Posted by: David | May 4, 2014

Muse Neglect

Or has it been muse abuse? Probably neither. Fact is, this here blog receded to the very back-est burner of my life. Then we got a whole new stove and the delivery guys carted away the old one, complete with its uncleanably greasy recesses and that aforementioned back burner. The dented aluminum pot which had been simmering there for 4 or 5 months boiled dry before last xmas. Possibly. Not like I was paying attention to it. ‘Twas not a watched pot.

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It’s been The Spring of Frosty Windshields.

And it was a long long winter. It wasn’t the winter of my discontent, but I did learn a few things. Things I Thought I Already Knew. Things I should not have had to relearn. You know that old saying some things are better left unsaid? It’s SO true. It might even be the case for me that MOST things are better left unsaid. Not to be cryptic or anything, but, well, I don’t want to talk about it.  What I’m doing here is trying to make excuses for the fact that there has been no Though-0-Dave posted here since before last Thanksgiving. So lucky you, you’ve had a nice break.

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Only yesterday, May 3rd, did the first bicycle ride of 2014 happen. Over the winter I read and listened to many works of fiction. Watched many TV shows and movies on the Netflix and Amazon Prime. Also found some music to keep my brain humming along. Notable among the music finds were these: An Awesome Wave by a band called Alt-J. A Quiet Darkness by a band called Houses, and Repave, by a band called Volcano Choir. There were others, but these 3 kept my auditory attention for weeks and played in my mental music box through all the waking hours …

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One of last autumn’s more successful if not extremely tedious projects; black walnuts from a tree on our property. This bag of about a pound of nuts represents about 10 hours of work.

Things at work have been moving along at breakneck speed. This academic year is about to end already, and another busy summer of projects begins to unfold. In the previous post I was complaining about all that stuff, so why go on? Instead, here is a photo of an odd collection of stuff on top of the file cabinet in my office where filed software on optical disks gets rancid and moldy. Nothing decays faster than software, I always say … Maybe this summer I’ll throw all those disks out. All the software I work with now has been downloaded for a few years now. No more disks.

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I think you’ll agree that this is an odd collection of stuff.

One does what one must in order to maintain one’s sanity, doesn’t one?

Posted by: David | November 10, 2013

Fall Back

Hey Internet! It’s been a while. Sorry about that. You know that this whole personal blog thing is “sunsetting” don’t you? Anyhoo, how you doin’? Are ya listening?

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Pampas grass in front of the Ivey Science Center. The light hit it so many different ways, I photographed it often this fall.

As indicated in the previous post, this has been a very busy fall semester. The lovely little college where I work now has the largest student population in its 176 year history. I feel very lucky to have spent the last 15 years working there. The past few years have been especially exciting, and sometimes a bit scary. Higher education is changing, they say, and small colleges like ours are especially challenged by the changing landscape. If you don’t believe me just do a Google search: higher education challenges. Books, studies and monographs galore.

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Not sure what most of this means, but seeing it makes me happy to work at a college.

Trying to predict what will happen with higher education in the future is impossible. Believe it or not, as a young nerd I realized in the 1970s that there would be a convergence or melding of the technologies of computing, telephony and television. Duh, who didn’t know that, right? It was obvious. But the ways in which those technologies actually did blend were so varied and profuse as to defy any detailed prediction. Smart phones, streaming video and music, and all the crap we so take for granted now– who could have predicted? As technology impinges on education another unpredictable convergence evolves before our eyes. What’s next?

It is mid-to-late autumn now, the first snowflakes and brief snow squalls have flown, and the garden has been put to bed for the Long Winter of Zone 5b. The final cabbages were small and dense, hit by a few frosts. And this year only half as much garlic was planted– about 300 cloves. The photos below are before and after the planting. In between a picture of a lonely radicchio.

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I was up on the roof a few weekends back brushing out the chimney. It was a chilly but sunny afternoon. Got a nice panorama of the back yard. There was hardly any creosote to be collected at the chimney’s cleanout door. But enough to blacken the clothes and hands of course.

