relax and flow with life and events beyond my control, like the Lynx and Fisher we have in the village killing what they can. I dread the fact that the election and corresponding media hype has 16 more months more to flood the media world. I totally support the concept used in other countries that limit the election process, some to as little as 90 days!!

Tom and I try to take a couple days a month for misc. day trips.  Fun and a change of pace from our regular daily routines.

Thus, Life at Fayrehale marches on. Fall will soon be here and than winter. Aaaaaaaaaaah winter, I can hunker down and work on getting some semblance of order in the house.  I have a dinner party to plan (Probably Spring) where we will inaugurate the first four place settings of the Porcelain  in The Style of Celia Thaxter Dinner Service.

Oops! forgot to add last night that we are testing the Coupon feature on our Online Site!  A 10% discount is available on ALL online products through the end of August using Coupon Code bl20150831 at checkout.

Until next time — live and love, help and be kind as you flow with life.


Goslings & Lilacs Revive My Soul — Life Feels Good

Life here at Fayrehale continues to be multi-faceted busy!!

We had a Goose setting on eggs. No way to know when she actually settled on her nest with 8 eggs so we just waited patiently.  This past Sunday she presented us with 8 goslings!  8 for 8! The Gander is an American Buff and the Goose is 1/2 American Buff and 1/2 Sebastopol. The cross fixed the less than pleasant dispositions our Sebastopols had and gave us some curly feathers. It will be interesting to see how these youngsters feather out as they are now 3/4 American Buff.

Shops At Fayrehale Geese      Shops At Fayrehale Geese

New birth in both the plant and animal world makes my heart sing.

The Lilacs have come on fast, as Mother Nature speeds to catch up after a severe winter and a late spring.  They are on schedule for a peak presentation this weekend, Memorial Day weekend.  The weather predictions are for cool so they should last nicely.  I need them to, as I need a new banner picture for Shops at Fayrehale with the lilacs  in bloom between the sign and the entrance. It is certainly time to replace the winter snow image!

Shops At Fayrehale Lilacs      Shops At Fayrehale Lilacs

Shops At Fayrehale Lilacs      Shops At Fayrehale Lilacs

Lilacs have always been a favorite. I have planted and left collections everywhere I have lived.  The best collection is here in Vermont with us now. Over 45 varieties and more than 55 bushes. The property is perfumed by the fragrance of lilacs.  As you can see we have wood to stack!  3 cords dumped in the front yard and another 3 cords in the driveway.  The driveway pile will be stacked first as we need the area for customers to park.

We are fast approaching our one year anniversary for opening Shops At Fayrehale: Antiques – Christmas – Gifts

 We opened July 4th weekend last year and this first year has flown by.

The Icelandic Roosters think the railing is a roost installed for them:)

………….and they will come right in to the Shop if I am not careful!

This first year for Shops At Fayrehale has been good. We already have people returning from last season.  We developed online shopping for Shops At Fayrehale over the winter. We needed to turn a rough. cold winter into a productive one!  We have found and added FOUR  new Artisans and with their individually crafted pieces, expanded the Ornament Selection.  Temari (Japanese String Balls), Gourd, Quilted and Felted Wool ornaments join the great selection we already offered!

Shops at Fayrehale Temari Ornaments      Shops at Fayrehale Gourd Ornaments

Shops at Fayrehale Quilted Ornaments      Shops at Fayrehale Felted Wool Ornaments

As some of you know, the winter wiped out the plumbing in this 1840 house we call home!  Since December, 2014, I have lived a Colonial lifestyle, carrying water up from the cellar in buckets and jugs and rather than a trip to the outhouse, a 5 gallon bucket by the wood stove!

Working with the plumber now as repairs are made and we plan for more winters like the last.  As with all projects in old homes, we found that we have to do some work on the bathroom floor.  After taking out the toilet and sink, which we are replacing, I looked under the linoleum, hoping to find an old wood floor and instead, found a black and decaying particle board floor!

SO — it will be a while before we have the new Toilet and Pedestal sink installed. Work will progress so we have hot and cold water to first floor tub & shower, hot and cold water to the kitchen sink and the outside faucet functioning so I can use the hoses.

Shops at Fayrehale Felted Wool Ornaments     Fayrehale New Toilet

The sink and toilet will remain stored in the dining room, shut off valves installed on their feeds, until the floor and other renovations are finished in the bathroom.  We are very fortunate to have a fixture source that offers higher end fixture close outs and were able to pick these up for 25% of original cost.

