Indian Summer in Carlisle – 2021 edition

Mid-October and cool evenings/mornings but very, very nice days with a fair amount of humidity. Feels a bit odd to tell the truth. The trees around us are kind of all over the place. Some of the maples are almost completely nude having dropped all their leaves while other trees haven’t even started turning colors. I did notice however yesterday (Saturday 10/16) while driving over to my house from my parent’s place that large long windrows of pine needles are all down and lining the roads. Definitely fall is coming – but still having to mow like crazy – so much rain!

However all over it feels and smells like harvest. I was trading some emails with my friends Allison and Marty from San Francisco and they have some property with vineyard vines up in Napa – they sent me some photos – totally awesome!

This summer has been pretty fun despite Covid – I have managed to actually get out for a walk most days that were not raining during lunch and with all the rain, I found some really neat mushrooms growing alongside the road. See below. Also, took some neighborhood shots. Spring Hill farm and across the street Fox Run (on Pope road in Acton). Also a shot of Bates/Kimball’s Pond which is downstream on Pages Brook at my house – just poking around 🙂

Spring Hill Farm on Pope Road and Spring Hill (naturally enough – situated on a spring)
Across the street, Fox Run
Kimball’s pond (us old timers call it Bates pond since Herb Bates built it in the early 20th century. It is downstream from my house on Pages Brook and is a favorite skating spot (weather permitting) for kids in town

Pictures from the top of my parent’s driveway – Kevin Brown was down from Maine to cut the upper fields with his really big Kabota tractor (you can kind of see his truck and trailer). Also, the Carmichaels have really done a nice gardening job across the street (the old Koford house)

neat mushrooms

Also – in traditional fall work, I got my DR brush cutter walk behind finally working after battery and crank case oil issues all summer. I cut down a LOT of dead invasive plants that my plant control service team killed (part of my permanent order of conditions from the Conservation Commission is to have an invasive plant management plan – I am fulfilling that by having a team do work each year and man do they do a good job! Lueders for the win! https://luedersco.com/

Long day (about 7 hours of mowing all in at my house and my parent’s house) – lots of dodging of rocks and hoisting heavy equipment around but the brush hog actually did a good job of not only cutting things down but mulching them up too.

more before pictures

After lots of cutting of dead stuff
After lots of cutting of dead stuff

Finally – I thought I would share a bit of small town stuff with anyone who is still reading?

I went over yesterday to Vanderhoofs Hardware in downtown Concord to pick up some electric socket ground testers because I had some circuits tripped (we surmise due to surges from a blown transformer in town last month). I had a really interesting talk with Scott Vanderhoof – he is the 4th generation owner of Vanderhoof’s hardware and his family owns one of the iconic buildings on Main Street in Concord. There is an alley entrance to the back parking lot from Main Street and it was blocked off with cones – because the siding was off the building and being replaced. As I was walking up the alley, I ran into Scott who was in the midst of recovering the antique corners to the window frames – he was replacing the windows with new but he has a lot of customers come in for that type of window framing materials and they are not made any more. We got to talking about the building – under the siding, the framing boards are original and they are 12-16″ wide and 1.5″ thick oak boards. He was telling me the 3rd floor hasn’t really been touched since the 1800’s and the floor is a mishmash of different widths of maple – he thinks it was scrap maple from other projects because the 3rd floor used to be the union hall for the Carpenter’s Union (and the Plumbers Union). Apparently that section of the street used to be called Union Block due to the guild halls up in the upper stories of the buildings – neat!

I also had the opportunity to tell him how very, very much we have been enjoying his book about the history of his store and his family. His daughters are nurses and don’t have an interest in the store – but his nephew (also a Vanderhoof), after a stint as a corporate accounting person, has come back and loves it and they are planning on him continuing on as a 5th generation owner. Super interesting book and its available on Amazon (also – Nancy Shohet West – our neighbor on South Street (the old Diment place) wrote it with him. Her parent’s live next to me over at my own house – super local

Vanderhoof Hardware Company: The Story of My Family, Our Business, and More Than a Century on Main Street
As told to Nancy Shohet West (author)