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An unexpected crop this fall was black walnuts. There is a pretty tall tree on our property and usually the squirrels or some other rodents take all the nuts. This year there were just too many I guess. There were tons of apples too– I dehydrated lots of them. Anyway, the walnuts have a smelly and objectionable outer husk that must be removed before setting the nuts in a dry place to cure. The inner shells are very hard. I’ve been cracking them in a vise on my workbench to monitor the curing. The nutmeats are smaller and stronger tasting than store-bought nuts, and a lot smaller and harder to remove from the shell.

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Black walnuts curing.

This fall has been more temperate than last, the couple of cold snaps surrounded by days warm enough to get the bicycle on the road. The autumnal foliage was pretty good this year, though not spectacular. It’s so beautiful here anyway that the fall colors don’t even have to be spectacular.

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Lake Todd, Newbury, New Hampshire.

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Sumac bushes behind Kearsarge Regional High School.

On a couple of recent bike rides through Sutton, the town just north of mine, I found some interesting graffiti under an overpass of Interstate 89. The road is a favorite for cyclists, dog-walkers and other folks looking for a quiet stroll. Not much traffic, hence, a good place to spend a few minutes tagging the concrete abutments without fear of the interruption. Maybe that begets more interesting graffiti.

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Back on a beautiful late September day, an old friend, the dog and I climbed Mt. Kearsarge. Actually we drove most of the way up, but the mile or so hike was well worth the spectacular view. The weather was so clear that Mt. Washington was faintly visible on the horizon, as well as (maybe) some of the Boston skyline. There were lots of folks up there that day, and one woman was kind enough to point out the unusually clear and distant views.


Oliver hadn’t had this much exercise in quite some time.

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In closing, I’d like to thank you for stopping by.

Posted by: David | September 2, 2013

Labor Day 2013

So I went to work today. And yesterday, and the day before. This week is when all our new students arrive, along with returning faculty, most of whom have  avoided their offices since a week or two after last May’s commencement. We year-round staff are all abuzz with excitement and busy-ness, excited to see our new and returning students and feverishly getting every last little detail ready for them.

The longer I wait, the more up-to-date the computer labs will be when the students arrive.

The longer I wait, the more up-to-date the computer labs will be when the students arrive.

I set a couple of keyboards on top of the paper towel dispenser. They fall down (as granddaughter says).

I set a couple of keyboards on top of the paper towel dispenser. They fall down (as granddaughter says).

August just zips by so fast. Now it’s gone. The corn, as the saying goes, is now in the freezer. They don’t say that do they? What evs. I just did. This post will feature more photos than words, lucky for you, dear reader.

Sweet corn. Critters enjoyed a few ears too.

Sweet corn. Critters enjoyed a few ears too. A cute young fox found its way into the Havahart trap. It had blue eyes. Wish I’d taken a picture before releasing it.

Processed 51 ears. Smaller crop than usual.

Processed 51 ears. Smaller crop than usual.

Managed to get in a few nice bike rides in the first half of August. I’m now way overdue. Though my sanity is safe, I tweeted this question, which struck me as slightly hilarious: Ever feel like you’re living your own life vicariously? I like to respond to the tweets and Facebook posts of famous comedians too. Thought you should know. They generally don’t respond. Never actually. Although, once, at the mention gourmet jelly beans in an early blog post, the actual inventor of Jelly Belly brand jelly beans left a comment. As I now Google his name, this sort of sad story appears … He left a nice comment though.

THIS IS A TEST SITE.

THIS IS A TEST SITE.

Feeling somewhat random. It’s just fatigue. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.

Zinnia grown in one of my wife's many lovely flower gardens.

Zinnia bloom in one of my wife’s many lovely flower gardens.

A few weeks back we had some great weather, dry and not too hot, but good and sunny. Perfect weather for the farmers around here to cut, dry and bale their hay. On one nice bike ride through Henniker and Hillsborough there were no less than 3 or 4 different farms at various stages of the process.

