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Thursday, June 30

Sterling visit Day 2 (Monday June 6)

I've just had the most wonderful day; it was a day that maybe didn't begin well but definitely closed with comfort and renewed excitement!

Mostly it was my stressing about the residence situation that started the day a little sour--as I have mentioned, this trip has thus far been nothing but clear messages from God telling me that I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. So I knew shortly after waking with this demon of stress trying to break me down, that it was just that, a weak attempt from the one below trying to distract me back onto a path of confusion, discomfort, and doubt. I realized last night as i was preparing for bed that I definitely can't live here at Phyllis' lovely little house no matter how much it feels like it could be a home. Okay, understandably I can't and won't be bringing a lot of stuff out here (to Steve's inevitable disappointment) but there is no closet in this tiny room and the only clothing storage available is a small chest of drawers which quite honestly, could never contain a Vermont winter's worth of necessary layers. Plus, as far as study space here, the only space that would really be conducive would be the great room (because it really is great; I mean just look at the view!) but knowing that it is mainly for the B&B guests, I don't know how often I would be allowed to use it or if it would even be feasible as far as productive studying goes while guests are here. Finally, although I think I am okay with the idea of sharing bathing space with a roommate or a floor or roommates (definitely not down for sharing with the boys though... Please be in prayer for and with me that I get the "dorm" assignment I'm desperately wanting/needing!) I just don't think I'd be okay with sharing this tiny bathroom with miscellaneous guests as they come and go throughout the year.

So I'm headed over to Sterling with this weighing on me and the dread that I'll be put in those dorms--last night after the rain, I took myself for a walk down to what Sterling calls "the lower dorms" and what Phyllis literally warned me about. I didn't even cross the field to take a closer look because even from the road, I could see how scary they are......... Oh God, PLEASE!

So, I finally got to meet Kate today and it was awesome to finally put a face with the name! I've been in contact with this woman for a few months now, I felt as though I was coming into Sterling with an "already friend," but one I'd not yet met. Kate and I spent  a bit of time together this morning chatting, getting questions answered, and making vital introductions--like meeting Barb Stuart the financial aid lady (interjection: that FAT grant I've been blessed with, according to Barb, won't shrink at all as long as I'm at Sterling and my EIC doesn't increase which is near impossible because I won't be making much if anything while I'm up there!) and Jodi Stoddard, the fiber and farmstead arts instructor. Let me tell you, that meeting was quite literally life changing! By the end of our brief 20 minute meeting, Jodi opened my eyes to exactly what it is that I've been looking for and never actually realized. Because of Jodi and what she's brought to the Sterling table, I have decided officially to design my own major incorporating both the originally planned Sustainable Agriculture but also with an equally heavy focus in Farmstead Arts! I cannot even put to words the feeling this brought upon me; it was like a door had been thrown open before me with a blindingly inviting light behind it and a weight I didn't even know I was carrying was lifted! Take a moment and imagine this: when was the last time in your life that you were pushed in the right direction and standing at the door of the rest of your life without even knowing how you got there? When was the last time you felt the utter relief "I'm on the right path for real this time" without realizing that you were even concerned about it?

Okay, so enough with the babble, let's get some pictures going! This is going to be a record long post--but I'm not sorry about it. [Please remember, the full photo albums of this trip can be found on my Facebook page but I will also be posting the links direct to each individual days photos each day I write about it]

Sterling Visit Day 2 photos

We started my tour with the highly anticipated farm; I AM IN LOVE! No questions asked, I am in the right place and space here; I am so excited and happy and purely confident in my decision.

This is the view from the top of the hill walking down to the barns

This is called a hoop house--think greenhouse without the energy needs; it's passive solar energy!
Big Brother Llama "watching over" the kids and wee lambs

Not surprisingly, I went nuts over the babies. I can't wait for the opportunities to take afternoon naps with these little softies!

Hands down, my favorite little lamby--I've decided her name is Rachel
The barns; admittedly I'm a little disappointed they're not Barn Red like all the others in Vermont. But I'm very fond of the dusty blue, feels appropriate still.