“For over one hundred years, the Vanderhoof family has operated a bustling hardware store on Main Street in Concord, Massachusetts. As he himself approaches fifty years in the business, owner Scott Vanderhoof reflects upon the legacy that dates back to his great-grandfather and how five generations of Vanderhoofs have provided excellent service to the greater Concord community, proving that in the right circumstances, a well-run family business can indeed thrive in today’s retail climate.” https://www.amazon.com/Vanderhoof-Hardware-Company-Business-Century/dp/B098H21DZ3/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=vanderhoof&qid=1634471646&sr=8-1

From the back cover – an old family photograph and the current generation recreating it. Awesome fun stories and a great place. I highly recommend it 🙂

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Hot and Humid September

I had some work events wrap up on September 1st so I was able to take the week after the Labor Day holiday off and it was a lot of outdoors yard work kind of stuff. Good fun – but really, really hot and humid all month so far. A couple of days ago, Hanscom Field weather station was recording 100% humidity. Just a bit more and you need a snorkel out there!

Harvest season is here though – when you go outside, you can smell the wild grapes ripening on the vines – wonderful!

Some stuff I was able to do the past couple of weeks – I got the anvil in my Dad’s blacksmith shop moved around using the chain hoist (it was at a really awkward angle in relation to the coal forge). I also took out my axe and took down a couple of trees and I have been working with the Carlisle Conservation Commission on permission to take out 2 dead trees near my house and two junk trees overhanging the roof – I have it mostly lined up and then will have some folks with a bucket truck come in and take care of things

Upcoming is working more on the forge – my Dad and I are going to build an exhaust hood to try and deal with the smoke better (right now it tends to blow in your face a lot!). We went to Vanderhoofs hardware and got stove pipe and also the electrical fittings for an exhaust fan I had previously purchased and we got that wired up as well. I am just waiting right now for an adapter to arrive – a part that will mate the 6″ round stove pipe to flat sheet metal as Scott Vanderhoof didn’t have anything in stock.

One side note, Nancy Shohet West and Scott Vanderhoof have published a book about the family store – it is super interesting and the story of a long held family store in a small town. I recommend it!

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Hot August and Tropical Storm Henri

Good morning – I am glad to see that posts are working again – yay!!. I am not sure why the email notification of a post is not happening but will look at that in the future.

What’s going on this week? Well, as you would expect, August in Massachusetts is hot and HUMID! yesterday we were at 78% humidity and it was really hot. It was so humid that dew in the morning was still on the grass at 5 pm unless it had been in direct sunlight for a looong period of time. My Dad and I both remarked on that while we were doing stuff around the shop in the late afternoon (Saturday).

I did some mowing over at my house and I have taken to mowing along the driveway and around the back to keep things tidy, but around the front of the house, due to the sandy nature of the soil and the ledge rock close under the surface, the grass tends to be thinner and there are a lot more wild flowers. So I am mowing that less and enjoying the flowers. Speaking of which, this year with all the rain we have gotten (July was about 13″ or 14″ inches – which is an all time record), the plantings for the English Hedgerow are doing well for the most part. (also see this other page in the blog for the specifics on what I planted in the Hedgerow)

For the future, I am thinking about hiring Laura Kuhn to do something interesting with the large ledge rock near the mill site and combine it with a restoration/stabilization effort of the stonework. Something to continue thinking about. https://www.laurakuhndesign.com/process-sketches

The other thing that got done is thinking about winter and plowing. Our mutual plow guy (who is excellent!) is Mercer Therrien and he is switching to a tractor for plowing from a pickup truck (I have zero idea on how he is going to make that work?). Anyway, he asked that there be a certain clearance in terms of height be available for him – so my Dad and I went out yesterday and measured the the low point of the utility wires as they cross the driveway. We could have gotten all fancy and used various surveying tools and math – but I suggested being simple. We tied some string to a large 3/4″ metal nut and tossed over the line and then measured the length of line. Easy! Turns out the lowest point in the line drape from the utility pole at the street and first utility pole on my parent’ drive way is 11′ 4″. At the point where the wire is at the center of the driveway (crossing it over) the lowest point is 12′ 6″. So the wire height is actually rising again as it crosses the driveway (diagram below I wrote up for long term reference). Mercer only needs 10′ so we are good. However, this led to the thought and wonder in terms of how much height does the current town firetrucks need? My Mom is going to contact them during the week and ask. The lowest cable set is from the phone company – so it should be pretty easy for them to come and tighten up the tension and reduce the drape. At my house all the utilities are underground so no worries there – just branches.

