May 2016 – a busy month

May has been a really busy month for me with a lot of travel for both work and personal.  I went to California twice, visited the BNY Mellon Innovation Center in Palo Alto which was super interesting and did general work stuff in the office.  Then a few days later my parents and I traveled back to the Bay Area for my niece’s college graduation from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga.  In between we installed an all flash memory storage array in the data center in Everett MA (aka – work stuff).

So lots of stuff to talk about.  I will do house stuff first and then family second.

House stuff.  While a lot has been going on, not all of it shows up as something to photograph.  But this month, a lot of things are coming together and Paul and I are talking about wrapping things up, getting final inspection permits and the final bank payment done.  Still a bit out over the horizon on the timeline, but the final pieces are coming together – and it is coming together GREAT!

My mad plan for the cantilevered island counter top, cooking & dining surface came out better than I had hoped – it looks fantastic.  It is a real show piece.  Other things that are done or have made progress.

  • Ceiling fan is installed
  • Sprinkler system is pretty much done, including the pump and the tank, sprinkler heads and cages
  • lighting is 99% installed
  • tile in the bathrooms is complete
  • Hot water heater is installed
  • Appliances needed for inspection are installed, including the kitchen sink.  (faucets are purchased but not installed yet)
  • Steps from the carport to the back of the house are in progress
  • The window seat is installed (and man, does it work well !)

One thing that is becoming very apparent is that the math for the size and shape of the eaves done by Deck House (while we were in the design phase) was spot on the target.  The amount of direct sunlight into the living room that is hitting the floor is reducing and already minimal.  We designed it so there would be absolute minimal heat loading inbound from the sun as of 6/20 and maximum as of 12/20 to help with passive cooling and heating.  It is working out great.  So is the choice of the light tan color roof – it just doesn’t absorb much heat either vs a darker color.  The house is really pretty cool even while the geothermal heat pump is not fully in use – just by basic design.

Below are some outside shots showing the stone work and a panoramic shot showing the house itself – double click on that to blow it up for details


Interior shots showing all the progress inside


Ok – on to family stuff 🙂

Going out for Margaret’s graduation was a LOT of fun even if it did involve a new hotel room almost every night (more on that later).  The flight out was rather long as it was Boston to Los Angeles to San Francisco and the Airbus had a mechanical problem in Boston (dead auxiliary power generator).  The Airbus needs two and carries three.  After two hours of sitting on the tarmac, they decided to load more fuel, have us fly lower and take off anyway.  Worked out ok but was a long tiring day.  The Best Western El Rancho Inn in Millbrae is within sight of the airport and is super organized for the air traveler.  I HIGHLY recommend them – nice rooms, fantastic organization and very reasonable rates.   We stayed there the first night and then onto Lafayette for the next night and a very early rise for graduation.  Saint Mary’s is down a single lane road – so the advice from the school and the locals was to be driving by 6:30am for the 9:20am start of commencement.  That turned out to be the absolute right thing as we were able to park close instead of 2 miles away!

Due to the sporadic rain and our seats, I personally didn’t get any photos (it would have been of umbrella’s) – but the school has posted a lot of good photos here.   Unfortunately Margaret was not feeling well and had a fairly high fever – sitting out in the rain for her was pretty tough but she got through it.  On to grad school !

We zoomed off to Santa Rosa to visit the Santa Rosa Fohls and stayed at the Marriott Courtyard near Rail Road Square – just missing the Amgen Tour of California bike race (one of the biggest in the United States with LOTs of European Pro teams using it as prep for the the Tour de France).   This was fortunate since our hotel was very close to ground zero for the circuit through downtown (3rd street).  The Amgen is very fun race to watch in person and I saw it many times when it passed through SF in years past – but I was just as glad to have a near miss this year.  We made a strategic decision to hang out at the hotel, have a drink in the bar, and go to bed early – which completely rejuvenated us.  The next couple of days were spent hanging out with family and really fun.  Of special note is the Sonoma Children’s Museum – it is pretty new but really, really, really great.  Lots of indoor and outdoor things for kids 6 years and under to interact with.  For the family, I will send around more photos but below is my youngest nephew Owen playing in the Choo-Choo and the museum entrance.