As we do this work, we are switching to an electric hot water heater!  Three strikes and the Lemon (expensive) gas hot water heater that we have is OUT!  This meant we need to run electricity from the breaker box in the barn across the Ell to the far side of the cellar under the main house!  Our Plumber suggested that we do it and save significant money!  Having done it, I would hate to have paid a professional to do it!!

Of the several possible route choices, we decided to take conduit along the inside of the front porch that connects the barn to the main house. A few feet along the side of the main house we can enter the cellar through the old gas heater vent!  Tom was here to help and it took us most of last Saturday.  We had to measure, cut and assemble the PVC conduit and then disassemble and feed the pieces over the wire in reverse order. Seven 90 degree joints were the most time consuming as we thread 50′ of wire through. The straight pieces were a breeze until we got to the last 25′ straight section which was epoxied together from another project. No need to epoxy the rest.  Once the wire was in the conduit, we installed from the front (barn) backwards to the main house.

Fayrehale conduit   Fayrehale conduit

Fayrehale conduit

A good job to have done and one that puts us that much closer to running hot water!

We continue to hatch and ship both Chantecler and Icelandic chicks. The incubator will be running non stop until fall.

Fayrehale Icelandic Chickens

I will never cease to marvel at the 21 day process that takes an egg and results in a healthy strong chick.  These Icelandic chicks are from our fertility check hatch and are being raised to stay here.

The only other significant news concerns the ending of a special chapter in my life! For several years, I was an active and very involved volunteer for Shops On Star located on Star Island, an island in the Isles of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire.  My most significant accomplishment/contribution was finding an Artist who could paint porcelain In the Style of Celia Thaxter!

Porcelain In The Style Of Celia Thaxter

She lives on her mountain top in New Hampshire and had a Star Island connection from her youth.  I searched unsuccessfully for three years before I found her. Her pieces are properly signed and annotated, but otherwise nearly impossible to distinguish from the original pieces that Celia Thaxter did herself!

Shops On Star is now under new leadership and headed in a different direction that does not include locally sourced, Artisan produced, selections like this fine porcelain.

Last week I took a trip to visit the Artist who has painted the Porcelain In the Style of Celia Thaxter for Shops On Star to deliver, personally, the news that Shops on Star will no longer be carrying this historic porcelain once the remaining inventory is sold on Island this season.

The highlight of the day, having deliver my news, was seeing the Aster place setting (minus the luncheon and salad plates which are not finished yet).

Porcelain Aster Place Setting In The Style of Celia Thaxter

This phenomenal place setting is part of a specially commissioned dinner service which the Artist will continue to fulfill and will ultimately have 14, 13 piece, place settings — all different Celia designs PLUS a large selection of platters, covered and uncovered serving dishes and a large tureen w/ under platter.

As you may remember, this follows the Woodbine and Rosa Rugosa place settings.

Porcelain Woodbine Place Setting In The Style of Celia Thaxter      Porcelain Rosa Rugosa Place Setting In The Style of Celia Thaxter

Woodbine                                                  Rosa Rugosa

Porcelain Dinner Service Place Settings In The Style of Celia Thaxter

This pretty much brings you up to date with the varied activities at Fayrehale. I would expect the next posting to be weeks out when the garden is well under way and I am back to sleeping out in the tent!

Life is Busy, Life is Good.


Ah! – April 11th – You Come & Go As You Commemorate Another Year In This Life’s Journey!

a pink package Birthday Present 2015

Yesterday I celebrated my 67th birthday.

This means I have completed 67 years of this life’s journey and am, today, starting my 68th year! I did not spend a lot of time reflecting yesterday as we were having a fun filled day celebrating this anniversary of my birth. Plenty has been written and shared at other times, in other postings. This entry just celebrates a marvelous day of discovery in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont!

67th Birthday cake    Birthday Beer

It had been my intent to prepare breakfast here before we headed out for our day as I knew Tom was taking me out to dinner. Tom had other plans and we went out for breakfast too.  I chose Anthony’s Diner in St. Johnsbury, VT as that was where we would starting our day’s activities.  It has been quite a while since we have gone out for breakfast so I was looking forward to a good, loaded omelet!  I was not disappointed! Breakfast was delicious.

