Big August ’16 photo update on the house progress – Post 2 – comparisons!

I realized I have so much stuff to post, that it was awkward to try and put everything into a single post.  I am going to break it into three posts.  This one is comparisons on progress and the next will have some interior shots

Below is what the property looked like when I was in the process of purchasing it – December 2012 vs now – from pretty much the same angle up the property line/driveway.

Still has a good feel and vibe to it !




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Big August ’16 photo update on the house progress – Post 1 – site work

I am slightly behind because I unexpectedly ended up working last Sunday and didn’t have time to put up a post.  I am gulping down coffee this morning because we had an absolute cracking large thunderstorm last night.  Lots of thunderbolts – I am pretty sure that at least one fell nearby because the was barely a quarter second or less difference between the bolt and the thunder.  No damage to the house or electronics fortunately

At my house, a ton of very visible stuff has been done – so lots and lots of pictures!  We are not quite complete with some plumbing, electrical and lighting still to do.  But lots and lots of site work.

The site guy Paul has is an absolute artist – he has done a fabulous job.  I have already gotten feedback from neighbors who have commented on how nicely the finished driveway has come out.  A smooth build up of layers, topped off with gravel (crush-and-run?).  He added in a cross driveway water drain in case it gets REALLY wet and very, very nicely built up the whole thing.  Apparently in a wet winter, the end of where my driveway is now historically was a puddle of epic proportions.  I think that we have alleviated  this pretty well.  Such a clean job – nice!

The propane tanks are now in and mounted, with a buried line to the generator.  The kitchen backsplash is installed and looks great.  The island overhead lighting system is mostly done – just pending the installation of the LED lights.  The second in floor electrical outlet is roughed in too.  Still to come is the toilet in the master bath.  We are getting close as the final items tick off

Ok – pictures of the outside site work


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Prep for the site work & variable weather in Carlisle

Today (Sunday 7/31/16) is cool and rainy – steady light rain.  A definite change of pace from a very dry June and July.  The grass here at my parent’s place is definitely looking California at the moment – dry and burnt golden.

Yesterday was quite a bit warmer and humid, though not scorching hot.  I took the opportunity to get the bush hog Billy Goat machine out and knock down the brush that had sprung back up along along the property edges since John Bakewell took it out last year.  Let me just say that young Bittersweet vines are tenacious, tough and very entangling.  At one point I got the machine stuck because so many vines were wrapping around us.  It took me 5 minutes to reverse out!  But it looks much better now.  Still a lot to do this summer along all the edges of the lower field (including along that side of the brook).

My dad and I have been batting around ideas for mechanical attachments for tractors – we have yet find the ‘perfect’ machinery for what we are looking for – one of the key things is able to do the pond banks – which are just a bit too steeply sloped and uneven for good walk behind equipment.  I have started to think about sickle bars powered by a rear mounted PTO setup like this.  They can usually provide a wide range of angles – from 90 degree vertical up to negative 75 degrees down.


On the house front:

The new stainless steel back splash arrived and we delivered it to the house on Saturday.  When I ordered the original piece, I did the math conversion in my head and I apparently made a mistake – it ended up being slightly too small.  Oh well – it wasn’t too expensive.  Hopefully the new piece fits properly!

Paul has installed fully the over head lighting panel system that will be above the island – a sample stainless panel and LED light is installed and it looks REALLY good.

Site work hopefully will be happening in the week coming up.  Gravel is onsite for the finish of the grade on the driveway I would guess.

Everyone – have a good week!


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Update July 24th – yesterday’s brief but intense storm left some impact

A very decrepit and quite unbelievably still alive butter nut tree along my parent’ driveway blew down yesterday evening.  I noticed it while cutting back the pernicious Bitter Sweet vines up near the street.

Also – my dad and I noticed a very large widow maker blocking half of South Street up near Heald Road – a smallish Oak tree snapped about 40 feet up and is still attached but collapsed partly across the street impeding flow.  Definitely will need a bucket truck to get that one out safely


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July 23rd in Carlisle – HOT

I am having coffee on Sunday 7/24/16 at 6:30am while I write this and it is a very mild 60 degrees on the porch.   Yesterday was very hot and I believe set a new record – something like 94 and humid.  We had an absolutely cracking rain storm zoom through around dinner time proceed by about 3 minutes of really violent winds.  I heard a wooshing sound like the winds through the mountain pines in the High Sierra and looked out at the 100′ maple trees on the other side of the field – their tops were being whipped 30′ or more from side to side.  I would guess the gusts at that level exceeded 50 mph.  Then it rained hard for about 15 minutes with really large heavy rain drops that sounded like hail but were not – just really, really large drops.

No lightening or thunder though.   About 30 minutes after that blew through, we had a sunset that was pure melodramatic MGM – think Wizard of Oz or Gone With the Wind over the top color.  So quite a day of contrasts!