Other stuff:

It is the Memorial Day holiday so I thought I would include this here.  I walk past the Old Granary Burial Ground in Boston everyday to the MBTA and while they always keep it up very well, Friday it was in full spruce up.  All the veterans buried there had a flag and some had 2 or 3.  However, Samuel Adams – patriot, rabble rouser Son of Liberty, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Governor of Massachusetts was given his due – 4 flags.

Aaaand on a final note of a very long post, my Dad and I had fun time yesterday watching BOTH the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco and the Indianapolis 500 Indy Car race.  Both were exciting for different reasons.  The F1 race was very wet then dried out so strategy played a lot into it and a botched tire change by Red Bull probably was the key factor for Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes to win.  The Indy 500 was very exciting with a lot of competitive cars and many lead changes.  A number of cautions late turned it into a gamble of pitstops and fuel – a rookie won it sputtering in on fumes and a prayer – he had about a 1/2 lap lead and was out of gas – just coasted it around for the win.  Alexander Rossi – a Californian who spent a year over in Formula 1 before joining the Indy Car series – so an experience racer, even if it was his first trip to Indianapolis.  Michael Andretti’s team, through good strategy pulled off the win AND second place.  Good stuff.

Ok – off to June now!


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Doings around Carlisle – spring is trying to sneak in – which equals a post that is a bit of a rambler…

But not really making a lot of consistent forward progress.  Most of this week it has been below freezing or very close to freezing when I got up for work – but then moves into the 40s-50s and yesterday up to 60.  I did see two mosquito’s yesterday so spring is definitely on the horizon!

Leaves are starting to come out – on the weedy bushes (buckthorn) leaves are pretty well developed but for the trees at our end of town, nothing really.  In other parts of town that are not quite as cold at night maybe?  they are leafing out a bit more.

Lots of activity at the Clark Farm Stand in the greenshouses (now plural this year) and planting.

At the house, Paul and his son Tim are doing odds and ends like working on the shelving for the pantry and the closets.  Nothing really to take pictures of at this point.  Bathroom tiling and countertops are still pending – but the wall oven, cooktop and dishwasher are on site.

Paul suggested that I convert some utility lighting at the front of the garage/shop door to the same Hubbardton Forge exterior wall sconces (two).  My Dad and I took one that was already onsite outside on Saturday and held it up.  We decided that he was totally correct – so I went to Wolfer’s lighting and order two more of these babies.  To give you a sense of scale – they are 16″ inches tall.

At my parent’s house, we took advantage yesterday of the annual hazardous waste day at the dump/recycling center and took a Subaru load worth of old spray paint cans, exterior stain etc… over.  Lots of stuff that had been sitting in the woodshed for decades.  Because we were originally scheduled to have the roof replaced last fall, my Dad and I emptied all this stuff out onto the lawn – then nothing happened (Dave Ohlmstead got busy I guess) and everything sat in the snow over the winter.  Messy!

More Saturday stuff was that I went over to the house again with a Verizon and an AT&T cell phone and mapped out wireless signal strength – by walking around doing near the Kimball’s ice cream stand and then back along the trail to Bates pond, around it and beyond.  What I wanted to do was to get a good picture of where cell signal strength was in terms of direction around the my house.  Turns out that AT&T has one extra bar pretty consistently and the signal strength is higher to the north of the house.  I am still trying to figure out how to get internet and it looks like ‘cord cutting’ wireless is the only way to go.  If I do go this way, I will need an antenna booster and it looks like putting that near the computer nook will be the place to do it.

While I was walking around, I “discovered” that some very serious earthworks are involved with Bates Pond.  I always thought that Bates was a glacial hole – and it may be that – but it is pretty clear that someone went to a LOT of effort to enhance it.  On the uphill side is my property – on the downhill side is a wetland swamp that wanders off through the Greenough Conservation land eventually to the Concord River.  However, the land between the pond and the swamp is totally flat, about 30 feet wide and faced with really large rocks.  It very clearly has been shaped.  I mentioned this to my Dad and he recalled that the pond was man-made – and I think very clearly that it either is a total artifact or was enhanced heavily.  The question is why go to the effort?  Maybe it was Herb Bates creating a pond for water storage for cows while this was a working dairy?  I think some archival digging in the town library is in order – with my brand new library card I also got on Saturday!