Birthday Breakfast

Our first stop was the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium – 1302 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, VT.  I am embarrassed to admit that we have owned our Vermont home since 2003 and this is the first time we have visited this NEK landmark! Over the years we have heard great things and knew we should check it out for ourselves.  We finally did and all I am still saying is WOW – WOW – WOW !!!  A marvelous gem located just 10 miles north of us! A real positive for our guests when we finally have bedrooms renovated and ready!  It is a special place that you have to see to believe!!

Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium - 1302 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, VT      Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium - 1302 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, VT

Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium - 1302 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, VT      Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium - 1302 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, VT

Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium – 1302 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, VT

“The Fairbanks Museum was founded in 1889 by St. Johnsbury industrialist Franklin Fairbanks.

Inside our classic Victorian building, you’ll find a dazzling array of animals and artifacts, dolls and tools, shells and fossils, and much more! Take a trip through the cosmos in Vermont’s only public planetarium.

When Franklin Fairbanks opened the doors to this Museum in St. Johnsbury, Vermont over a century ago, he invited all of New England to see beyond the horizon by bringing exquisite examples of natural science and beautiful artifacts from around the world to his home town. His “cabinet of curiosities” grew to include our National Historic Register building, a triumph of Victorian architecture, the cornerstone of St. Johnsbury’s Victorian Main Street. Inside, our collections include some 175,000 objects includes:

  • 75,000 natural science specimens (mounted birds, mammals, reptiles and fish; insects; nests and eggs; shells; fossils; rocks and minerals; herbarium)
  • 95,000 historical artifacts (tools; toys; dolls; textiles; weapons; archival photographs and documents)
  • 5,000 ethnological items representing Oceania, the Near East, Africa, Egypt, Japan and native North America.”

We also included a show in the Planetarium so we could experience this portion of the Fairbanks Museum.

Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium - 1302 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, VT      Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium - 1302 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, VT

From the Museum we decided to walk over to the  St. Johnsbury Athenaeum stopping at the Secondhand Prose Book Shop on the way!  “Secondhand Prose sells quality used books at 1222 Main Street in St. Johnsbury, VT. The shop opened in October 2006 as a fundraising effort by the Friends of the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, on behalf of the library and art gallery across the road.”

Of course, we never visit book shops without succumbing to temptation! We each found three books we felt we could not do without:):)

The  St. Johnsbury Athenaeum is another marvelous gem located just 10 miles north of us!  For the Athenaeum we have another Fairbanks brother to thank! One brother is responsible for the Museum and another for the Anthenaeum!   Both built in the latter half of the 19th century and well before the Depression made a terrible impact on the Fairbanks’ fortunes.

Antheneum, St Johnsbury, VT      Antheneum, St Johnsbury, VT

Antheneum, St Johnsbury, VT      Antheneum, St Johnsbury, VT

The Athenaeum is named one of the five best
small museums in New England by Yankee Magazine

“The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum is a private, nonprofit public library and art gallery located in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The Athenaeum fills two roles: it serves the people of St. Johnsbury by enriching their lives, and it stands as a regional and national treasure – a monument to the nineteenth-century belief in learning. The Athenaeum is a legacy of the Fairbanks Family of St. Johnsbury, inventors and manufacturers of the world’s first platform scale, who gave the Athenaeum to the trustees of the institution in 1871. With his wealth Horace Fairbanks created a center of culture for the people of his town – a true “athenaeum.”

From here we journeyed north to Lyndonville, VT to visit another used book store. Green Mountain Books & Prints.  I did some browsing and reading and Tom found a book.

As a wonderful day drew to a close we headed out for dinner at Saltwater Bar & Bistro in Woodsville, NH.  STUFFED — after a great seafood feast! Started w/ Oysters on the half shell and steamed clams –Then: Fried whole belly clams & homemade onion rings (me) and Fried oysters & squash (Tom). We shared — and them we split a piece of freshly baked homemade coconut cake w/ cream cheese frosting w/ toasted coconut! OMG – still warm and delicious. Beer w/ ample head.

Today, we finally had a beautiful warm day! It was in the upper 60s !!! We took advantage of it and opened doors to the house and the Shop as we started cleaning and rearranging Shops At Fayrehale for this season.  It is hard to believe that a year ago we were painting empty shelves and still had to stain the floor and stock!!  This year, I am working hard to make everything fit!

Tom Cleaning Shops At Fayrehale      Tom Cleaning Shops At Fayrehale

Tom Cleaning Shops At Fayrehale

I do believe in having Handsome Help:)  and it is a bonus to be married to him!!!