Finally – Hurricane Henri.

First Hurricane in New England in 30 years. While I have been typing this entry, the first of the rain started to fall. My understanding is that this storm was barely a Hurricane and it has weakened already into a Tropical Storm. Yesterday I took down the last remaining canoe from the boat shed (the while Bart Hathaway ultralight – we gave to the Andereggs the other canoes and windsurfers) and in general tidied up things that are wind susceptible. We should just get wet and this is why it was so humid yesterday :-).

Below is a screenshot of the radar on Accuweather as of 7:30am this morning – the storm has been coming up the coast and while they original thought it slam Cape Cod and go east, it looks now like it is going west and will hit Rhode Island and move up the Connecticut River Valley. Regardless, a good day to stay indoors and be glad we have backup generator service!

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Will more server memory actually get this blog back online after 3 years??

Hi everyone – I have what is called in the Technology biz a “Vintage” package with my hosting provider and I was getting memory errors logging in to create new posts, put up pictures and what not. I got part way through moving to a new plan on GoDaddy (which is excellent) but that is a giant pain in the tail since I have stuff reaching back to the early 1990’s on my site. Fortunately while fighting to move things, I was finally able to stumble my way to re-configure the memory on my existing site – so we will shall see how it works out!

What has been going on since my last post? A lot, COVID of course and ton a change at my job. I had to create a timeline of the last 4 years at work the other day for a business re-org and I realized that me and my team have had a major strategy change, project, re-org or some other big event pretty much every 4 months for the past several years – the longest stretch of moving straight towards a goal was 9 months – oooofff. But all good – great bunch of people. So I will skip all the boring bits and let you know what is going on now that is fun

My Dad changed things up and got a new mower. The old John Deere tractor was having a hard time with the lawn, which has been getting lumpier and lumpier with odd off slopes developing. It was a bit top heavy and unstable feeling. We looked at getting a landscaping company to come in but they wanted $900.00 per WEEK just to mow around the house and along the driveway (not including the fields across the pond). At that price, a different mower started looking pretty cheap. We looked around and got a commercial grade Z-Trak John Deere (lower end of the scale, but had the beefier chassis for bashing against the occasional rock – as one does find in Carlisle 🙂

This is basically what it looks like – you steer with the two bars. Once you sit down, you fold them in and then push or pull to go forward or back or spin in place. My Dad says its like riding a horse – gentle. I wouldn’t know since I am afraid of horses – LOL. It does a great job and is super fun to use.

Yesterday my Dad and I went down to the Robbins Museum (aligned with the Massachusetts Archeology Society) and donated a whole car load of Geo-Archeology equipment. Think things to take core samples, sift things, bag things up and what not. This was equipment my Dad had accumulated over a number of years while doing things with the Society and people in the community. I won’t try and trace all the different things that drew him into this branch – but one of the things is pretty neat and interesting to the lay person. When I was in London for work a number of years ago, I stumbled on the Museum of London (aka – covering the history of the City of London). They specialize in Roman period and earlier – basically the period prior to existing written history. It is super – highly recommended. I picked up this book Seahenge: a quest for life and death in Bronze Age Britain On the cover it is about the discovery of a wooden “Henge” (think Stone Henge) that was uncovered along the coast after a big storm washed away some dunes. It apparently was a big deal in Britain when it was discovered and made exciting because it was wooden in a now exposed marine environment – Archeology in Rush, news at 11 tonight, don’t miss it !

That was mildly interesting but most of the book was about techniques used and for that, the author focused on prior sites to use as examples and it was absolutely fascinating when he got into how they analyze soil. The amount of information they are able to determine by examining pollen is amazing. What I found super interesting is that on one site, they examined the ground and were able to determine that wooden posts had been set in the ground, and that they had been shaped with flint stone tools and they could identify with such accuracy the shape of the posts, they could calculate the shape of the stone tools used on the post. Later in the dig, after cataloging the theoretical shapes of the tools used – they actually found them and the shape and size were exact matches. Wow.

