San Simeon California arrives in Carlisle

I just got back from a quick trip to San Francisco and a package was waiting – the metal print version of California Red Carpet – taken my sister in law Tenley Fohl.  This print is for sale on Jetset Times and is just wonderful.  Taken near Moonstone Beach, looking north towards San Simeon, it really catches the special feel you get along the coast near The Hearst Castle.  She also has her photos up on Tenley Fohl Photography found here

I flew in last night and so today we trooped over to my house, unpacked it (super pack job Tenley and Pete – thank you!) and did a little layout work.  It has pride of placement as the first piece to go up on the wall and it fit absolutely perfectly in the kitchen right off the patio and entry way.  Out of the sun so it won’t fade (though I am not sure these metallic prints are susceptible to that or not – but definitely not a problem where we hung it).


We tested the hot water and it seems to be smell free – yay for water filtration!

I unpacked two books as well – does that mean that I am all done unpacking???

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A month gone by already – whoops!

It has been busy here in Carlisle (plus I had a trip to San Francisco in there as well).

First up Deck Acorn surprised me with a fantastic bench for my entry way – custom built and finished to match the house.  It is tremendous.   They wanted to thank me for allowing them to use the house in their media and to bring clients and prospects by while it was being built.  It was my total pleasure and they didn’t have to do anything – but man it is a nice piece and oh so comfortable.

Then my parent’s had a maple tree taken out which was sick and dying AND leaning over the power lines.  John Bakewell arranged for it to be taken down by heavy equipment and then stump ground – while his friend was here, he did 4 other stumps as well.  A definite heavy machine – it ground things down to about 1 foot underground

Then I went out and got a TV (an LG hi-def model that is middle of the road) so that I had something to hook up when the satellite guys arrived.  I ordered DirecTV for regular TV service (comes with a DVR and I had them arrange things so the guest room has TV too).  I also got Exede Internet  which is pure up & down satellite internet service (no land lines).  I got the 12Mbytes download package but it seems to run at 18Mbs (upload is about 2.6Mb).  Latency is about 600ms.  I haven’t really tried anything with it yet but it seems to work pretty well.  The cost was less than a cellular modem setup – but I have to do that as well in order to get my work VPN to run – experimentation in the future.

Finally, the small amounts of free time I have had this month, I have been working on a couple of custom bookshelves for under the windows on my northern wall in the living room.  I have one done and installed as of today (not enough room for all the piece parts in my Dad’s shop to fully complete both at the same time).  I got a 4’x8′ sheet of birch plywood at Concord Lumber, some threaded rod and stainless steel nuts and was thinking originally that was all I would need (bolts and nuts hold up each shelf).  Dumb-dumb me forgot that the steel rod would be strong under tension but bendy and wobbly under compression (like holding UP a shelf).  So I went out and got some panels from that are aluminum layup sandwiches – called an Alumalite™ Panel – to stiffen the sides and back.  This turned out to be an advantage because they come in colors!  I choose red for the ends and metallic silver for the back.  For a couple hundred bucks in materials, I think they are coming out nice.  Oak 2×2 runners are the feet so it sits off the floor and the airvents are not blocked.  The intent is that these will hold my unfortunately large amount of coffee table books!

Final thing that is going on – I am scheming with John Bakewell to plant an English style hedgerow (wild – not manicured) along the property line with Kimballs.  The intent is that it will act as a natural place for my Concord Grapes – a natural trellis.  I have been reading up on the olde skills around the laying of hedges, proper cutting of pleachers and other neat things.  I need to place my order soon with John for this spring and I am still trying to figure out what mix of species of plants we want (Hornbeam and grape vines are all that is on the list so far)

Here is a Midlands style hedge to give you an idea of what is possible (there are MANY different styles)

Should be an interesting project and if I don’t like it, I can go in a different direction.  This book has been very helpful:  Hedges and Hedgelaying: A Guide to Planting, Management and Conservation Hardcover – October 1, 2006
by Murray Maclean (Author)

Ok – enough of the wall of text – time for photos and then off for some cocktails!


