Minus 11 degrees

EDIT – if you are seeing slow performance, apologies for that – it seems like my hosting provider, for unclear reasons, moved my website to a server farm in London UK.  I have no idea why

A cold start to 2018 for sure – today (Sunday Jan 7) it is negative eleven fahrenheit outside as I am typing this.  Below are some pictures from sunrise at my house yesterday morning

We had Winter Storm Gayson blow through fast and hard on Thursday.  About a foot of snow, but lots of wind and continued drifting as it has been very cold for the past several weeks – so the snow is dry.  Now things are generally wind packed down and layered – which is neat.

I am trying to get back into the flow of regular posting – the last half of 2017 was busy and tumultuous – I also had my job change (and it is still changing) as my subsidiary started the process of merging with two other subsidiaries under my parent company.  It has been crazy as we have all been groping around trying to figure out how to make it a success.  Things are coming together better now, which is good, since the legal join up happens on 1/31/2018 !   (to give you an idea, we don’t have a name yet )

So – since my last post – what has been happening?

In August, something that the Carlisle Fohls have been looking forward to for a long time actually happened – the driveway at my parent’s house got regraded/rebuilt.  It had turned into a definite country lane over the last 4 years – a high center line and deep slopes /ridges on each edge.  It had become a bit of gymnastics exercise to keep it mowed properly in the summer and it had become very difficult to snow plow in the winter (the ridges prevented the plow from pushing the snow off to the side for long stretches – he had to just blast ahead which was very hard when there was a lot of snow).  My Dad finally was able to track someone down who would actually show up and they did a wonderful job – raised the bed up, knocked down the sides, filled in holes – everything

In September we did some nice outdoor stuff – we took a trip one weekend to the Acton Arboretum – which is a really, really neat place that is right near us but I was not even aware it existed.  Some really cool plants and clearly a LOT of love and energy has been going into it for a long time.  I ended up only taking pictures of their grape arbor however to get ideas for building something like it myself.

My Dad and I also, as part of the get moving around outdoors campaign, a short walk over at the Carlisle Cranberry bog.  The bog is now shutdown primarily due to the extreme price depression for cranberries – Farmer Duffy can’t make any money farming them and has decided not to renew the lease (the vines are 100 years old and not super productive and the prices are very depressed – not a winning combination).  The town is trying to figure out what to do with things.

Both my parent’s and I on another weekend, took a trip over the Minute Man National Park and walked in over to the Hartwell Tavern on the original Battle Road.  It is restored and they have an onstaff re-enactor staffers who interpret the site for visitors – who was a very interesting person.   We walked down the Battle Road to Samuel Hartwell House.  It is now only a frame structure because it was destroyed by fire – but it was an operational restaurant up into the late 1950’s or early 1960’s – my parent’s both have memories of eating there.  The whole place is pretty neat – I want to go back again once the weather warms up!



here are photos of the Samuel Hartwell house

In late September, I went to the Microsoft cloud computing conference in Orlando – man was it hot and humid.  It was in a giant convention center – each day was about 5-7 miles of walking for an event where you are supposed to be sitting in presentation sessions!


October was a blur, but I finally got to take a vacationy vacation – Tom McGillvray and I rented a small house on Nantucket.  Pat Clouthier, her sister and some friends also stopped by over Halloween – it was chilly but very fun and much needed

we were in walking distance to the main town – which was nice – and the Halloween celebration was really fun.  Great costumes by everyone and extremely family oriented – lots and lots of kids.  We saw one adult costume which was a Mexican Pinata with two people in it – they were walking along throwing candy out the bottom.  It was really funny and popular as you might expect.  The next day, we went to a local yarn shop and got talking to the owner about the costumes from the prior night and we mentioned the Pinata – turned out it was her and a friend in the costume!   They showed us video they took from inside.  They had cheesy mariachi music and margaritas too !  very fun

We also spent some time at the Nantucket Winery / Whiskey distillery / Nantucket Brewery.  Despite what you might think about such a combo organization – they do a VERY nice job with their products and have a great outdoor tasting setup.  We had a very good time sitting in the sun, tasting and then having someone else (Uber) pick us up and take us back to town 🙂


And some more photos after Halloween

And finally December 2017 and year end – snow and ice

up until late November and early December, it was deceptively mild here in New England.  It has been COLD since then however – we had an ice storm around Christmas and it has snowed a lot and stayed very cold to very, very cold since then.  Well below zero overnight and some days very windy, creating a strong wind chill.  Lots of hot chocolate

and finally – everyone please stay warm!