This week I hope to get the front of the shop and house raked and cleaned up. I am ready for green grass! I need to turn my efforts from expanding our online sales inventory to working in the physical shop.

I need to make this 68th year a productive year as we never know how many more birth anniversaries we will get to celebrate,


BLESSED To Be The Age I Am !!!

I have been reflecting A LOT on my life  and the world as it now is —  particularly in the United States!

Next month it will be 67 years since I entered the world for this life’s journey!  67 years since that April day when I slipped from my Mother’s womb at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts with Dr. Robinson officiating.

James Trundy VerrillJames Trundy Verrill, 6 months of Age

I would be joined by three brothers, a single when I was 18 months and twins when I was 4.  That made a family of four boys with the oldest 4!

Life was so different back then!  We had no electronics. We played outside regardless of the season and enjoyed long winter days as much as the summer days. We played together and with the kids nearby.  We were taught to be polite and respectful. WE did not control the family as so many kids do today.  Our parents did not jump at our every whim and command/demand!  We were good kids, the things that resulted in punishment would be overlooked today  and usually concerned how we were treating each other and others!  Name calling, lying and swearing were never acceptable and we all had our mouths washed out with ivory soap to reinforce this! We brought home good grades, not because we were smart (we all were!) but because it was expected!

We interacted as a family and always sat down together for the evening meal! Together, at a table, no electronics!  and LOTS of conversation. We talked about our day, school, things we had heard or were curious about.  We had close relationships with our Grandparents even with one set 8 hours away and the other a full two day drive in this time prior to fast interstate highways. We wrote letters, read books and had responsibilities at home that were expected to be accomplished without discussion and without reminders.  They were garden, lawn and household chores that were our responsibility as members of the family — our contribution!

We spent two weeks each summer at Star Island, visited both sets of Grandparents and spent time with family friends at our place and theirs.

Television entered the picture along the way – black & white – and very limited!  Basically Disney World and Wagon Train and an occasional Saturday Sky King or Flicker before we were out to play. We entertained ourselves, built forts and secret club houses (complete with funnel urinal) renovated a small barn for some bottle lambs we were given using a hand saw and salvaged lumber and nails.

We were not given everything we asked for, as kids often are today, and seldom asked! We were taught to work and save for what we wanted and required to do so. The lessons started  when I was 4! I wanted a regular two wheel bike. We were living short term in Horseheads, NY and the Good Humor truck came by daily — ringing that ice cream bell that had all the kids running with their dimes! Mother sat me down and talked to me about how many 10 cent ice creams equaled the bike I wanted and offered me a choice! I chose the bike.

We all played musical instruments and participated in school concert and marching bands. I was editor of my class’s yearbook.  College was never a question — we just always knew that was the next step for each of us.

I was aware of politics and loved our history as a Country. I remember sneaking to watch the Kennedy / Nixon debates and shutting the television off when my parents drove in the drive!  Back then the televisions took forever to totally shut off – that damn, long lasting, tattling point of light in the center of the black screen!  One side of the family was Conservative Republican and the other Liberal Democrat !  This was in the day when both sides were honorable and respected.  When even as a Liberal Democrat I  LOVED sitting in the Senate Gallery and listening to Republican Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen filibuster.

Verrill Boys 1966, I am seated, My Senior Year in HS

It was my love of government and politics that had me choosing The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. – Four wonderful years where the Library of Congress was my library! and one could walk in to the Senate Dining Room and order lunch — The bean soup was famous as well as delicious and I never knew who would be at the next table or what conversations I would over hear. Great years for education and to be in Washington!

It was a Gay baby boy that was delivered in to the world that day nearly 67 years ago!  Times were different back then and being Gay was not okay!

During my` years at The George Washington University I considered for the first time actually telling my family. Wanting so desperately to just be me and assuming I was loved enough to be accepted in this new light. Just before I garnered enough courage to do so, my next brother who was straight and a marvelously gifted musician, announced that he planned to go to Julliard and study music. I was in our library that fateful day when Mother forbade him to pursue those plans because “only queers went into music”. BAM! Two sons shot down at once. I wasn’t prepared at that time to lose my family.

And thus the idyllic world of my youth transitioned to adulthood.  Number 14 in the First Draft Lottery meant four years in the USAF and thwarted plans for law school and politics. This was the beginning of the unraveling of our country – The protesting and the total lack of appreciation for anyone serving in the military.