This past week, I have been super busy – for our office in San Francisco, I have been working on extending our lease (along with BNY Mellon’s Real Estate team fortunately) for 3 or 4 years – it is all a blur now.  Finally it got signed on Wednesday – but we have a ton of stuff to do in order to move folks off one floor by 10/31, demo the floor and give it back to the building owner (we have been moving people around the globe and don’t need all the SF space any longer that we currently have).  Big burst of activity finally on the project – finally moving into the do phase!  I have been juggling a bunch of other stuff due to a number of my manager’s being out on medical leave so I was slight bit caught flat footed.  Pulled together a 830 line project plan/task list on Wednesday / Thursday and presented it to the Bank – it went over well which was great.  Now next week I just have to put together a move matrix for 100 people – who will start moving on August 1st!

On the home front, scheduling is coming together.  The electricians have been onsite wrapping things up and doing their usual fantastic, high quality job.  The final exterior wall sconce lights surrounding the garage / shop door were installed.  Also there is a new red fire-bell under the eaves – I am guessing this is part of the sprinkler fire safety system??  The generator is electrically connected to the house now as well.  Paul Hebert and I were talking and he is reasonably sure that his site guy will be there next week to move all the piles of dirt and rock around to their final locations.  That includes raising the grade for the car port, driveway etc…  and smoothing out the area where the concrete pad for the propane tank is going to be added.  Finally, the driveway lighting and motion sensors are coming along too.  We decided instead of fully installed driveway light posts, that we would do 10″ concrete posts with electrical outlets installed on the far side from the driveway.  Two reasons for this – one I am afraid of plow damage.  Second, I really have been unsure of what I want for lighting.  The driveway lighting was a suggestion of the electrician and was an add-on.  I basically came to the decision that I will make my own lights and plug them in.  Probably some sort of sculptures – maybe even seasonal 🙂

The project this weekend for my Dad and I is getting the tackle materials to hoist and mount the space shuttle experiment that currently hangs over my Mom’s sewing table (the experiment deserves its own full post – I am working on that with my Dad).  We went to West Marine yesterday and bought a number of Harken Marine 10mm single sheave blocks, jam cleats and cleats.  Plus 100′ of line.  Today we are going to go over to the house and try and plan it out on the ceiling for exact mounting (which will be easiest done with the scaffolding Paul has onsite once the kitchen lighting is complete?)

On a final note – the bridge is out!  But this time, it is because they are replacing it.  The old colonial era stone bridge (not an arched stone bridge – it was an old school set of stone slabs stacked on a rock foundation – workable but not capable of holding a modern heavy truck) was built on what we suspect was originally a ford across Spencer Brook on what is now Westford Road.  This is downstream Spencer Brook from my parent’s house and the shortest driving way to Concord from their house.   The old bridge was limited to 5.5 ton vehicles (which seemed like everyone ignored) and had a fair amount of problems with flooding and other issues.  It has been prepped for work for a LONG time.  This summer they actually are doing the project – they used a very large excavator to remove the road surface and the original, really, really large slabs of rock (probably 1-2′ in thickness, 12×6′ square) that were the actual bridge structure and have put in a new pre-stressed concrete bridge.  It looks to be significantly wider than the old bridge – which was several feet more narrow than the road – as the new bridge looks to be a few feet wider than the road itself.  They are currently facing the concrete with river rock.  It looks pretty good and it should be safer and function better during high water.  Tentative thumbs up – since it is fenced off, we didn’t go too close yesterday – but it it looks pretty good.

Now onto the pictures

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Happy 4th of July, 2016

Hello all and happy 4th of July!

I am enjoying a mellow holiday weekend in Carlisle.  The weather is very nice (low eighties with a fair amount of wind so it is very pleasant outside).  It has been dry this spring so it actually feels like August.  I and my parent’s are still shaking off at various speeds the spring cold/flu we caught.  It is annoyingly long lived.

Did some mowing up along the stone walls along the street yesterday and went over to take a look at the house.  Things there are progressing visibly.  The rear steps have railings now but I forgot to take a picture of them.  On the interior, the back splash materials arrived and Paul has mocked up the placement of the overhead lighting system for the island.  Soon apparently the site guy will be onsite to finish the grading and do hydro-seeding.  Maybe as soon as next week?

Below are some pictures of Old Home Day from last week that I pulled down from the Carlisle Mosquito online.  Looks like a fun time – next year I will be able to walk over and not have to deal with parking problems – so I will probably go.

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House numbers, decisions, Foss Farm, Battlefield re-enactments and the Horn of Gondor

I am feeling quite a bit better this weekend than last weekend – though I still have a bit of a chest cough from having the flu at the beginning of the month.  So forward !