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Start of a new year – 2017 in Carlisle

The holidays have been a busy but fortunately not very stressful time.  To catch up, the town came through with my occupancy permit and Paul has mostly finished his punch list items.  Armstrong Hearth & Home (from New Hampshire) came down and used an industrial vacuum system to pull any and all dust from the vents in the house (mostly just drywall dust – but still glad to have it out before moving in!).  The movers came last Thursday and very, very efficiently moved all my stuff out of my storage locker and over to the house.  Because it was snowing/raining on Thursday, we asked them to put the furniture in the house and everything else into the garage.  Worked out great!

During the New Year’s weekend, my parent’s very, very graciously offered to help unbox and alphabetize my books (which if you know me, is a large percentage of my “stuff”).  I focused on carrying the boxes in from the garage and they unboxed and sorted out all the paperbacks.  The larger art/coffee table books are staying in their boxes till I have more shelf space arranged.  I did manage to put up one shelving system and it looks really good – it is from and is the same system my parent’s have in their house – an aluminum track and then bar stock that is infinitely adjustable up and down in the track as supports for the shelves.  I put it in next to where my computer is going to go – just off the kitchen.

We also went bed shopping this weekend and I ordered a no-frills bed and mattress set – nice and firm and not any extras (which usually are making it softer and I don’t really enjoy those).  It should be delivered Friday – my parent’s again are going to help out and be there to meet the delivery folks – thank you again!

The next step is going to be to get some shelving for under the north windows and get the books off the floor and get the rest of the stuff out of the garage – from there, build a work bench and get constructing on the rest of the furniture.  🙂

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Thanksgiving in Carlisle, 2016

Thanksgiving here in Carlisle was fun and relaxed.   My parent’s and I enjoyed a wonderful turkey, succotash, potatoes and cranberry sauce dinner that my Mother prepared in splendid fashion – verrrry good!

Today (Friday after) is a bit cold and rainy – but we met the Maryland Collins’ and went over to look at my house.  We had a good time checking everything out (including some off trail adventures through the prickers to look at the neighbors Mack telephone pole truck – complete with hydraulic grapple and telephone poles).  I had a great time discussing the thought processes behind the design, Deck House, the land and just plain old catching up.  Thanks guys!

Very much a day for a fire in the fireplace later!


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Celebratory Dinner at the Colonial Inn in Concord

Now that the Town has issued my Occupancy Permit, it was time last night (Saturday) for a celebratory dinner.  My Mom, Dad and I went over last night to the Colonial Inn and had drinks and dinner in the tap room (one of the older parts of the Inn).

We had a very good time – things were lively without being crazy.  The Inn looked like it was completely full (the parking lot behind the buildings was 100% full at least) and there were a lot of people coming and going.  We think there were a lot of tourists with some locals mixed in.

This might be normal or it might be because yesterday, the town of Concord unveiled the installation of the ship’s bell near the war monument of the USS Concord.  The USS Concord was an Omaha Class Light Cruiser, built during the 1920’s and she served through WWII.  She was decommissioned in 1946.  According to Wikipedia, she fired the last shot of the war – how anybody knows this, I have no idea – unless it was purely ceremonial?  Apparently the ship’s bell has been in the basement of the Concord Library since 1946 and they have been working on getting it installed since 2005 or so.  I haven’t seen it yet – we were over at Vanderhoof’s hardware about an hour before the unveiling and it was causing quite a bit of traffic congestion, so we didn’t hang around.  I will try and get a picture of it at some point.