Honorable discharge and two new small businesses with one of my brothers on the Maine Coast – “Peaslee Park Antiques” and “The Christmas Shop” – Both would come full circle 40 years later with our opening Shops At Fayrehale: Antiques, Christmas, Gifts.  A good 20 year Marriage with Sharon and the adoption of two girls (12 & 15) with me having a major positive role to play in each of their lives. Masters Degrees in both Education and in Counseling and Human Development, both used to work very successfully with Emotionally Handicapped Students.  Divorce (for reasons other than my being Gay), Coming Out, finally! and in the Ice Storm of 1998 meeting the man who is now my Husband.

It is hard to pinpoint the beginnings of the destruction of the world I grew up in. The assassination of a President? The resignation of another? The election of a President who advocated trickle down economics and started the bleeding to death of the middle class? The court enthroning of another who would start unpaid for wars for oil and give tax breaks to those who did not need them?  I guess it has been a gradual 50 year decline that accelerated  over the last 15 years.

Today we find a Country and society so divided that the two sides can not talk and/or work together. A society that has separated from one another and lost all sense of compassion for others!  Families are run by the children who start as toddlers to dictate what the family will do and it is all kid centered. Parents no longer parent – they run themselves ragged catering to every whim and demand of of the children they brought in to the world and turned in to Monsters! (NOT all!!  I know some good parents who are raising some responsible children but they are unfortunately a small minority)

Families no longer sit down for regular meals and if they do, far too often the electronics come to the table!  Creativity is no longer encouraged and heaven help those who think outside the box or question those in power.  There is no privacy. Little sense of community and connection and far to little sincere caring for those less fortunate.  It has become an instant gratification world where kids are passed everything they want and have no concept of working and saving. They have lost most connection with their food sources and with nature.

Manners and respect seem to be part of history!  “Please”, “thank you”, “how may I help you” and holding doors all part of the past. There is a big void in life that causes many to turn to drugs and crime.. A hollowness that results from being isolated from the people around them (close around them) and from nature! A hollowness enhanced by having no role in family survival, no chores and no responsibilities

YES!  I am BLESSED To Be The Age I Am !!!    I do not even want to imagine what life will be for those currently in their 20s & 30s and their children, over the next 60-70 years and I have no regrets that I will not be here to experience it.

I find myself fighting to stay aware of news that is no longer news – it is all Media Manipulation – fighting to resist letting my Noah John Rondeau side triumph and turning this beautiful small spot in Vermont in to my Walden!   Connection with nature and animals helps me stay sane in an insane world. Sleeping outside seasonally nourishes my Soul.

Electonics do let me connect virtually with the like minded people that are scattered far and wide.. That is the problem, scattered when life would be enhanced by clustering. The Hippies knew something when they gathered in communes in the 60s.

I do not know how much time I have left in this Life’s Journey and when I come back for the next one, I would prefer it be elsewhere. I see nothing to be gained by coming back to the United States!

One side of the family passed over at 72 and the other lived well into their late 80s and 90s.  Assuming I can average out those two extremes, I have some more years left and those will best be spent continuing to develop as high a level of sustainability as possible on this small piece of land we hold for the short term and getting rooms in the house renovated so we are able to have like minded people pass through and stay a spell.

James Trundy Verrill

As I prepare next month to start my 68th year, I can smell Spring and there is hope!  NOT hope for the world that was, as that is gone forever, but hope that I can continue to create a good life here and stay connected as personally as possible to similarly connected folks for the years I have left.


We Are Proud Of How We Ship – Shops At Fayrehale – Orders

My apologies to regular readers who may not be interested in this specific post. I attempted to title it in such a way that you could skip opening it when you received your email notification if you were not interested. We have included a special video at the very end that will make you think of and hear Spring:) Scroll down if you are not interested in how we prepare packages for mailing.

We take an enormous amount of pride in Shops At Fayrehale: Antiques, Christmas, Gifts  and now that we are offering online shopping, that pride extends to how we prepare online orders for shipping.  It is very important to us that the items you purchase be carefully and attractively packed. As the package travels to you, it represents us and we want that representation to be a very positive one.

We use a FLAT RATE shipping of $8.95 for online orders. We are not trying to make money with mailing costs and we do not cut corners when it costs us more! 

We Are Proud Of How We Ship - Shops At Fayrehale - Orders   We Are Proud Of How We Ship - Shops At Fayrehale - Orders

We use regular Priority Mail when possible. Many of our more fragile Artisan Ornaments  are already boxed.  If they are not we box them.  The first step is to wrap the item with tissue paper to keep it clean.