I met Paul and his son Tim at the house yesterday and we took care a lot of final detail things.   We took measurements and located stuff into position

  1. The propane tank position was laid out – approximately 15′ from the generator towards the septic field in a generally flat area.  They are going to put in a concrete pad and trench a line.  It will generally be parallel to the septic line from the house to the septic tank.  This will have three main advantages in my mind.
    1. It will be on the side of the garage and out of harms way from falling ice and junk from the slope of the roof during the winter
    2. The location will make it easy for filling/servicing of the tank by the propane company
    3. it is far enough away that it will allow for easy mechanized access to the generator in case we need to remove/replace it in the future
  2. The house number placement was modeled.  We held it up in a couple different ways and decided on a spot near the exterior light at the foot of the entry ramp/patio and the carport
  3. We came up with measurements for the height of the light fixture over the island (7′ 6″ – which is basically the top of the cabinets as well – so it will line up with that – though we did not measure this till the end – thereby validating our eyeball “what looks good here” process)
  4. We discussed the power fixtures that are in the center of the floor in the living room that Tim Hebert came up with – which are fantastic.  I will take photos of those when they are fully installed
  5. Finally we spent a lot of time discussing and measuring for the sink back splash.  We decided on a 3 piece stainless steel backs splash in the texture of SANDTEX from Commerce Metals (scroll down the page at Commerce to see sandtex).  The main area directly behind the sink will cover the full area from the counter up to the bottom of the cabinets and shelves.  The areas to the left and right will only be 6 inches high (so we have clearance under the electrical outlets, light switches etc…).  I will order this online today
    1. 6″ by 3 feet,1 inch and 5/16 of an inch
    2. 35 and 3/4″ by 2 feet 2 inches and 1/8 of an inch
    3. 6″ by 2 feet 11 inches and 7/8th inches

Paul is also thinking about using sheets of this same stainless steel in the overhead lighting structure for the island.

Yesterday was Carlisle Old Home day (website here.  2016 program here).  Old Home Day is the local Independence Day celebration – held off cycle from the official holiday of July 4th so that people can travel “Home” to participate in the celebrations from their old home town and also on the official holiday.  Carlisle historically has only celebrated on Old Home Day as far as I can recall – there are no firework’s shows or parades on Independence Day.  Below – copied from the Carlisle OHD 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.

It is not clear how many such days were celebrated between 1919 and 1975; there were none for several years. But on Labor Day, September 3, 1934, Old Home Day was held by the Carlisle Old Home Day Association, which had its beginnings in 1913. This was in the depths of the Great Depression.

The next event is said to have been held on Labor Day, September 2, 1946, and was a welcome home event for World War II veterans, to whom Certificates of Appreciation were given.

Edmund L. French printed the programs through all these years until his death in 1982.

After another lapse, Mrs. Mary Sleeper, now of Rivercrest in Concord, NH revived the customs with a local committee in 1967 as a Fourth of July happening.

The enthusiasm for the Old Home Day event heightened in the mid-1970s, largely because of the bicentennial, it has continued consistently during these past three decades. In 1974, the late Andrew L. Brown chaired the event. An honored guest that year was Alfred M. Worden [Apollo Astronaut] of the Apollo 15 flight, and a friend and guest of Dave and Florence Reed.

As I was driving over to met Paul and Tim (at around 8:00am) I drove through the center of town and through the tail end of the road running race.   When we wrapped up, I decided that I would avoid going back through the center – so I headed out towards the Concord River with the intent of looping around.  I got distracted on the way by the sign for Foss Farm conservation land as I had not been there in several years.  I was thinking about the old Thuderbridge Musters held on Foss Farm around the Bicentennial in the 60’s and 70’s.  Mr. Foss, before he sold the land to the Carlisle Conservation Commission, allowed a LOT of varied use of his land, including the Colonial Minutemen Historical Musters.  I remember these vividly and being a lot of fun for a kid.  Below is an excerpt from the Carlisle the 2008 report on Foss Farm done by the Land Stewardship sub-committee of the main Commission (pages 28 and 29)

The first Annual Colonial Muster and Field Day at Foss Farm was held in September, 1967 (prior to the Town’s purchase of the land), with the Bedford Minute Men as hosts. Many attendees wore Colonial costume and a group marched from as far away as Charlestown. There were fife and drum drills, musket contests, and cannon firing. The day ended with a mock battle between the Redcoats and the Minute Men. This event became known as the Thunderbridge Muster (18) and was often held in subsequent years at Foss Farm, hosted by Carlisle’s Colonial Minutemen. Activities expanded to include a wide variety of events, including living history displays of Colonial crafts, oven baking, weapons, and music (19) The event was continued through the late 1970’s but was discontinued by the early 1980’s due to lack of interest. In its heyday, the event was enthusiastically attended and some re-enacting participants apparently refused to leave, camping overnight at Foss, firing shots into the evening, and leaving beer cans about for horrified residents to find in the morning. However, the event organizers always cleaned up.