They squeal just like I've always imagined; but I never imagined I would fall in love with the little porkies!

I am completely awed by these creatures; I'm purely infatuated with them. In love like I never thought I would be with horses; they are majesty embodied.
Lunch today was a mouth watering goat cheese and roasted vegetable open-faced sandwich on freshly baked bread (which I don't know for sure but, I think and hope it was baked in the wood fire brick over out back); I shamelessly gorged myself. 

And then I went to class (I was actually on campus all day today, it was quite loverly! I left this morning at 9am and didn't retunr till 10:30 this evening)! I was in the farmstead arts class for the entire afternoon; I actually planned to only stay for a few hours because I didn't want to be in the way and I was getting kind of bored just watching the students make their baskets--what I should have done was bring along my knitting then I would have been totally contented to stay in the class for the day without the ADD fidgets. However, to my very pleasant surprise, one of the students have enough materials that she offered them to me so I got in with the rest of the class and made a basket today!  
Well, started one...
It was just wonderful sitting in on the class today; I am fascinated by all of the things the students will be doing in Farmstead Arts. This class is all encompassing and I got to take a look at the syllabus today for their summer semester: last week they made fresh Rhubarb chutney which I had the opportunity to try today for a little snack--more fresh baked bread with the chutney, so. delicious. Then they've been working on the baskets for the last 2 weeks as well; they felled their own Black Ash tree and spent an entire class last Thursday beating it so that they could pull and split the strips for today's construction class. I mean just look at that! How smooth and even and "manufactured" those wood strips look! Throughout the semester the students will be learning different drying methods for herbs (long-term storage) and flowers (tea?), sun-drying fruits and veggies (mmm, I cannot even tell you how excited I am for the day that I am eating my very own sun-dried tomatoes and feeding my kids homemade sun-dried fruit leathers) and even meats and dairy--yes, they're going to experiment with making their own cottage cheeses! I'm a little leery of this but also king of wish I had been there during that week to test/see the outcome of that one! They'll be learning to make  some household/cosmetic products with beeswax (oh yeah, I didn't get pictures of them but there are 2 hives on campus so I'll have the opportunities to learn all about "bee-hiving" or whatever tending-to-bees is actually called; again, I can't wait to be eating my own harvested truly local honey from our very own farm honey bees!)

So at the end of the day, although I wasn't nearly hungry after the fantabulous lunch Sterling fed me (oh and another note of worth: Sterling serves not only a vegetarian option for every meal served on campus, but vegan options as well! I'm so impressed! They also feed us 3 square meals a day 7 DAYS A WEEK but put out morning and afternoon snack tables for those drive-by munchie needs. I love this school, have I mentioned that yet?) I took myself out to Hardwick for more explore and for dinner, eventually.
I wound up stopping into a little local bookshop called Galaxy Books and again, everything surrounding that choice was purely a God-thing. Kate had told me about Galaxy this morning while we were chatting and I made sure to write it down but it just didn't stick--I was so consumed with the negativity of the living situation, I apparently couldn't get past it. I'm past it now but that's only because of my unexpected hour and half visit with Sarah tonight in Stardust books but I'll get to that... So I'm strolling around Hardwick--all four blocks of it--planning all along to go to Claire's for dinner but because I wasn't hungry yet, I went in search of internet elsewhere. Initially I passed Galaxy (twice) thinking, "I don't want to just use their internet without buying a book and I don't need or want to buy a book" (although, I have heard a lot about a book and discovered/realized it was written by a local author about this very town; The Town That Food Saved by Ben Hewitt. Still, I didn't want to buy it new when I know I can find it used for a fraction of the cost). But, for lack of an alternative, I went in anyway. What a treat! I not only wanted to buy almost every book int he place, I had a lovely conversation with Linda, the owner, who invited me back tomorrow night for a reading and book singing of Mr. Hewitt's newest book Making Supper Safe (this is one of the many, many things I love up here--it's not dinner, it's supper--just like back home in Minnesota. It feels warm and cozy). AND, I found an amazing vintage picture book of The Velveteen Rabbit for only $2.00; of course I bought it.
This is exactly what I'm talking about this trip being chock-full of messages from above; and much of this trip has felt like Gramma--Phyllis immediately reminding me of my beautiful Gramma; the way the air smells sweet because it's thickly perfumed with the lilac trees in bloom right now; the farm and the fresh baked bread; and how I keep laughing to myself over the joke between my mom and I that Gramma would be, no IS laughing at me for not only wanting to become a farmer but that I'm going to school for it! Yet, even though Gramma is up there giggling to herself over it, she's so proud of and happy for me that I know she's sitting right next to Him watching this new adventure I'm on, just as excited for me as I am.