We Are Proud Of How We Ship - Shops At Fayrehale - Orders   We Are Proud Of How We Ship - Shops At Fayrehale - Orders

Next, we wrap with flat foam sheeting in each direction

We Are Proud Of How We Ship - Shops At Fayrehale - Orders   We Are Proud Of How We Ship - Shops At Fayrehale - Orders

The items are then wrapped with bubble wrap and folded bubble wrap is placed in the bottom of the box.  At this stage, the items are basically wrapped and protected to bulk the size of the box.  A slight nudge allows the top flaps to be closed and taped.  There is no movement as the items are suspended in a protective cocoon.  Basically the same procedures are followed for all orders.  The box size and contents change.

We Are Proud Of How We Ship - Shops At Fayrehale - Orders   We Are Proud Of How We Ship - Shops At Fayrehale - Orders

The package is then addressed and mailed.  We place one of our rack cards on the back if space permits. It looks nice and let’s be honest, we hope to attract many eyes as the package travels!  We use a business card for our return address for a similar reason along with the fact it is crisp and clear.  Addresses are copied and pasted from your order to ensure we make no typographical errors. They are black, bold and very clear. We want the package to reach you without delay.

We carefully protect all addresses and personal information!  The only address we ever divulge is the one shown above.

Santa Claus could not accomplish Christmas without Shops At Fayrehale!

He is a primary customer.


And now, as promised at the beginning a short video to help you dream of and hear Spring.  This is a small hatch that we will keep here at Fayrehale. All but three are Icelandics, the other three are Chantecler.  The Icelandics are by a White Cock that appeared last year. It looks like there will be six white chicks!  We will maintain these in a separate pen as we do not want white to take over our flock.

SORRY can not get video clip to load.  Will have to work on it later.


2015 Is Off To A Good Start As The End of January Approaches

Shops At Fayrehale Wreath with Cardinal Tin

Shops At Fayrehale Entrance

If things continue to progress smoothly, and that is IF!!!!!, we will be ready to launch our online shopping feature for Shops At Fayrehale tonight.

Update:  We went live at 8:40PM

It has been a long, time consuming project as Tom worked the backside with his IT expertise and I input product from the front end. A BIG learning curve for me — at times a very frustrating experience!  It is just a start.  I have loaded enough product to hopefully show the diverse, varied and often unique range of the products we offer.  I will keep adding and expanding the selection.


When it comes to Antiques, we select items that make great gifts. One doesn’t have to be a collector of Antiques to appreciate the beauty, the substance, the continued usability of items from the past.  Antiques are a very Green Gift!

We use Individual Artisans for our Christmas Ornaments and Candles.  We stay as local as we can and use many Vermont Artisans but we do go further afield when necessary to find the items we want to offer. Regardless of how local an Artisan is, they are all gifted artisans working hard to make each individual piece.

Having just discovered two gifted Vermont Candlemakers, we will be expanding our candle selections. The candles listed as the site launches are hand dipped from one of the candlemakers.  We soon will be adding 100%  individually molded beeswax candles from the second candlemaker…some figural and some utilitarian. PLUS some beeswax ornaments that will be reminiscent of Germany and the Victorian Era.

Beeswax figural candles

We have found a Vermont artisan who is in the process of making felted ornaments w/ Vermont wool for Shops At Fayrehale !

felted ornaments

and another Vermont Artisan is preparing beautiful Temari ornaments for us!

temari ornaments

We are communicating with a Vermont Artisan who creates delightful ornaments from small gourds  and another Artisan in Connecticut who does quilted ball ornaments. Not sharing pictures of these two selections now as we have not established that we will actually be carrying them in Shops At Fayrehale.  I will post them when we know for sure!

Nothing can replace a personal visit to Shops At Fayrehale. We would love to see you all, personally, when you visit Vermont. For those who are unable to make that visit and in between visits, we hope you will make Shops At Fayrehale  your “go to” site for online shopping — whether for yourself or to gift.  We hope you will bookmark us and watch for additions and of course we would love to have you share us with your friends.

Once we launch, many different sets of eyes will be perusing the products. Thousands of proof readers!  We have been careful and have checked back and forth between ourselves but I know there have been bleary eyed misses!  Please don’t hesitate to send us an email – – when you notice a typo we missed!