Here is a link to a picture of here, in the Panama Canal Zone during the War

USS Concord

The Inn itself is a kind of a neat place – 2016 is it’s 300th anniversary.  I asked our waitress if they had any commemorative T-Shirts or what not for sale.  She said no and it was a total missed opportunity on their part!  Clearly they are not fully up on the idea that they should be a merchandising machine with an Inn attached 🙂

From their site, this is a quick bullet point history.  If you are reading this from out of town and you are coming out to Carlisle or Concord – this is a good place to stay – very central and it is a nice walk to the Minute Man National Historic Park and the Old North Bridge Battlefield (plus it is only a few minutes drive to my house and my parent’s house)


Learn more about our Inn’s rich 300 year history with these key facts and dates:

  • 1716 – Concord’s Colonial Inn’s original structure was built.
  • 1775 – One of the Inn’s original buildings was used as a storehouse for arms and provisions during the Revolutionary War. When the British came to seize and destroy the supplies, the Minutemen met them at the North Bridge on April 19th for what became the first battle of the American Revolution. The event is commemorated every April with a parade near the Inn and a ceremony at the North Bridge on Patriots’ Day.
  • Early 1800s – Parts of the Inn were used as a variety store and a residence.
  • 1835 – 1837 – Henry David Thoreau resided with us while he attended Harvard.
  • Mid 1800s – The building was used as a boarding house and a small hotel, named the Thoreau House after Henry’s aunts, the “Thoreau Girls.”
  • 1889 – The Inn as we know it today begins operating. Situated on Concord’s town common, known as Monument Square, the Inn is surrounded by landmarks of our nation’s literary and revolutionary history.
  • 1900 – The property was given its current name: Concord’s Colonial Inn.
  • 1988 – The Inn is purchased by German Hotelier, Jurgen Demisch.
  • 2012 – The Prescott Wing undergoes a top-to-bottom restoration.

So what is going on now with the house?

I ordered towel rods, toilet paper holders and what not from Amazon but they are on a bit of a back order.  Toilet paper may be better off in the vanities from a space and streamlining point of view – more thought needed there.  Shower curtain and rod for the guest bathroom too.

I also, with my Mom’s help, am getting Armstrong Hearth and Duct (New Hampshire) to do a giant vacuum clean of the duct work.  The idea is to clear out anything that may have managed to work its way into the duct work, despite all the precautions Paul and team took (dust mostly).

Then it is have movers move everything over from my storage locker.  I am thinking that my bureau would go in my room and the books and what not would go in the garage – but I may rethink that.  Book case systems of course too – lots and lots of stuff to do!  But no need to have everything done at once – step one will clear the way for step two!!!

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Occupancy Permit….? Achievement unlocked

Very quick update here – Paul and I spoke today and the Town has wrapped things up and as of today, I have my Occupancy Permit.  All permits in order – we are done!

Paul – awwwwwesome work sir!

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Picture heavy post after missing a week of posts

I was wrapped up last weekend in doing work trying to continue momentum for my occupancy permit and I never got around to posting anything.

All permits are complete, except for the occupancy permit. The Carlisle Fire Chief has requested that the we fill in some gaps in the documentation around the common drive way due to what appears to have been some gaps in what was passed to him from the prior Chief.  We have rounded all of that up except for the documentation that the maintenance agreement for the driveway has been maintained.  Stamski and McNary has agreed to do the inspection and provide documentation.  Their commentary was that:

  1. The sight line for inbound fire trucks along Bedford Road was blocked by my new mailbox (which it was doing but I had not noticed),
  2. The brush had encroached a bit on the driveway and
  3. There was no house number at the point where my driveway split off from the common driveway.

Last weekend I resolved all three.  To simplify things, I completely removed the mailbox (I will get a PO box or continue to have mail sent to my parent’s place and figure something out later if I get a mailbox out in the future).  Then I trailered over the Billy Goat brush hog and chewed through the blackberry bushes.  Finally, Dad and I got a 4×4 pressure treated post, a post hole digger and some house numbers and I installed that.  Fingers crossed this is the last item before the final permit

Last week we also took my Dad’s old racing shell (which had de-laminated) over to Ted Van Dusen for repairs and donation to a youth rowing group in Holeyoke along the Connecticut River.  Ted runs Composite Engineering and they build a lot of the racing boats for a LOT of Olympic teams.  A run down place on the outside but amazing on the inside.  Definitely different from our place!