Gramma, I miss you more than I let myself realize everyday. Thank you for being up there, watching over me, and loving me as purely as you do. Thank you for providing what you have and what you still are; please never leave my side and know that I strive to make you proud in my every step. I love you!

Then dinner, I'm sorry, supper at Claire's of Hardwick--the most delectable restaurant in town serving only locally grown all natural and organic foods whipped together into naughty and heavenly meals. I wound up spending several hours at this place truly enjoying a meal by myself. I took my time ordering and I didn't pound my beer; which was a pumpkin Woodchuck cider! [Okay, quick side story--I've been consuming this "beer" in much larger quantities than I really want to admit for the past few (read:several) weeks and only just a day or two before leaving for this Vermont trip read on the label "crafted and bottled in Vermont"! NO KIDDING! And I love all the small batch flavored brews of their's that I've tried thus far but pumpkin?! You've got to be kidding me! I LOVE PUMPKIN ANYTHING so there was NO WAY I was leaving without having on of these!]  

...just thinking about it....

And this my friends is what I had the pure pleasure of eating for supper: homemade linguini with roasted farm fresh eggplant, zucchini, and other veggies smothered in aged Vermont white cheddar and local fresh herbed cream sauce. Yes, you are absolutely allowed to take me out to supper here every night of your visits.

The sign coming home from Hardwick

So, I missed the folk concert that was hosted by Sterling due to delighting at Claire's but took my time strolling back home to the Bricabode. This presented yet another near missed encounter--it's nine at night and as I'm walking back to the house (after hoping I could catch the end of the show but knowing full well, in this tiny town, it's also definitely a sleepy one which, don't mistake me, I'm absolutely grateful for considering) I notice the little Stardust bookstore and coffee shop is all lit up, the door is open, and there's someone inside behind the counter. I thought the bookstore closed at 4 everyday, so why does it look so open? My curiosity got the best of me and I walked in. I asked if it was open to which the woman responded "no, I'm just doing the checkbook but you can look around if you'd like" I told her I didn't want to be a bother, especially if she's working on the books. She insisted that it wouldn't be an issue and asked if I was a Sterling student; "well, not yet but I've been accepted for the fall and am here for the week--"
"Oh, Amanda! It's Sarah!" We had a laugh, the lights in the place are just so that you can't see the faces of someone at the door or the person behind the desk from just inside the door. I wound up chatting with Sarah and confessing my distracting stresses about the housing situation for an hour and a half (hence not making it back home till 10:30). Sarah didn't just listen, she heard what I had to say, why I was worried about where I would potentially be living, and why it isn't just "princess-syndrome." Sarah discussed the issues with me and without promising anything, told me that everything I had concerns about, being an older student, and being a more mature "house-keeper," she didn't see why my getting a housing placement in Houston House would be impossible as I've been told thus far. Then she promised to give me what will basically be a secondary private tour tomorrow which will include seeing actual dorm rooms in the "upperclassmen" dorm buildings, including Houston and a one-on-one meeting with the woman in charge of room and dorm assignments! Who gets that kind of treatment!? I'm so honored for the respect and the opportunities. I've been apologetic for my "private" treatment but everyone so far as told me not to apologize, in fact, they wished more students--especially the adults--would plan extended trips as I have because it's just not realistic to get a true feel for the place in the typical one-hour campus tour.

So at the end of the day, my worries were calmed, my belly fully and comforted, and my heart is bursting with renewed enjoyment and excitement!


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