I am already looking at seed catalogs as I plan and dream about this year’s gardens — We cut way back last year as getting Shops At Fayrehale open and off the ground was the all consuming priority.  Now we can have some balance return to life.  With the buzzer system we have, I can be in the garden (south side of the barn where Shops At Fayrehale is located) and still know when customers arrive.

Right now we are 30 minutes away from a hoped for 8PM launch. I have to see how Tom is coming along (in NY).  He has a few things to do once we go live and then I will announce it on Facebook.  Our Facebook page is public and you should be able to look at it even if not a member.  The photo files have lots of pictures and thus you can see items that may never make it online. We can’t present everything, though I will continue to add a few products every day.

Signing off for tonight.  It is currently 5 degrees and headed for 9 BELOW:)  Looking like we will be on the upper edge of tomorrow night’s storm. Fine with me!  I would much rather shovel 1-3″ of snow that 12-18″.


Thankful EVERY Day! – Not Just Thanksgiving Day!

It has been nearly two months since my last post.  A busy two months with a beautiful Autumn passing as cold and snow arrive.

SAF nov 17th 2

I have always  known, that regardless of the issues and problems in my/our life/lives, the majority of people in the world would switch places with me in an instant  and take all my problems too!  A good, long time friend sent me an eye opening slide show recently which described the world’s population in comprehensible terms!  It is based on 100 people  and then all the ratios/percentages of the whole world are applied to these 100!

IF you have a little money in the bank, in your wallet or a few coins in your purse you are one of eight out of the hundred!  Eye opening.

The news further makes me realize I am fortunate regardless of the current hurdles in life I am dealing with.  I do not live in Buffalo w/ 7 feet of snow imprisoning me in my home.  I am not Black so there is less of a chance I will be shot. I am descended from immigrants who arrived in 1622 and lucky not to be an immigrant today!  I am a 31 year cancer survivor as I am surrounded by people I know and care about currently fighting serious cancers.  I have a roof over my head, some food to eat and heat to sit buy while far too many are homeless, hungry and cold.

The list goes on and on. It saddens me to see how selfish this Country has become. NOT everyone —  but far to0 many — the many who seem to have the major news outlets for their mouthpiece.  As a Country we have lost our compassion.  That means those of us who do care must be aware and do whatever we can, regardless of how little that is.

It need not be money, when there is no extra money, it can be personal, connected support.  Visit, call, write someone that will smile because you took a minute to care.

Remember that The Face of Poverty Has Changed!   Look beyond the facades left from better times.  See what is really going on with your family, friends and neighbors!  CARE!

So many reasons for us all to be Thankful EVERY Day!  –  Not Just Thanksgiving Day!

We continue to build  Shops At Fayrehale as the summer and foliage visitors are gone and we turn to developing a local clientele.

show KC 3

                                       Peacham Corner Guild Christmas Show

  (Photo by photographer Kelly Clow)

We did the two day Peacham Guild Christmas Show the very end of October.  This was 7 miles away from Shops At Fayrehale and introduced us to over 1000 local area people. Some from that show have already stopped by the Shop.

stove 2

Pellet Stove Is Vented

The pellet stove is functioning well and for now we are keeping the shop between 40 and 50 degrees.  That seems comfortable for customers who are already bundled up.

 candles 2candles 2

VERMONT Hand Dipped Candles!

I had given up on finding a quality hand dipped candle that was smokeless, dripless and burned an inch an hour!  Years ago in an earlier Christmas Shop in Searsport, Maine, I sold Williamsburg Candles. They went out of business when they could no longer compete with the candles from China. THEN, when I was at a product show in New Hampshire I discovered a Vermont source.  Talk about excitement.  We have added a selection this year and will be expanding our inventory next year.

SAF Nov16th

Evening Lighting

We are staying open until 6PM everyday until Christmas.  Thinking that for Jan-Mar we will be open Fri-Sun and by chance or appointment. I do not foresee traffic warranting heating the shop all week in the dead of winter.

Coupon Ad

Advertisement Running For The Next Two Weeks

We announced on our Facebook Page  and I will repeat here! Our online readers and followers can have the same opportunity  (starting now – until December 1st) to use the local coupon.  There are ample pictures in the photo files of  our Facebook Page for you to see our ornament selections.

Ornament mailing fees
United States:
1 or 2 ornaments $6.95 – Priority Mail
3 or 4 ornaments $11.25 – Priority Mail

We do regular postings on our Shops At Fayrehale: Antiques, Christmas, Gifts facebook page and following us there will keep you up to date on this segment of our lives!