Speaking of books and maps – I also bought two copies of the Carlisle Trails Committee map book (one for inside use, one to sit in the car for emergency ‘let’s go for a walk’ decisions :-).  I got an ice cream soda (vanilla of course) at Kimball’s while I was testing wireless reception strength and while I was looking at it, I noticed that the 1975 Bicentennial Map had listed six (6) mill sites in Carlisle.  This is two more than I was aware of based on the couple of histories of Carlisle books I had read.  A project I want to undertake is to document the mill sites – since one of them is on my property.  Now more to too look at!  The mills are:

  1. George Robbins Mill
  2. John Barrett’s Mill
  3. Adams’ Mill
  4. James Adams’ Mill  (two different locations)
  5. Robert Bloods Mill (this is on Pages Brook and is the mill site on my property)
  6. Solomon Andrews’ Mill

And finally, to round out a busy Saturday, I finally got to try out my new Axe (California Berkeley Bear fans can now be heard chanting – “We want the Axe, We want the Axe!”  – sorry, had to throw that little bit of Bay Area lore for you)

My good friend Tom McGillvray gave me an axe as a gift last year as I was preparing to leave San Francisco.  It is from a company called “Best Made” – which is an artist/artisan shop in New York.  Despite what they may say on their website, it is not a felling axe, as it is a bit too light and small for that – but it is a perfect limbing axe.  What is a limbing axe?  It is a sharp axe that is nimble enough to make its way around a felled tree and remove the small and medium sized limbs from the trunk.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it is actually an important job – otherwise, it is usually very difficult to approach the trunk itself or at least difficult to do that safely.  This new axe really, really made short work of some of the trees that fell due to storm damage over the winter.  As you can see below in a before an after.  Thank you Tom – a REALLY, REALLY nice gift!

Have a great weekend everyone!


postnote update:

When thinking about felling axes, they are a bit of a rough and tumble game.  In my personal experience, you want something that can take a beating but also be sharp – so a double bitted axe is in order – one side is very sharp for when you know you are not to bang into the ground or off a rock – the other side is less finely sharpened for trying to get in low and get at roots and things.

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Building a house is like building a sand dribble castle at the beach

About 10 years ago, I was heavily involved in building out our office space in San Francisco (about 96,000 square feet).  This is in a large downtown office tower and it was bare concrete floors and completely empty floor to ceiling on 4.5 floors – so about 22K square feet per floor.  Our architects were great and the space came out very nice while still being cost effective.  An interesting take away I got from that experience is that EVERYTHING is a decision and those decisions build on each other – like dribbling sand at the beach to make a dribble castle.  Every decision is dependent on the small little decisions that you made earlier.  We are at a stage now on my house project that this is really clear

Not a whole lot has obviously happened since the last post – but things are staged for an explosion of obvious progress.  Specifically, take a look at the photos below.

Blue tape is on the cabinets showing where the door pulls will be.  Dribble-dribble. The I-Beam is now in place (temporarily tacked down with generic screws).  Each cut, mount hole, size of the plate, the under beam mounting blocks were things that we discussed and mulled over and finally made a decision about – all oriented on how to give good leg room under the counter surface while still providing the support needed for the counter itself – and look good?  Dribble-dribble.   This is not a unique or an original observation obviously – but it struck me particularly yesterday when I was visiting just because there are so many decisions that have been taken but not fully put into action on display.

Things that are prepped and pending

  • A lot of the appliances have arrived – the dishwasher and cooktop are in the house (still in their boxes)
  • The door pulls are marked out
  • The master bath tiling looks about to start (materials are here).
  • Plumbing fixtures are showing up and getting prepped
  • Light fixtures are onsite and ready for installation
  • Templates have been made for the counter tops (cutouts for the sink, cooktop etc…) and the counter tops are in progress
  • Surface treatment (3 coats ultimately) is partially complete – the bedrooms are at 2 coats, main public area is at 1 coat

All in all – there should be a lot of good stuff show off soon – built off of all the little prep work that Paul and his team have been putting so much effort into these past few weeks.  The house is looking just fantastic  🙂

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Snow in April

It is snowing here in today but we are not supposed to get much.  But it is supposed to be very windy later today – up to 58 mph gusts.  My Dad was scheduled to look at some potential archaeology sites out by Worcester today – but he conferred with the rest of the group yesterday and wisely called it off.  There are a lot of damaged trees in the woods this year from the one storm that had really heavy snow (see pictures of storm damage in this earlier post)  – there are a number of “Widow Makers” hanging around here and being out in 50+ mph winds could be quite dangerous – and uncomfortable too!