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Art is now being installed at the new house

Today my Dad and I finished the construction and installation of the custom art hanging hardware for the awesomely awesome Forbidden Planet canvas art hanging that Tom McGillvray gave me as gift several years ago when we were still roommates in San Francisco.

Across the street from our old condo is a furniture and furnishing store called HD Buttercup – they specialize in low production run eclectic furniture and items as well as left overs.  Worldwide pool of procurers apparently and lots of wild stuff.

One day, Tom and I wandered in (I think because we were moving out to a rental apartment and needed some different furniture??).  Anyway, as I remember it, there was a giant canvas hanging that was a reproduction of the 1933 King Kong movie poster and my immediate reaction was ‘that is SO COOL !”  .  Apparently Tom remembered it and knew that I was a big fan of the film Forbidden Planet  – so he bought it for me as a present !!  Thank you again Tom!

It is very large so it has been rolled up for a number of years till I had somewhere to hang it – now I do and I have 🙂

We mounted it on a trimmed up and slimmed down 2×4, 7 foot long piece of pine and used mounting hardware from http://www.arakawagrip.com/solutions/art-hanging – which is a cable based system that is VERY easy to move art around.

I think it look super good (plus I have a new, modern style wool rug and some new pillows that my Mom just finished).  The pillows are super duper cool – heavy white cotton duck fabric and very smooth dyed fabric from Kauai on the front – with embroidered turtles and dolphins.

Things are starting to shape up.  I might go over to a West Elm store tomorrow to look at some chairs and other furniture that I cannot easily build.

Cheers everyone!

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I miss him a lot…

My younger brother Pete passed away on July 7th.  I miss him.

more below the break

Continue reading

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Professional photos of my house are here!

The Marketing team at Acorn Deck House Company has very, very graciously given me permission to use some of the photos they took recently of my house.  I believe they are working on a new version / update of their website and some of this material looks like it will be included.

Thank you so very, very much to Paul Hebert, Tim Hebert and all of Paul’s crew – you guys are FANTASTIC.

To Acorn Deck House – you are so wonderful to work with and I truly appreciate your generosity in letting me use some of your material in this blog.

To Atlantic Industrial Models – Joe Fassa and team.  Thank you very, very much for the wonderful execution of the metal work shown here

And finally, a huge shout out to Anthony Crisafulli for the awesome photos

Embedded YouTube video below – the embedding forces it to be pretty small – I recommend going to the bottom right hand corner of the video and either clicking on the FullScreen icon or clicking over to YouTube so you can watch it there.  Great Stuff!

All I can say is WOW – what great photos Anthony!

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Recent trip to California

I just got back from a short trip to California.  Besides normal things like meeting up with friends, checking in on things in the office, we had a work BBQ.  8 folks from our office in Pune India are over visiting for training and the team self organized a wonderful BBQ at Shadow Cliffs Recreation Area in Pleasanton, CA.  I think it is a re-use of a former gravel pit (there is a cement and gravel company up the road).  A wonderful place for families – there is a swim area with full lifeguard support that very gradually goes out into the lake and the water is warm.

We had about 60 people show up and I was so busy chatting and flipping burgers and dogs on the grill, I forgot to take any people shots.  All I personally took was when I took a brief walk to check out the rest of the lake

Coming back to New England was a bit of a shock.  May 2017 was the 5th wettest month on record and was cold (40’s and 50’s mostly).  When I left for California it was mid forties – stepping out of the airport on my return, it was 97 degrees and very humid.  Driving home (around 5:00pm at this point) – I was heading south on Rte 95 when I passed through a thunderstorm.  Sheeting down rain and in 1/3 of a mile the temperature dropped from 98 degrees to 81 degrees!  The storm was only 1 mile wide and then the temp shot back up again on the other side.  Very weird!

Summer is finally coming!