It could well be next year! before I post another entry here. Meanwhile, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving with Family and Friends (Hope you do not shop on Thanksgiving!) and the Merriest Christmas possible.

Please remember to be Thankful EVERY Day!  –  Not Just Thanksgiving Day! and to be aware of those around you who can use some compassion and support.


Labor Day Flies By as Autumn Swiftly Approaches

There are patches of red appearing here and there on the trees already!  How did that happen? 2014 has flown by and I think part of that is age! (the older we are the faster time seems to pass) and part is how out of balance our lives have been this year as we concentrated on opening Shops at Fayrehale.



The Shops At Fayrehale will continue to be the primary focus as we finish out 2014 and then bring balance back in to our lives in 2o15!  We were fortunate to be invited to participate in the Peacham Corner Guild Annual Christmas Show in Peacham, Vermont this year.  This successful annual event will expose us to 1000 local people with two months to go before Christmas.  Exactly the exposure we need as a new business working to be known locally.  Already planning our display which will be planned and set up here before being dismantled and transported to Peacham for the two day show.

I discovered a great old postcard from the past as I was looking for local items that might be of interest in the Shop or at the Show.


Talk about excited!  I could not believe my luck!  What a marketing tool. I added the line across the bottom and then searched the internet for a postcard back that did not say “affix 1 cent stamp here” !


While looking for feedback on a rack card I was designing, I had a friend ask me why I didn’t use a QR code!  Prior to that, I knew nothing about them!  A quick education for me and Tom said he could generate the codes.  It is obvious that in this age of smart phones we have to go higher tech!  My first thought was to place the code in the stamp corner and then I realized it would be covered (lost) when the card was mailed.  So the solution was to double down!  Primary QR code is for the Shops Facebook Page as that is where the frequent updates are. That was placed center bottom so always visible and scannable. The secondary QR code is for the website and that will be covered by a stamp if the card is mailed.

IF I have your address in my files you will probably receive one in the mail.

We still needed a serious piece of marketing literature as we build our exposure. I considered a tri-fold brochure to distribute to B&Bs, Motels, Information Centers etc. and after pricing and pondering, realized that a two sided rack card would do everything we needed at a substantially reduced cost per piece. I used Vista Print to create a rough draft and then posted the draft images online and sent them in an email to others for feedback.

Marvelous feedback came back to me from many people with varied backgrounds. I am fortunate to have a network of friends and associates to assist me prior to my finalizing the design and printing.  SIX draft modifications later, the finished design was ready to print and it will do what we need it to do.

Final FrontFinal Back

                          Final Front Design                                     Final Back Design

I must tell you about the exceptional customer service Vista Print provided over the Labor Day Holiday weekend!  I e-mailed them several times to discuss the QR codes being distinct enough for printing.  They responded every time in less than  24 hours (I wasn’t expecting any response until after the weekend) They clarified the codes at their end and they now reside in our image files.  Both post and rack cards are being printed. I am excited about receiving them.

As I am still on activity restriction while abdominal healing occurs, I feel productive as I get things accomplished that take hours and hours but are not physically strenuous.  Just finished a small article on including locally produced consumable specialties in smaller retail shops.  A long shot! Nice exposure if published in a retail gift shop magazine.

Cmas 2

Still working on pictures to submit with the article and they may  drive me crazy as I work to create some good marketing shots!

Click, Click, Click, then Pick, Pick, Pick!

The green stocking is the wrong angle, the doll needs to sit up, the light is wrong, oops!, crooked ornament in the background….. and on and on and on!

Through the eye of a camera we see the flaws:):)

Cmas 4

Back at it tomorrow with a fresh eye!

On a more personal note, I have decided that 2015 will be the last year we hatch and ship chicks on a large scale.  The White Chantecler will remain part of our lives as we keep our flock for our own use (eggs and meat) and possibly some small local sales/sharing. We have done our part to preserve this great Canadian Heritage breed  that nearly disappeared and are ready to just enjoy having backyard chickens again.

2015 will also see our gardens back in production.  Nature blessed us w/ abundant fruit this year and next year we will have that balanced with abundant vegetables.

Immediate priorities right now are getting some wood stacked, getting the pellet stove in the Shop vented to the outside and getting the first floor of the house in suitable condition for a very special cousin who is visiting the beginning of October.

May Autumn slow down Old Man Winter so I have plenty of time before I hunker down !



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