In other news, Paul’s team laid down coat 3 of 3 on the hardwood floor, pulled the tools and stuff from the workshop, is working through their punch list – AND – this weekend, did the final layout of the loam for the lawn.  This includes laying out the large rocks along the property line between me and Kimball’s.  It looks great!!

Before shots of the shop and looking at the “front yard”

Now here is what things look like on the outside after this weekend’s worth of work

And on the inside things are truly wonderful

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Prepping for fall and house update

Fall is definitely coming.  While not every day, we are getting more and more frost in the morning.  But the lawn is still growing due to the recent round of rain, most notably the very, very mild brush we had with Hurricane Matthew (basically about 30 hours of steady rain and almost no wind).

My Dad and I took the opportunity to do some prep work yesterday – we went to Great Road Farm and Garden in Littleton and I bought a snow blower and we also made arrangements for them to pick up my Dad’s snow blower and repair it (broken starter cable – which is riveted into the machine instead of bolted/screwed – so a bit more work than we are really looking for).

Based on last year’s meager snow fall, it looks like the extended roof and eves design is going to be great to keep walk ways clear – but the snow will be coming off the roof.  When it does, it will end up in compacted piles in ways that are not going to be easy to deal with by the driveway snowplow.  So we went looking for a snow blower that has a bit more oomph than the low end, with ice augers to chew through frozen junk a bit more easily.  A lot of the home equipment places around us have closed as the eastern part of Mass. appears to have collectively decided hiring landscapers is better than doing things for yourself – so we had to go westerly to Littleton.  Great Road Farm and Garden seems to be going great guns however and they had what I was looking for.

I ended up with a Husqvarna ST324p – which has weights to keep the front end down and plowing through the compacted snow instead of rising above and power steering (good since it weighs almost 400 lbs).  Hopefully it will work well.

We also ended up deciding we needed to mow the lawn again at my parent’s house (our normal routine is that I use the push mower on all the slopes and hard to get to spots, Dad uses the John Deere to hit the general area mowing)

Whats going on in terms of the house?

Things are progressing in very small increments.  The Bank’s assessor finished their report – all we need to do at this point is to get the certificate of occupancy and update my house insurance and the final payment to Paul can take place and the construction loan auto-converts to a mortgage.

Getting the occupancy permit is turning into a project in and of itself.  The house has all the permit sign-offs but the Carlisle Fire Chief is looking to collate and gather all the paperwork around the common driveway and the culverts over Page’s Brook that have been generated since the early 1980’s.  What was desired by Chief Flannery was a bit unclear to us for a while, but we a hoping we have a path forward now and are almost done.  This is the last thing holding up the occupancy permit (fingers crossed – that we know of !!!)

Paul still needs to put down the last coat of finish on the floors, spread the loam around and grass seed (while it is still getting warm enough during the day for it to germinate!) and other small punch list items and then we are done.  From there, it is let everything settle for a week, purchase and have Hunter Appliance install the refrigerator, microwave, washer and dryer and then pull everything from my storage locker and put it in the house.


Speaking of Hurricane Matthew.  The day after it blew past Massachusetts, from my office in Boston I had a great view across the harbor and into the bay side of Cape Cod.  There was a very strongly defined band of clouds visible as the sun came up.  A few hours later, it had all blown through to the north and you could see to the horizon – crystal clear – it was pretty neat.