Needless to say this was ground breaking techniques that are not being used in New England.

the point of donating the tools is that we are not doing much of that stuff any more and the Archeology Society needs help with things that members can participate in without having a PhD or certification. Driving a 3/4 inch wide pipe into the ground and getting a core sample usually doesn’t require a permit from the State for an official dig and is actually the cutting edge way to do things instead of Indiana Jones pick and shovel stuff!

Here are some pictures of the equipment my Dad donated – not a full inventory since there was a lot variations on the themes here. Basically all methods for gathering, handling and storing samples.

The Robbins Museum was a very interesting museum – it has the largest collection of Native American artifacts in New England and possibly the United States (that gets a bit vague). Here is their website and YouTube channel in case you want to check them out.

I won’t bore you with every photo of what they have on display but here is a bit of an example – a very neat place!

That’s all for this weekend – fingers crossed this is all working again and I can get back into a regular cadence – I have missed it! Waving to everyone virtually 🙂

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Fall 2018 after a long hot and wet summer in Carlisle

It was a long, hot and wet summer this year – but fall has finally arrived.

I have been working pretty much every weekend for so many weeks now that I cannot really remember – definitely stretching back into September.  A big project at work that took me down to New York, which was interesting and I had the opportunity to meet up with my new department and my peers in person.   Made a live, on stage, presentation to all the senior leadership of technology of the parent Bank – which was stressful since I was presenting the technology of the group I had just joined 5 weeks before to people who were asking detailed questions.  Fortunately my new boss was on stage with me and it went well – but it was a pretty long hour or so!

I got a chance to visit Ground Zero and the Oculus (the new memorial/PATH train station) since it was directly across the street from my hotel.  By the way, how is it that the Hilton Millenium directly downtown doesn’t have a WiFi internet system except in lobby (which also doesn’t work)?.

I found the site a very excellent combination of memorial and bustling life moving forward.  They have struck an excellent balance.  I didn’t have time to visit the museum itself but it is supposed to be very, very, very good.   I really liked the Oculus – it is a building that is getting USED but also helps you think.

Finally – a bit of a shot of the Farm Stand near my house – all dressed and bustling with harvest energy!

and I almost forgot – here is the final installed stone work that marks the permanent maximum extent of my lawn

 

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stone work for the border of my lawn

As part of my terms and conditions still outstanding, I need to mark off with some sort of permanent markers the maximum edges of “lawn” which is essentially where the siltation barriers were.  This is totally fine as it is swamp cabbage land on the other side!

My Dad and I enlisted our friend Jic Davis to help as he has a lot of experience with stone and stone work.  My thought was to make some stone posts out of granite in the same way the Colonials did it – keep true to the site!

As it turns out, he was very gracious and not only showed me how to work the stone, but he let me use his tools AND gave to me some granite.  Thank you Jic!

Two weeks ago, we went over to his house and picked the top two stones off his stone pile and used his loader/forklift to move them onto his gravel driveway out of the sun (it was VERY hot and humid).  Then using his electric hammer drill, I drilled 1/2 inch holes around 8 inches apart and placed ‘pins & feathers’ in the holes.  Pins and Feathers are the traditional way to split stone – essentially you have a spike (the pin) and place it in the hole.  On each side, you place iron/steel strips- the idea is that as you drive down the spike, they slide along the strips and there is a spreading pressure you exert on the stone – since stone resists compression very well, but not tension/expansion, it is possible to split the stone.  You need to have a feel for the grain of the stone and as Jic pointed out, the rock was being VERY cooperative that day.

we used, without much success, the exact same method to attempt to break up the boulder 13 years ago back in 2005.  Shown here in this link http://www.sixthelement.org/images/carlisle/index.html

Things worked out great, I was able to split the rocks into exactly the size and shape needed to mark the boundaries.  It was super fun.  Thank you Jic!!!

I have photos below AND also Jic took some movies of the drilling (with Slo-Mo) and tapping away at the rock

 

 

 

 

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Scotts Valley Fohl family visit to Carlisle

Jeff, Meghan, Mason and Owen left to go back to Scotts Valley on Friday (today is a rainy Sunday morning).  We had a GREAT time and I hope they did as well.

