Happy Thanksgiving

Sometimes it’s easy to say the words without really giving much thought to their meaning, to think of turkey and a table full of side dishes, leftovers and some over-indulgence. Black Friday and Internet Monday; a day with family and friends or a day off from work (hopefully) or school. But this year it seems there is so much more to be thankful for, given what’s been happening in the world beyond our lovely little piece of paradise that is the Mad River Valley. So I give thanks for all the things that sometimes I take for granted, because really, I shouldn’t. I’m grateful for the roof over my head and for my wife and our children, whom I adore. I’m grateful that my children are healthy, that they do not know hunger, and that they have a comfortable pillow to lay their heads on at night. I’m thankful for the schools in our community, where our children are safe and attend without fear of persecution; for the tireless hours the teachers and staff commit in giving our children the gift of knowledge and tolerance. I’m grateful that the cacophony of gunfire and bombs are sounds that I have never known. I’m thankful for my job and to those who have trusted me to work for them. I’m thankful for my health, and that of my family, my friends, my nearest and dearest. I’m thankful that I can move about the tiny world that I call home freely, without fear of retribution because of how I “look” or who I worship or what I believe to be true in...

Celebrating the 4th in the Mad River Valley

It’s almost time to get your Red, White and Blue on, and the 4th of July in the Mad River Valley is worth the price of admission. The parade in Warren is not your typical parade – there may be some emergency vehicles and fast cars in there, but you won’t find any Marching Bands or Shriners driving itty-bitty cars (what’s that all about anyway?). You will find political statements coming out the wahzoo, you might find some African dancing, you will definitely see an intricate float display from one of our iconic communities, yes, there will be candy, and probably a giant soaking gun and maybe, just maybe there will be Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders. In the past, he’s been a staple of the Warren Parade, and there’s a bit of chatter going on around this year: will he be there or won’t he? My prediction is: Yes, he will be there. Oh and there will be what is my wife’s favorite part of the Parade: a fly by from our Vermont Air National Guard. Once the parade has passed – make your way up to the Brooks Field at the Warren Elementary School for food, music and kid friendly festivities. Since the 4th is on a Saturday, don’t forget to visit the Waitsfield Farmer’s Market. If you’re here Friday night getting ready to wave your flag on the 4th, I highly recommend having dinner at Mad River Glen’s General Stark’s Pub (or any summer weekend evening for that matter)  – that deck is just as awesome in the summer as it is in the winter And as...

Understanding the language of real estate – what did that Realtor just say to me?

Real estate agents (we call them licensees, for reasons that will become clear later on) licensed in the State of Vermont are required to take 24 hours of Continuing Education courses every two years in order to maintain their license. The Vermont Real Estate Commission, which is made up of 3 real estate brokers, 1 salesperson, an attorney and 2 members of the general public, have established that this is a reasonable amount of training to keep Licensees and Brokers up to speed with the ever changing rules and regulations of our industry. The truth is, this is a bare minimum to someone just starting in the business. Like most rookie licensees in the beginning, I had just passed my real estate licensing exam when I started working in the business and I was exempt from any required  course work for two years (this is no longer the case). I did, however, take a Code of Ethics class right away, which the National Association of Realtors requires of its membership upon entering into their fraternity. It was a four hour course that could have been taught in greek for all I understood about the language they were speaking. So it occurred to me that if Realtors speak a different language, it’s possible that the consumers they serve could be as confused as I was, and perhaps it would make sense to provide a bit of translation. So from time to time I will do so, most notably as the questions arise in my day-to-day activities working as a broker in the Mad River Valley real estate industry. What exactly...

Lending a hand in the Mad River Valley

Sure, I can help you with that. As American Flatbread prepares to celebrate their 30th anniversary by throwing a huge party for those who volunteer in our community, I thought it might be a good moment to think about those who volunteer, and what they mean to communities like ours. I moved to the Mad River Valley because I felt an immediate connection to the place on my first visit while I was in College. Some friends had moved here, I visited a few times, and the next thing I knew, I was living here. Initially I didn’t give an awful lot of thought to what it was about this place that I loved so much. On the surface it was clear – I loved skiing, and there was a lot of great skiing here. I grew up canoeing, and there was terrific paddling everywhere you looked. I was learning to mountain bike, and sure enough, a growing community of mountain bikers existed here. Check. check. check. But this was the most unique place I had ever lived, yet there is skiing and mountain biking everywhere. What made this place so great? I suppose at the time it may have been that it was the first place I had ever lived where people were different than where I grew up. They were people who chose the outdoors over the indoors, put recreation and lifestyle before career, accepted that one may need to work a few jobs in order to commit to that healthy outdoor lifestyle over all else. Where I came from people thought I was a nut for...