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Fall is not here yet – but you can see it from where I am standing

Fall in Carlisle is coming – no leaves are turning yet but you can feel it in the air.  The weather this weekend is fantastic and that crisp mid-60’s feeling that New England gets around Halloween.  One of the things I missed while living deep in the city in San Francisco is the smell of Fall.  Hay being brought in, leaves turning, the wild grapes ripening on the vines.  Two weeks ago, when I was mowing the lawn on the swamp side of my parent’s house, I could definitely smell the wild grapes ripening.  The same while I was installing the mailbox – there are small wild Concord Grape vines in both locations.  The smell is one of harvest and is something I am really looking forward to as things go on at my new place.

I promised, in return for taking out a line of ratty white pines on the property line between myself and the Kimball’s, that I would place obvious property markers along the property line.  We agreed that I would put in grape arbors – and also plant some trees on their side of the property line – type to be determined, but hopefully apple?

My plan is  to use the big boulders remaining from blasting to periodically dot the property line and then mount vineyard equipment and plant native Concord Grapes  (see the link to Ephraim Bull’s story on how he developed the Concord grape.  His original vines are still growing a few miles down the road).  The University of Maine has some great videos on Youtube about how to grow and manage grapes – but there is a really fantastic person who does work on Youtube – Dr Tom Zabadal from Michican State University.  He produces very interesting and watchable videos.  The intent is that I will produce a very defined property line and have some visual blocking of the old dairy barn and structures – but not block the sun coming in from the south.   And wonderful harvest smells of course!

My parent’s and I took a ride over to the house yesterday and just hung out in the living room enjoying the quiet – it is a very, very quiet space.  Sitting on the window seat was wonderful.  Then we took a walk from Kimball’s parking lot down around the other side of the old mill pond from my property and over and around Bates Pond to see how much of the house you can see from the dirt road into the pond and the trail.  Right now the answer is ‘not much’ – but that will change a little as the leaves fall.  But still, it is very private.  Walking around Bates Pond on the Carlisle Trail’s Committee trail, we were surprised to see signs of active beavers – there are a few trees felled by beaver around that are pretty old – but this is brand, brand new sign.  Pictures below.

Fall and Harvest – Welcome!  Winter – feel free to get a slow start 😉

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Ah junk mail, how I love thee, let me count the ways…

Grin –

Mailbox and street number out on Bedford Road is complete.  Paul found a stone engraver who was able to add my house number to the existing granite post at the end of the common driveway (My parent’s and I struck out with two different sources).  I bought at Vanderhoof’s Hardware in Concord an extra large US Postal approved mailbox and from Concord Lumber some spray paint and a 4×4 post.  A quick trip to Woodcraft Supply for some exterior grade penetrating oil (and an opportunity to drool over all kinds of tools) and I was all set.  Over the last weekend, in a lazy sort of way, I put a number on the box and built a post.  My Dad got some iron rebar (for reinforced concrete) and I drilled a hole in the end of the post and drove the remainder into the ground.  The idea (given to me by one of the neighbors) is that if it gets hit by the town snow plow, the rebar will give or bend – but the rest of the post and mailbox will survive the impact (and on my Dad’s advice, the mailbox itself is not actually screwed down – it is just a tight fit on the wood undertray).

Seems to work pretty well – the only real issue is that it is a bit wobbly because the dirt is pretty soft – but lots of rocks and a stone wall – so a bit difficult to get a firm seat.  I wedged some rock around the post and seems ok – we shall see how it does

The stone engravers did really well to match the other house numbers by the way.

This week we got the fire permit and I believe the Board of Health has now signed off.  There may be few more inspections to do – but Paul believes that we can get an occupancy permit next week?   The Conservation Commission still needs to review and sign off on the pre-conditions – but they normally apparently like to wait till you have grass sufficiently established that you have mowed it twice before doing that.

Deck Acorn, according to Paul, is looking forward to finalizing their pictures so they can post it to their website.   The Bank is sending around their appraiser in the next few weeks and I can convert my construction loan into a normal mortgage and start paying principle – good stuff

Not sure when move in date will be – but it definitely is getting closer!

Pictures below.   Off to San Francisco next week

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