Anecdotally, my Dad has noted that one of the leading cause of death in Colonial times was being killed by falling tree limbs/widow makers.  We have a theory that these are more common when trees grow without a lot of competition (lower stress, faster growth, less strength).   Today, New England is a reforestation success story – I believe up until the 1990s the net generation of forest land was enormous, only recently leveling out as farming went into a steep decline here.  Around our part of the state, a LOT of trees, of many different species, have been sort of falling apart for no particular good reason that we can see.  The only link is that they appear to be the same general age – between 50 and 100 years old.

This would have also been common in early colonial times as the pre-contact local Indian tribes used to keep the land fairly clear for farming – but they were heavily decimated by disease early on and that activity would have slowed way down in the late 1500 and 1600’s (possibly).   So similar conditions leading to similar weaker than normal trees, leading to more trees falling apart?

Potentially difficult to come up with direct evidence to support that theory – but interesting musing.

On a different subject, I was out sick for a number of days last week (feeling a bunch better now thank you!) – too much getting woken up in the middle of the night (Brussels bombing alert from work, Fire alarms) on top of a fast trip back and forth to San Francisco.  However, Atlantic Industrial Models finished up the I-Beam and it has been delivered to the house.  They are still working on sanding the floor but Paul can at least do final measurements for the island.  Oh – and Wolfers lighting called and the special order fixtures have arrived.

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Doings around Carlisle and house update

I was in California last week so a bit late on posting

Prior to going to San Francisco, my parent’s and I took a walk along Two Rod Road in advance of the incoming snow storm Sunday evening (still was a bit squishy).  Two Rod Road heads off toward’s Concord, passing by Punkatasset hill before making for Concord proper.  We set off from the Malcolm Meadows parking area and even though it is spring time, it managed to look fairly ‘Spooky Hollow” forbidding.

According to the trail guide published here, Two Rod Road was built to service the Blood family – who settled the part of Carlisle where my new house is and they where the family that built the sawmill in 1660 that is on my property.

“Two Rod Road and Estabrook Road:

There are two roads within Estabrook Woods that connect Concord with Carlisle to the north . Two Rod Road was built about 1697 at the request of James Blood of Carlisle so that he would have a road from his house to Concord. It was built within a right-of-way between two stone walls set 33 feet (two rods) apart. In 1735, a second, better-known road was built from Concord to Carlisle, the Old Carlisle Road which became the Estabrook Road. This road, really a cart trail, was the route used by Minutemen from Carlisle and elsewhere to join the fight at Concord, April 19, 1775. It is the only known Minuteman route-of-march that remains in its original condition. “

A nice walk – but you could definitely feel the snow in the air – a raw day

Goings on at the house are exciting and picking up speed.  The slate floors are all in as of the end of last week and Paul is planning on starting the sanding of the oak floors tomorrow (Monday).  The slate and the tile look great.  Atlantic Industrial Models was doing machine work on the I-Beam last Friday – so it should be finished Monday or Tuesday.  My Dad is going to pick that up as well this week.

Great stuff!

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Winter storm clean up is needed

A few weeks late, but some photos of winter storm damage.  Today (3/13/2016) is now fully spring.  I was in NYC late last week and it was 81 degrees on Thursday down there AND in Carlisle.  Things are not kicking into gear in terms of spring growth – but you can see it out on the horizon.

I am going over to my property today and I am going to spread around some wild flower seeds from American Meadows (a special mix of native wild flowers – both annual and perennials designed for New England).  It may not work since I am just going to be doing it the natural way (tossing things around by hand) and the final site landscape work has not been done – but it shouldn’t take long either.

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Big house update

It has been a few weeks since I last posted.  I have been travelling a fair bit and lots has gotten done

First off and exciting – the Geothermal system is installed and running.  With that up and going, Paul was able to bring the house up to full temperature and get the floor and trim to all acclimatize and stabilize over a period of a week.  The red oak flooring and trim are now installed and look absolutely great!  This includes wonderful oak heating/cooling floor vent registers that just cleanly blend in.

Interestingly, with the hardwood floors in, the house feels a light quieter and softer from an acoustic perspective.