This, perhaps, is the world's smallest hayfield. It's in Henniker.

This, perhaps, is the world’s smallest hayfield. It’s in Henniker.

And here's the latest in green pavement. Actually it's just preparation for a skating rink coming this winter.

And here’s the latest in green pavement. Actually it’s just preparation for a skating rink coming this winter to the campus quad.

So a few weeks back I was shopping and stopped to look at all the many premium ales at the Market Basket. One stood out.

So a few weeks back I was shopping and stopped to look at all the many premium ales at the Market Basket. One stood out. And it was not Terrible at all.

I sold a freezer and a really old Lange woodstove on Craigslist. Nobody wants the old Rockwell table saw though. Maybe I’ll end up restoring it after all. If I can get parts. Or I’ll put it up by the road with a sign that says FREE. One advantage of living on a state route with a fair amount of traffic. You can recycle stuff pretty easily. We actually had two freezers to get out of the garage. One left by Craigslist and one left via the driveway.

This photo was taken today. It's something we've all seen before.

This photo was taken today. It’s something we’ve all seen before.

Here’s hoping that this week goes well for all of us. Another school year begins.

Posted by: David | August 8, 2013

Thirty Years Old

The dogwood tree that my wife's mother planted 15 or 20 years ago in front of their home in Connecticut.

The dogwood tree that my wife’s mother planted 15 or 20 years ago in front of their home in Connecticut.

On Sunday, August 4th, 2013, our late son Daniel would have reached that milestone age of 30. Recollecting  the first year of my 3rd decade, there was nothing notable. Nothing significant.  My body was still young and able to sustain all the damage I was inflicting on it, and neither my heart nor mind was anywhere near that maturity level one was supposed to reach as one headed “over the hill”.  All there was was this ingrained expectation that having reached one’s 30th year, some sense of arrival should materialize. It didn’t.

The last photo of Dan, taken in March 1993. It was a very snowy winter. He loved the whole spring lamb deal.

The last photo of Dan, taken in March 1993. It was a very snowy winter. He loved the whole spring lamb deal.

Perhaps that why It seems important for me to think up better stuff for how Danny would have appreciated some of the things that have happened in his family since his departure just over 20 years ago. As a family, we’ve observed the anniversaries of his arrival and departure many times now. Most of those times have been happy recollections, a few times bittersweet, wet with loss and grief, much like the nearly ten years he spent with us. If we got a do-over the only thing I’d request to change would be that poor little ticker of his.

On Saturday the 3rd we took a 3-hour drive to pick up a load of furniture from my in-laws’ home in Connecticut. They sold the place to spend their remaining years having to look after only one home. In Florida. We scored a great bedroom set, a nice chest freezer and a couple of nice recliners. It was a one day trip and we burned about 50 gallons of gas. A long day, but a good one.

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This is a small framed mirror I noticed at work this week. The silvering on the back has aged and corroded to form this lovely pattern.

On Sunday, Dan’s 30th birthday, we had some family over to see about distributing some of the furniture. We were tired from the day before, but it wasn’t too bad. We got our bedroom set up with the new furniture. There was a lot of dust under the old bed. We graduated to a queen sized mattress, after 35 years of sleeping on full sized beds. Even though the mattress is pretty old, it’s a really good one, nice and firm. I’ve been sleeping in this week, only on Tuesday did I manage to drag ass down to the cellar at 5 for the morning workout routine.

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Fruit of the dogwood tree.

Late in the afternoon, after the last of the furniture was emptied from the horse trailer into our daughter and son-in-law’s house, our daughter suggested that we take a little walk. In honor of the birthday. It was a very sweet suggestion, and our granddaughter thought it sounded like a fine idea. I felt guilty about it, but I was just too tired. Lame. Thanks for suggesting it big sister! They mention “Uncle Danny” to our granddaughter sometimes, and one thing that we all know for certain is that if 30 year old Danny was around to celebrate his birthday with his adorable niece, he’d have definitely wanted to go for that walk too.

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