(18)The term “Thunderbridge” refers to the iron and plank suspension bridge built in 1893 over the Carlisle half of the Concord River on what is now Route 225, replacing the bridge that was originally built around 1795 (Bull, Sydney A., History of the Town of Carlisle, Massachusetts. 1754-1920, The Murray Printing Company, Cambridge, MA, 1920; Carlisle Historical Society, Images of America: Carlisle, Arcadia Publishing, 2005. The term refers to the noise made when traveling over the bridge. The Heald House of the Carlisle Historical Society has an undated painting by Ed French of the “Thunderbridge”.
(19) Forsberg, Charlie, personal communication, 2008; Town Files – Foss Farm, Carlisle Town Hall, Carlisle, MA.

As I recall, there were a lot of demonstrations and contests like tomahawk throwing, musketry and a very long firing line of cannon.  The cannon shooting contests were crazy because they fired coffee cans filled with concrete at targets down field – the woods on the other side of the field were cleared and closed – but the Concord River was not.  My Dad recalls reports from canoeists on the river of the shot visibly skipping across the river as they paddled by.  Yikes!  Fortunately no serious injuries that I can recall.  I tried finding some pictures online and I was not able to – however, I did find a fascinating someone on Youtube who is a historical re-enactor who records from the first person point of view re-enacted battles.  Below is a re-enactment at Allaire Village – great detail on reloading the gun, marching, fixing bayonets and at the end, if you listen closely, comparisons of the battle field horns to Boromir’s Horn of Gondor!

Ok – on with my pictures!

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July 2016 San Francisco travel

I just booked my next flight to San Francisco

Friday, Jul 8 2016

BOS – SFO Flight 1355  – depart @ 10:15am.     Arrive at SFO 1:45pm



DATE  Sat, 07/16/2016

SFO-9:15 AM    BOS   6:05 PM

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Summer Solstice is right around the corner

Good morning – A couple of days till the summer solstice and summer is definitely here.

I was down and out last weekend due to the flu – so this is a bit of a catch up post, I didn’t feel very creative last week!

Things are moving into the home stretch at the house – the Carlisle Tax Assessor sent me a letter with a form to fill out (by month end) indicating how many bits and pieces are complete on the house (septic, foundation, insulation…).  The town’s fiscal year starts in July I think and they want to start collecting more taxes I suppose.  I am going to leave a copy of the form with Paul to fill out – it is basic YES/NO – is this complete or not type stuff.

Speaking of which, detail work is continuing and is very coordination/schedule driven I think.  The flooring guys came in and did a 2nd coat on the floor – which looks fantastic.  The lighting fixture for over the island is coming together – the beechwood box is onsite and also looks REALLY good.  Diane, my project manager at Deck House, noted to me that Paul is really good with built-ins when we were introduced and it is definitely true – you rock AND roll Paul!

Bathrooms are coming along and very close to finished.  I also saw this weekend that the last two exterior light fixtures from Hubbarton Forge appear to be onsite in their boxes – waiting for installation.

Things I still need to do but have been backlogged (at work, this is the busiest time of the year for us.  Friday was a big push and month end coming up.  All went well this week)

  1. Get the stone carver lined up to carve the house number on the granite post out by the mailboxes.  I think we are going to have Acton Monument do the work – but haven’t called them yet.  They appear to do mainly headstone engraving – which is obviously a lot of onsite work when adding ‘beloved spouse…” to a headstone already installed.
  2. Get a mailbox and post installed out by Bedford Road
  3. Get my butt in gear and get my internet equipment purchased.  This is what I am looking at getting the Cradlepoint Wireless Router with a Yagi antenna – getting in touch with their Mass. sales team is challenging since we keep playing phone tag.
  4. Get kitchen backsplash designed and ordered.  I pulled measurements yesterday.  I think I going with a stainless steel system from Commerce Metals online – stainless in the SANDTEX finish (scroll to the bottom) to minimize streaks.  We use some aluminum foil and masking tape to mock it up and it looked really good color/texture wise on the wall.
  5. LOTS of other stuff – but these are the critical path items at the moment.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer weekend.  Now some more coffee and to plan my next San Francisco trip



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House numbers – Mid Century style!

More mid century stuff – I needed a number for my house, so I ordered from a company I found as an advertiser in Atomic Ranch magazine that specializes in Mid Century modern styling.  I ordered my number (337) in cut stainless steel like the photo below but with the background plate in Capri Blue instead of red.  I wanted something that would stand out from the orange and browns of the house – since the point is to draw the eye and provide identification.  Look at the link here for the actual color


Moda Industria from Atomic Ranch Magazine advertising

Floating house number

I also have written to my neighbors about getting coordinated with them to etch the number in the granite post on Bedford Road.

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