We made final decisions on flooring for the entryway and the bathrooms based on the samples Paul got.  We are going with the Home Depot Montauk Black slate in 12×24″ size for the full entry, utility room, laundry room and pantry as well as the bathroom floors.  The bath tile in the master bath is Ice White Home Depot Daltile (3×6″ subway) in a stacked pattern (no overlap from one course to the next) and an octagon flooring.  We are going to have an orange/pumpkin accent color strip running horizontally around the bath at around the inset soap dish level – to break up the pure white look.

Atlantic Industrial Models sent to me the CAD design for the I-Beam machine work and I signed off on it – it looks great and I can’t wait to see the results in person!.  They should be cutting metal very soon – which means we can pick it up soon and the kitchen island can progress

My parent’s and I went over to Wolfers Lighting and picked out all the fixed lighting fixtures/product and paid for it all in one fell swoop.  It should be really great!  I did purchase a couple of special order items from Hubbardton Forge – a local Vermont Blacksmith lighting fixture company.  Fantastic craftsmanship and design aesthetic.

What I ordered from them:

I also got LOTS of track lighting for both the house and the shop.  It will run along the main beams in the house and some 64′ of track along the full length of the 3 walls in the shop.  This should provide a lot of task lighting there.


Finally here are some outdoor shots with new angles

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Cold, cold, cold Washington’s Birthday holiday in Carlisle

This morning (Sunday), at sunrise, it was a chilly -21 degrees Fahrenheit on our front porch (indicated at -16 but we normally find a 5 degree difference due to heat from the house impacting the thermometer).  The temperature at the town center is showing at -11.  I think the difference is that we are downhill in a bit of a hollow and at this temperature, the cold air is pooling.  Brrrrr!  good thing we have coffee!

I took Friday off to do more house stuff.  My Dad and I went up to Essex MA to visit Atlantic Industrial Models.  Joe Fossa (the owner) and my Dad go way, way back and I have heard, many, many good stories but have never met him before.  Joe and his team, over the years, have done a LOT of prototyping, model making and small production runs for my Dad – both at GTE Sylvania Lighting (think lightbulbs, camera flash – all sorts of lighting products) and various businesses that I my Dad and Mom started after my Dad retired from Sylvania.

I am having Atlantic Industrial Models machine the aluminum I-Beam for the cantilever section that will underlay my counter top on the kitchen island.  Despite my ‘not to scale‘ drawings, he got it right away.  I get the impression that a lot of what they get is a verbal description and a lot of hand waving – so the fact that I had drawn plans and written things down was a general added bonus.  We also got to spend some time shooting the breeze about his Cessna 180 float/ski plane which sounds really neat and looking at some of the photos of some custom automotive work they do.  A shop down the street is a super high end historic car restoration shop (they restore cars that are entered – and win – at the Concourse d’Elegance at Pebble Beach).  Some of the total one-off machining that Joe’s team did is just out of this world.  They also do need it, but can’t get it anywhere else type of work like casting custom rubber pads for the pedals on a pre-WWII Hispano-Suiza or something equally exotic.  They are really, really capable folks

Below are the plans that I gave to Joe – hopefully it will help describe what I am doing.  The core idea came from “Atomic Ranch Midcentury Interiors”  – Modernist Tract House, 1958 on pages 123-145.  If you are interested in this stuff, I suggest picking up a copy of this book or subscribing to their quarterly magazine (Atomic Ranch)

In flooring and tile news – the pricing came back on the materials I picked out and the cost was 3x my budget plan.  Not good.  So I am back to re-thinking things.  I am kind of leaning towards doing the floor in Home Depot Montauk Black slate (like this below) – picture from a Houzz article on slate floors

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Flooring and tile – some decisions have been made

Saturday was beautiful and cold after the snow on Friday (more on the way potentially – a series of Alberta Clippers are on their way – which is normally moisture starved storms from Alberta but they appear to potentially be meeting up with wet low pressure fronts coming up from the Carolinas – but that is another future day!)