Unfortunately the subsidiary that I work for is in the midst of a 5 way merger and things are extremely busy and time sensitive leading up to our next phase on August 1st – so I was not able to take any time off beyond the weekend to hang out.  But we did have the opportunity to see each other each night and on the weekend we got some time to play Dungeons & Dragons with Mason and Jeff hosted a party at my house on Sunday which went super well.  The Muldowney’s came, Chris Fielding and his kids, the Collins’ (both Massachusetts and Maryland set), Scott Johnstone, Craig First, the Richardsons (my neighbors), friends of Chris and Mary Collins from down in Maryland and Ben (a friend of Meghan’s from California who is living in New England at the moment).  Probably missing some folks too!

Quite a successful party – food was good, conversation was good and the zillion kids all had a great time doing gymnastics, blowing bubbles with commercial and hand made bubble machines and of course, getting Kimbles ice cream !!

Yesterday, my Dad and I went up to Brentwood New Hampshire to Highland Hardwoods to look at speciality hardwood for building the first shepherd’s hut.  With the frame done, now I need to finalize the design of the structure itself, get the materials and start building.  I was thinking of using oak 4×4 beams for a post and beam construction – but I may fall back to local Concord Lumber construction grade pine.  Highland Hardwoods was not what I was expecting – it was more of a traditional lumber warehouse – which I suppose makes sense since the majority of their wood is locally sourced and used in construction.  What I am used to is MacBeath Hardwood in Berkeley California who ship in wood from all over the world and it is a spice shop of exotic smells in their warehouse.  Some thinking is needed for this project, but as Dad pointed out, I also have projects like a coffee table or two, a media center for the TV and other projects – Highland should be able to do the job for me !

Had a great time with family and I hope they had fun too !

 

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Welcome to July!

July has arrived and it is HOT but some cool stuff has been happening here

My parent’s and I have been pulling my house into final order as prep for Meghan, Jeff, Mason and Owen arriving and spending time here in Carlisle.  They are going to stay at my house while I stay at my parents.  All the stuff that was on my plan for ‘eventually’ is actually happening and it is GOOD.  Art is being hung up, furniture is being used, books are being unpacked from boxes and put up on shelves.

So far this weekend, we assembled my new dining chairs (3 out of 4 arrived – the 4th should be Monday or Tuesday).  They are transparent acrylic and come in super fun colors – appropriately enough from Flash Furniture.   I took the advice of some of the Amazon reviewers and purchased rollerblade wheels and used them instead of the wheels that came with the chair – just as insurance against scratching the hardwood floor.  My they roll like wicked now.

I also got some more book shelves.  Today will be unpacking the remaining books and placing things on shelves – or as much as we have energy for

what do you think?

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Old Home Day in Carlisle, 2018

http://www.carlisleohd.org/   (click here for the newly revamped website with great photos – definitely capture the feel of OHD)

Good morning all – this year’s Old Home Day in Carlisle was a bit cold and damp with occasional showers, but definitely not rained out.  Old Home Day is a traditional celebration in some of the smaller New England towns and was created as a way for families to get together and celebrate Independence but also recognize the realities of life – that a lot of folks feel tied to the town they grew up in, but don’t live there any longer.  So Old Home Day is offset from the 4th of July and allows people to celebrate the 4th where they live, but still come Home to “their” town.   An excerpt of the history of Carlisle’s Old Home Day (researched by Al Peckham) is below – taken from the Old Home Day website

ORIGINS OF OLD HOME DAY
Researched and written by Al Peckham 

    At the annual town meeting 85 years ago, on February 1, 1909, Article 15, “To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of one hundred dollars for Old Home Week and to appoint an Old Home Week Committee to act thereon.” The article failed to pass.But in 1912 the first old home celebration was held for one day on July 31, 1912, according to Ruth Wilkins Hollis’ record, “It was a beautiful summer day, with the Town Flag flying on the Common and the Soldiers’ Monument in the Square decorated with flags and flowers.”
That was 82 years ago. The next year a Carlisle Old Home Day Association was formed. Held annually until 1915, the fifth event was held four years later after World War I on September 1, 1919, including a reception for Carlisle soldiers and sailors returning from war service. The parade that day included most of the twenty World War I veterans and a few Civil War veterans. …..