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2017 – A cold and wet spring in Carlisle

Spring so far has been a bit disorganized for me – which has been mirrored on the weather front as well.  Since my last post, we had a least one late snow & ice storm and several cold fronts of rain blowing in.  But grass is growing, trees are budding and planting is going on.

In terms of planting, I have been working with John Bakewell of Carlislearboriculture to put in a traditional English hedge along my property line with the Kimball’s property.  See my prior post here

John arranged for Rototilling and in April I helped him plant the Hornbeam, Hawthorn and Arrowwood.  Yesterday I planted the Blueberries, Grapes and I also planted my four American Chestnut seeds.

  1. Twenty Five seedlings of Hornbeam
  2. Twenty Five seedlings of Hawthorn
  3. Twenty Five seedlings of Arrowwood
  4. Six seedlings of Concord Grape
  5. Six seedlings of Frontenac Grape
  6. Six potted Blue Berrys

I stumbled across the American Chestnut Foundation a few years ago somehow and I joined last year as a Chestnut Leaf Sponser, which as a benefit, allowed me to get 4 chestnuts for planting.  The ACF is attempting to get around Chestnut blight and re-establish the American Chestnut tree into the North American forest.  Before joining, I had never realized that Chestnuts made up 25% of all trees in the US forests and in some places, fallen chestnuts could be a foot deep or more.  When you think of today’s forests, they are out of balance from what they used to be – the calories inherent in the chestnuts are missing.

The four chestnuts that I have planted are the property of the ACF and I have to report back regularly on their progress – a neat way to participate in something that could be very transformative of the countryside in the coming decades!

Speaking of transforming, my Dad and I are working on reconstructing his workshop and decluttering it of equipment and stuff that he is not regularly using.  For his birthday, he received a new sander.  I am taking his old sander out of the shop.  We are also looking at getting the wiring re-done and a lot more lighting that is also task focused.  My birthday gift to him is building a customized workbench for the new sander.  In the picture below, you can see the shop at maximum clutter – now thankfully already being reduced

Plenty of projects still to go!

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Winter decided it was not finished

A quick post because I haven’t accomplished much on the personal front in the last few weeks.  Winter decided that it wasn’t really finished with New England and it got really cold again and winter storm Stella showed up with 18″ or so of very heavy wet snow (at least in Carlisle) – our biggest snowfall all season.

I haven’t really gotten my heated shop set up yet because I need to make my first workbench (plus other things) and it has been routinely in the single digits or the teens every morning for the past month (?) – or for a while anyway.  That is bit too cold to easily overcome in my Dad’s unheated (and not insulated) shop.  So a bit of a hiatus on building stuff at the moment.  But scheming – I mean PLANNING, yes that is what they call it – planning! has continued.  I have pretty much decided on a main workbench structure.  It will combine a Ruobo (French) bench with some features of old German benches (sliding deadmen) and English work benchs.  German and Ruobo are very close cousins in that they are heavy structures while an English bench is more light weight and designed as a torsion box or monocoque.  I like the idea of sliding dual vises but also the large clamping surface of the English bench.

Anyway my “plan” is to assemble the top using threaded steel rod and nuts that are through drilled instead of doing a giant glue up of the top surface – an idea that my Dad had.  Some glueing will be needed in order to handle the joint work around where the legs are – but ideally I can avoid laminating a 300-400 pound top!  More to come on this

Also planned is a new Drill Press from Woodcraft supply – my Dad and I really like this one – it is very, very smooth operating.  Precise.  It is a couple hundred more dollars than the well respected JET floor height model, but it is noticeably better made

Pictures below of the various bench design families I am talking about here

Ok – now I have more coffee – where was I  (I am sitting at my kitchen island with the sun coming up over my shoulder, coffee in hand and Amazon Alexa playing some Chris Isaak from the cloud).  Thats right – winter and snow.  Definitely spring feels far away at the moment – it is clear right now but supposedly it is going to snow latter today.

Plans for the spring are to do house stuff but also get out and map out the old mill sites around Carlisle and compare them to site on my property.   Something I want to do BEFORE the poison ivy arrives – lol


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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 8020.com 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 www.rakks.com 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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