We went to Fitzgerald Tile in Woburn, and while they were large, their selection was all relatively the same, and they only do ceramic tiles.  We left feeling a bit underwhelmed.  So we tried Upstairs Downstairs in Acton –  they are pretty small, but have a very large selection and it is extremely varied.  Another thing I liked is that they are not afraid of color!  The owner helped us and she was very good.  Decisions were made on some fronts – though she insisted that I wait for the kitchen counter top be installed around the sink before I choose the back splash. She thinks it needs to pop – be an art statement just as our house vinyl flooring are which we got done by Glasgow floor specialists around the house in the same pattern.  I like this idea on one hand, but I also am leery – since I have a multi-decade history of not bothering to hang up my art work once I move into a place and I am afraid of losing momentum…

But decisions:

  • Entry way flooring, flooring for the bathrooms is going to be a multi-colored (I think South African) slate in a 12″ x 24″ pattern
  • Flooring for the walk in shower will be the same stone in a 2″ x 2″ pattern since there is a single center drain – this will assist in layou
  • Bath wall tiles are a 2″ x 4″ cream color (with a light crazing of the glaze)(I am not entirely sure of the dimensions – but they were smaller than a subway tile).  Then we will have a pumpkin colored accent strip.  This pumpkin tile is slightly thicker than the other tile, so we specified a border/accent strip in stone.

My original plan was to have the kitchen back splash the same as the bathroom – but both the designer and my parent’s thought that was bad idea – so we are holding off.  This could lead to all sorts of mad ideas from me (like I woke up in the middle of the night and thought of a high density LED video wall, with rotating photos, behind a sealed glass cover).  More to come here

Below – some grabbed generic pictures of African Slate to give you an idea of what this will look like.  We think it will go well with the planned Red Oak floor (a decision we made Friday while talking with Paul)

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Winter Storm Lexi, working on measurements for the kitchen island and tile stuff

I took today off to meet with Paul and get the final plan for the aluminum I-Beam cantilever and to go and choose tiles for the entryway floor & bathroom floors, the kitchen back-splash and tile in the bathrooms.

My Dad and I went over and met with Paul (and his son Tim) and they were working away, toasty and warm.  We had a good back and forth discussion and came up with the following plan

  1. Counter top will be 39″ by 101″ of quartz – London Fog
  2. The full width of the I-Beam will be used – no cutouts.  This will necessitate building up the supporting wall under it from the current 2″ to 4″ wide
  3. we will have Atlantic Industrial Models machine and add a 3/8ths thick aluminum plate that is 55.5″ by 20″ inches and bolts to the top of the I-Beam.  The will underlay the counter top on top of the cabinets to the cook top – adding rigidity
  4. the “Aerospace lightening” holes will run the full length of the I-Beam.  Paul will add a maple or other wood surface to the back of the cabinets
  5. to secure the I-Beam to the support wall, Atlantic will add holes through the outside, lower part of the I-Beam.  Ideally counter sunk so that wood screws can be used and be flush with the surface.  These holes will start 36″ from the cantilever end and will be about 12″ apart  (Paul requested sizes be sufficient for #10 or #12 wood screws – we need to bring samples to Atlantic)
  6. the full length of the I-Beam will be used – not shortened
  7. My dad suggested we do an angle relief of 60 degrees instead of my planned 45 – which sounds good.

Below is a picture of trial layout and the current drawings

So job #1 complete for the day

Job #2 was to go pick out tile for the entry floor, bathroom floors, kitchen back splash and bathroom walls/shower etc…

Unfortunately, Winter Storm Lexi has other plans.  It was only supposed to snow 1-3 inches but it has been snowing a lot more than that and it is very heavy wet snow and very slippery.  We had no problems getting over to see Paul at the site, but we saw several cars and trucks slipping and sliding and lot of tree limbs down on the way over.  It was even more slippery on the way back – including what was almost a 360 degree spin out of one of the Town of Carlisle snow plows coming out of South Street (by the This Old House feature house on South Street/Bedford Road intersection).  Going down South Street we had to stop and clear a tree limb that had fallen entirely across the road – two guys out for a walk got most of it before I had my mittens on but I helped clean up the broken bits and had a chance to talk with them – apparently they heard it come down only a minute or so before.  It was about 45′ feet long – so it was completely blocking the street from edge to edge.

We decided that going out onto Route 128 did not sound like a good plan – so we are going tomorrow morning instead

Pictures below!


UPDATE  at 2:00pm – just shoveled the front walk, pull cord on the snow blower partially snapped and needs replacement so it was manual tool time! – but is also wrapped up under the cover so we decided not to fall back on the electric starter since we were not sure what was trapped against what.  About 8-10″ of very heavy snow on the ground and about ever 15 minutes you can hear tree limbs breaking off in the woods

UPDATE2  – sunset photos and others here on Google+

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