If you do a Google search on Old Home Day you get smattering of town events and some hits for Old Home Week.  Carlisle is definitely in a select few who have a celebration like this.  I personally think it is a LOT of fun

This year, like every year, there are lots and lots of kids and many kid events – we saw a portable rope bridge, live music and the traditional midway.  I got a very good cheeseburger and chips from the Boy Scouts (a very efficiently run BBQ setup – well done guys!) and when we got there, things were winding down.

My parents both entered art work in the Art/Craft show and my Dad won the Best In Show prize – HUZZAH !!    This is actually a pretty big achievement considering the quality of work on display in the amatuer categories and the really, really talented professional artists who had pieces there (including Maris Platais – who is amazing and internationally known  https://www.mysticseaport.org/artists/platais-maris/  )   I have two pieces by Maris and they are really nice.  We had a celebratory clinking of the glasses during juice and cookie time before dinner – ha!

My Dad’s show winner is a large wood sculpture carved in Elm wood – left over from tree’s that died due to Dutch Elm Disease.  As related to me, this was his first large sculpture attempt and I remember as a very little kid the care and effort that went into the final smoothing of the wood using tool steel scrapers.   He also entered in a bronze and stone sculpture and a polished walnut sculpture – both of which demonstrate mathematical topology concepts

My Mom entered several quilted wall hangings which are great as well.  As of a month or so ago, my Mom has sold every piece of fabric art that was displayed at the Carlisle Artisans – a double HUZZAH !!

A memorable Old Home Day for sure and good times had by all

 

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Catching up and moving into summer

Its been a bit since my last update – mostly because work has been taking up a lot of my mental energy.  Our 3 way merger has evolved now into a 5 way merger and the time frames have not changed (actually compressed a bit) – that is not leaving a lot of left over brain cells for the weekend.  But this week was not too bad and I have coffee in hand and I thought I would capture what has been happening since the snow disappeared?

First off – my Dad and I have been working diligently to de-clutter and organize his workshop.  We have gotten rid of some things that were no longer needed and have come up with new organizational schemes for materials and tools – so we are utilizing the existing space much better.  We moved the electric welder over to my shop (still need to put that back together at some point), added a lot of eye hooks in the ceiling as a mount point for a new and really slick chain fall hoist from a firm in Japan – it is totally sweet.  You can lift several hundred pounds with just finger tip pressure pulling on the chain and it is very easy to control.  It makes moving around some of the new sheet metal tools my Dad has bought very easy.  Below is a picture of the kind of stuff we are doing – getting things organized has made it a lot more pleasant to be in the shop along with the new lighting and heating system too – it means it is getting used several hours a day vs a few hours per year!

Sticking with that theme – one set of shepherd’s hut wheels has been converted by one of the crack welders at Leo Cavelier’s (actually Cavelier Welding now) into the frame of a hut and they delivered it.  I decided to do one hut at a time to capture lesson’s learned and have one less thing to deal with at a time.  It came out really, really well and looks super neat.  I am working out the framing design now

Skipping backward in time, Tenley came out during the snow to visit Carlisle – I was super busy at work and didn’t get to take much time off (brain has short circuited – I can’t remember now – I must have taken a day off??).  Regardless, that was super fun and we unpacked my artwork – some of which I had packed away for 10 years plus and had forgotten about.  We did layouts and her expert color eye was put to good use deciding what should go where – thank you Tenley!   (last weekend we actually hung things up 🙂   Oh and the furniture I ordered arrived too – two pull out sleeper sofas and a rocking chair.  All very nice looking and comfortable

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, my niece Margaret walked her graduation for her Masters degree in Leadership from Saint Mary’s College (she still has to defend her thesis this summer – apparently that is their standard structure – they have an offsite in Santa Cruz designed into all and everything).  CONGRATULATIONS MARGARET !