Spring into Summer in Vermont’s Mad River Valley

So here we are, the epic winter of 2015 behind us, and now it’s time to revel in all that Vermont has to offer in the warmer months. It’s one of the many things that I love about Vermont – the distinct seasons. Taking me from the highs of our mountain tops deep with snow, to the lows of our valley floors flowing with clear water. Having youngish kids, we spend as much time around the rivers as we can – this time of year, it’s mostly skipping rocks, but I bet the water will be warm enough for swimming on a hot day not too long from now. There are miles of easy walking trails around the valley – many of them right along the Mad River. If you’re not familiar with the many trailheads that provide access to those walks, you can find them here: on the Mad River Path website. If you’re looking for a more challenging hike – we’ve got plenty of those as well. Where to even begin with those options. Only have an hour or so? Then the hike to Sunset Rock in Warren, Vermont is the way to go. Looking for a hike that takes a half a day or so – then Burnt Rock in Fayston Vermont is a nice hike that rewards with some spectacular views at the top. I’ll stop there, but the list goes on – you want an all day hike? Then head to Camels Hump, or do a gap to gap hike: Lincoln Gap to the Appalachian Gap taking you across the peaks of our Mad River...

Mad River Valley Vermont Real Estate – Time to Refinance

We have been talking about historically low interest rates now for so long that homeowners and homebuyers have actually begun to take it for granted that they will remain historically low. Well, if you follow the news, you already know that the Fed will begin putting an end to that some time in June. If you have decent credit and a job, you might as well make the call to your friendly neighborhood mortgage guy and see what bounty awaits for your mindfulness. When I made that call I found that the savings over the life of my mortgage were over $50,000; thats a lot of cake no matter how you split it up, and it cost me next to nothing. When you work in the Mad River Valley real estate industry as I do, you speak with a great many mortgage brokers. And when you listen to what the good ones have to say, you can learn some very interesting things. You might even save a few bucks in the process. Case in point. I started receiving notices from the bank that owns my mortgage about 6 months ago. They were offering me exceptional,  good-looking, super-terrific opportunities to refi my current mortgage, and lower my monthly nut by increasingly significant numbers . Of course they were. I’m one of their best clients, right? It must be because of my exceptional reputation, my obsessive compulsive tendency to pay early and often, all the referrals I give that tiny local bank in the Citi. I’m not a number, I’m a name, for heavens sake. This is clearly my reward. Needless...

Vermont Homestead Declaration

2017 Upate: Link here for the current VT Homestead Forms YAWN. You must think I’m crazy, sitting here expecting you to listen to me talk taxes. I know, you can’t think of anything more boring. Trust me. I’m with you on this one. 500 words or less. Give me a chance, hang in with me here. Form HS-122 – Section A For residents of Vermont, the Department of Taxes has messed with us good on this one. First it was to be filed yearly. Then it became file it once until your circumstances change. Back to filing yearly. Make up your mind, which is it??? Well, it’s yearly now, love it or leave it. The good news is – the form takes but a second to file. Even I could file it, but I know better to stay out of that part of my life and I leave it either to my wife or our accountant. You can do it online, no fee for the service. You can also download a fillable PDF copy here: 2014HS-122. Really, you can do this, but you will need a copy of your tax bill in front of you. When do you have to do this? BY APRIL 15th. And this is key: you need to do it by April 15th whether or not you’re filing an extension for your taxes. Section A has nothing to do with your income, Section B does, but if you follow the instructions – you’ll see a place where you can check that you will be filing a Property Tax Adjustment claim later (as in, you’re filing an...

Taking a Tumble at Mount Ellen

For some reason people always ask me what my favorite ski trail is. I dont really know why. After all, it is a very subjective question, and we all find pleasure in nature in very different ways. But I ran into a client at the ski area the other day and I found myself asking, “what was your favorite run (of the day)”. I couldn’t stop myself. It just popped out. And I wasn’t just making conversation. I have NO TROUBLE there. But then I had this epiphany. I realized I was asking because I wanted to know more about them. I knew who they were, I’d gotten to know them quite well during the process of researching real estate, and later constructing an offer and purchasing a home for them in the Mad River Valley. But there is a difference between developing a professional relationship and skiing with someone.  And what I learned is that there is a whole lot more to learn about people when you take a few turns with them on the mountain. You learn something about their personality, what gives them joy, how they handle adversity; you learn how they manage the challenge of staring down that which intimidates or scares them. Their skiers acumen, if there is such a thing. We skiers ALL have a favorite trail and I had never really thought about why my favorite trail was my favorite trail. Until that moment. When Sugarbush Resort’s Mount Ellen opened in 1963 as Glen Ellen, the trails were named to honor the Scottish heritage the resorts moniker suggested – Highlander, Royal Tartan, Brambles and...