It went very well, with her mitre board decorated with “One Degree Hotter” – which was very appropriate since it was HOT.  Even in the early morning, the sun was blasting us – we only lasted till a few minutes after Margaret got her diploma and then we left.  Over half of the guests were clustered in the shade under the trees on the walk way up to the graduation field – barely able to see but cooler – so we were not the only ones feeling it!  We went off to the Lafayette Park Hotel to freshen up and attend the reception in the Library that Tenley set up.  It was very nice and I had a lot of interesting conversations with folks.

From graduation, I drove down to visit Jeff, Meghan, Mason and Owen (the Scott’s Valley Fohls!) in their new house.  Man, it is totally great!  The house is older, so it has the kind of quirks a 100 year old house will pick up but there is tons of light, the neighbors are nice, really nice family outdoor space on the decks and room for outside stuff on the lawn.  Plus  the barn is super cool and adaptable to what ever without being too fussy

I arrived on Sunday, so we went to Roaring Camp Railroad on Monday (Memorial Day) to ride the steam trains through the redwood forest and they were also having a huge US Civil War re-enactment with probably 300 re-enactors.  It was super neat.  We rode the steam train up the mountain, where a group of teenagers re-enacted a skirmish between the Confederate and Union forces.  Man where they having fun and they were so, so into the interpretive process – once their battle was over, they rushed up asked everyone on the train what kind of questions they had.  They wrapped it up with a competitive volley competition – where each side fired a volley to see who could be the most in sync.  I  was very impressed – both were good, but definitely the kids being the Confederates were better – they were spot on.  It occured to me that since the Confederates “lost” the skirmish, putting the more disciplined kids onto that side was probably planned out – it takes more organization and discipline to act out losing!

There was also good food – we had hot dogs of course !  Then there was time to watch some Blacksmith demonstrations (the Blacksmith was very good at explaining what he was doing to the kids and I bought a steel dinosaur for Owen and steel 6 side die for Mason).  They have a print shop which I briefly visited – it was pretty neat.  But then they had the big battle which started with the artillery blasting at each other from long range and quickly escalated to back and forth infantry battles.  Surrenders, lightning raids, rescues gone wrong – they had it all.  Over the course of about 40 minutes they battled back and forth (I noticed more than one “dead” soldier managing to die with their hat over their face to avoid sunburn).  At the end, only the two wounded flag bearers were alive and they marched off the field together.  A sobering and very well done interpretive battle – they wrapped things up with a lot of explaining what we had just seen – it was very well done

Regarding the trains – the steam locomotive is super interesting – it is all wheel drive, with geared bevel gears on each  wheel truck and a super short wheelbase to allow it to make tight turns and go up steep inclines.  We went up a 9 degree slope at one time which is one of the steepest, if not the absolute steepest, inclines in North America (anything steeper becomes usually a cogwheel rail system).  The locomotive is a Shay design (named after the designer) and a lot of thinking went into it – all the drive equipment is on the right hand side of the locomotive – so all the steam pistons, drive shafts, gears etc… is right there and easy to service.  They told us they have a Heisler locomotive and to repair a cracked gear they had to take the entire train apart – since the drive line runs through the center of the train.  According to the conductor, who was explaining things as we went along, the expectation was that the locomotives were essentially viewed as disposable and would only last 10 years in the field – when they broke down, often they would be shunted off to a siding and abandoned.  But because the Shay design was so easy to work on, they continued to be maintained and so the majority of the logging locomotives that are still around in North America are the Shay design.  Here is a link to the official history of the Camp and their locomotives 

Here is the link to my own Youtube.com channel – I took a lot of video from Roaring Camp

I am not sure why Youtube picked the frame below to use as the ‘splash’ – because the video is about the family eating lunch at a picnic table and only at the end does a quick pan around the area -weird.

 

 

Here are some of the photos – somehow I was not in the same place as Mason and Meghan most of the day – sorry for the lack of photos there!

 

Finally – what have I done recently?  well I finished a coffee table that I made out of the wrecked rear mag wheel from Skip Barber’s Formula 5000 car and I fixed the broken side table that I have had hanging around for long time – it now stands fully upright and can support a cocktail again without spilling.  I forgot to take pictures – so I will have to do that and post them at a later time

Have a good weekend everyone!

 

 

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