It’s going to be a Sweetheart of a week in the Mad River Valley

  So the start of a holiday week is nearly upon us. Here’s hoping you have been lucky enough to get lots of skiing in already, and you’ve got rock solid skier legs so can happily take run after run, after run, after run and never tire out. In case you need a moment to let your legs recover, let’s look at what else the Mad River Valley has to offer; or even, if your legs aren’t whipped – you still have to get out and see all that there is do in Warren, Waitsfield, Fayston and surrounding towns! Start your weekend off by watching (or participating if you are reading this and you are 15 years old or younger) the Jr. Mogul Challenge, how about you take part in the Women’s only Telemark Clinic, support the MRG Freeski Team at the their Lasagna Dinner by eating and watching a screening of the latest Meathead Film all at Mad River Glen (check the full line up events at MRG here). Weekend events at Sugarbush: Torch Light Parade and Fireworks, live music all over the mountain, Local Artisan Market at Lincoln Peak in Warren (2/14-2/16). During the week – take your kids to see some awesome birds of prey, or talk yummy Cider with the brewers at Citizen Cider. And don’t forget – we have two great Nordic centers. Ole’s Cross Country Center is offering up some sweet Valentines love; bring your sweetie in for a ski on their gorgeous trails, give him or her a smooch in the shop and there will be some extra treats in store for you...

Groundhog Day – UPDATED

When you live it Vermont it would be sacrilege to hope for an early end to winter (I, for one, am not even close to being done skiing). However, in our house Groundhog day does bring a little spring fever; for the start of baseball season is indeed right around the corner – at least for the big-leaguers. Us Little League parents and kids need to wait 3 more months regardless of what the groundhog says. We can wait. Somewhat patiently. Until the spring comes so that we can toss a ball, we do hope that on Monday Feb 2 ‘ole Punxsutawney Phil*** sees his shadow and crawls back into his den for another 6 weeks of winter. And in that vein, lets talk about what we have going on in this beautifully snowy winter land of the Mad River Valley that can keep us out of trouble in the meantime. Thursday Jan 29: Everyday Cooking – From the Sea class at The Store Thursday Jan 29: $30 Thursday at Mount Ellen (and most other Thursdays, except holidays, until the end of March) Saturday Jan 31: Mad River Glen Beer Lovers dinner & Full moon snowshoe Sunday Feb 1: Mad River Valley Mountaineering Race ** **UPDATE 1/31/15: Race has been postponed until March 22! ***UPDATE 2/2/15: Shadow appears, forecast for six more weeks of winter!!! (in case the snow coming down today wasn’t enough of an indication) Live Vermont, Live Mad River. Cheers,...

Roll Back the Clock Day

What’s that you say? “It’s not daylight savings time – what are you, confused?” No, no confusion here. In our fair home here in the Mad River Valley it’s Roll back the clock day at Mad River Glen next Tuesday January 27th. What exactly does this mean? It means my friend, you can ski and a classic New England ski resort for $3.50 – the price of a lift ticket at Mad River Glen in their first year of operation in 1948. Whaaat? How can you pass that up? You can’t. So, curiosity got the better of me, and got to wondering about other 1948  prices in our wee Town. Fayston School budget** – $6697.52 – of that, $3400 was the salary for two teachers Town of Fayston budget** – $23155.29 – of that, $3773.26 were road expenses, and $4.50 was an expense for porcupine bounties. (No joke, I couldn’t make that up.) Items on the warning** the same year for Fayston Town meeting day (Not familiar with town meeting day you say? It’s a New England thing, and well, that’s a topic for another blog). Article 11. Shall the license for the sale of malt and vinous beverages be granted in this town? Article 12. Shall spirituous liquors be sold in this town? [Dang, don’t you wish you could go back in time and listen to those debates?] Article 14. To see if the Town will vote to raise the amount of High School tuition from $100 to $150  So. Go, ride the single chair, you’ll thank yourself later. **As found in the Fayston Town report for the year ending...

The Bums Rush

When I moved to the Mad River Valley in 1994 I had just spent a year working for British Telecom in London. BT was the largest corporation in the UK at the time. I took the job fresh out of college as a way to travel, see the world, and learn a bit about the “Corporate Life” I assumed I was destined for eventually. A year later I had traveled plenty but already knew that corporate life was not for me. I found myself doing everything I could to get out-of-doors, take time off from work, to travel up to the Lake District, to get out of the suffocating city. I needed the fresh air. I needed Vermont. I moved back to the states and soon found myself in Waitsfield, Vermont at the invitation of a friend who had stopped here on our way home from a summer journey a year earlier. I didn’t have plan. I didn’t really have a place to stay, living alternately in a loft, on the floor, in a tent and eventually an apartment in town. As winter grew closer I started hunting for a year-round job but eventually settled on a seasonal one as a liftie at Sugarbush. The classic ski-bum job. Initially I was a little embarrassed, a University graduate working for $5.00/hour, standing in the freezing cold, day after day after day, months removed from a  year of jet-setting around Europe. It was a challenging transition, but soon I embraced it. Not for the job so much as for the opportunity. It turned out to be the perfect job for a...

Happy New Year!

This year, don’t stop being you. Happy New Year! Cheers,...
MENU