Monday, May 26, 2008

The Delight of Flight

I stand in the oil-worn floor at my auto mechanic's shop. He slowly types information in for my car inspection. I stare idly at the clutter and gradually realize that I'm looking at three model airplanes.

When he's done, Dan hands me my papers and breaks the silence.

'You're on Old Tenney. Who owns the ABC building? I need a place to fly my planes.'

I answer with what knowledge that I have and he talks about his model airplanes. One has a cracked fuselage. He hasn't flown the other one.

But most importantly, he needs a place to fly the planes because there are too many wires at the school up the road.

We finish talking and I leave.

Last night, I walk Old Tenney Road towards sunset with my camera. On my return, I have a fleeting idea that I could capture the reflection of the sunset off Furnace Brook by the old pump house. So I walk towards the ABC building where the pump house is.

I hear the sound first. The buzzing of model airplanes and I look over the ABC building to see planes buzzing, lifting, and rolling in their flight.

I walk the driveway, or should I say tarmac, and watch as one plane spirals down into the brook! The little crowd at the far end of the runway laughs! Apparently, the wing broke in mid flight and the young man returns with the plane, one foot drenched by the brook and muck that the plane landed in.

Ready For Takeoff 1

A young woman smiles and says, 'Dad wired the pilot in this plane to look either left or right depending on where you turn the plane.'

Dan beams!

I laugh as he prepares the plane for its first flight.

Taxi Down the Runway

Eventually, Dan warms the plane up with a taxi down the runway and eases the plane, motor screaming, for its first ever flight into the cool late afternoon air.

In Flight Photo

The little crowd is enthralled as Dan guides the plane higher, farther, swaying large circles around us and buzzing the parking lot for photo opportunity.

He calls one of his daughters over to see the controls and the girl laughs and refuses to try and fly it.

The plane soars, glides, rolls, and eases through the air. He makes a low pass over the field and begins another ascent.

'Oh no! Oh no!' Dan yells. 'This isn't good!' We watch stunned as the plane surges and the sound from the motor stutters.

'Oh no!'

The plane clips a small false olive tree and crashes into a patch of cat tails in the swampy channel that the Furnace Brook flows through.

Dan scurries along and I follow to see the wreck. We look into the swampy mess and predict where the brook runs. Dan walks to the far side of the brook and since I wear sandals, I decide to move in.

There's enough firm ground that I reach the plane at the same time Dan touches the edge of the brook on the far side.

'How's it look?'

'Good. There's fuel under the plane body.'

'That's ok.'

I feel a sting in my fingertip where I balance the plane off the hot exhaust system. Ouch!

I find a better place to carry the plane, I emerge from the muck to set the plane down on the pavement.

Dan's back and asks again, 'How does it look?'

'There is a little tape unfurled here.'

'It was like that before. She looks pretty good. Not a bad place to crash, I guess.'

I nod and smile. I said goodbye to the crowd and I walked home, listening to the buzzing of airplane motors as the crowd enjoyed the delight of flight.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Basketball Question

Gravel pops under my tires as I slowly ease the car past the basketball court. My eyes, and Erik, Troy, and Edwin's are all glued on the pack of young high school boys who are playing a game under the single hoop. More boys sit at a picnic table at the edge of the court.

Privately, we each debate if we should join them. Or challenge them. My thoughts sway between staying or leaving because for some reason I am strangely intimidated by the boys.

In our stoic Finnish way, we vocalize a decision to play. I stop the car and turn off the motor. Erik and Troy spring out and approach the boys. I reach behind the seat for my indoor soccer shoes in exchange for my sandals.

I join the trio and the current game wraps up. We pass Erik's worn ball around and I wait to see what we'll do.

From under a mop of shaggy, blond hair, one of the young men looks at us. 'Game to 11. Four on four.'

Out of pity, we old men get the ball first. Troy is the pup at 26. I'm 37. Erik 38. And Edwin's 70.

Oh boy.

Game on.

Surprisingly, I seem tall against the other team so I start at the baseline. Erik and I used to have a telepathic basketball connection and I wonder idly if we still do.

I move up and set a pick. Troy whizzes by, floating, and dipsy-dos a layup.

King's court and we keep the ball.

Troy snaps a pass to Erik. I move again from the low post. The ball bounces into my hands and I flip the ball to Troy who cuts strong to the hoop.


Easy layup.

Erik's on top. Gives a pass to Troy and receives the ball as he goes to the hoop. Short jumper. Score.

Troy shoots, miss. I spring for the rebound and score on the putback!

'What's the score?' I ask, grinning a little.

'Five nothing.' Soon the huddle of boys sitting on the table takes keen interest in the game; calling out.

'Oh man! You got schooled! Oh, that hurts! Are you in the NBA? Can you dunk?'

The game finds its momentum and some of the young men hit a couple of outside shots. Swish. We counter with five or six fundamental plays. Pick and rolls. Give and gos. Outside shots. Dipsy-do layups.

The boys try to get our attention by cursing.

Erik and Troy say simply, 'No cussing boys. No cussing.'

King's court so they stop.

But they continue, 'I thought that we were good!'

Game one ends 11-3. Game two 11-5.

We split teams for our final game by a shoot-around for teams. This turned into comedy as everyone went cold and clang after clang off the rim.

Finally, I ended up with three boys playing Troy and Erik and two other boys.

Troy and Erik's team wins, but not before I school Erik a few times with some clever defense. The boys, I learn, are talented, but quite lazy. So more importantly than our talent, we out hustle and outwork the youngsters.

Between games, the onlookers shuffle off the picnic table to shoot. The players call out, 'Hey dork, I thought that you said that you weren't going to play. You stink!' The shooter isn't athletic is show-boating while shooting. Clang! The rim vibrates after he shoots.

And in a flash of insight, I see what is happening. We earned the respect of these young men by playing hard, setting standards, and winning with dignity. They crave interaction with positive male role models. So the show boating boy is asking for his share.

The games end and the four of us walk to my car. The boys are enthralled by Troy's ability so they ask, 'How old are you?'

He laughs, '26.'

I put my two cents in and say, '37! And he's 70!!!'

Everyone laughs and we drive back to the campsite. The four of us are laughing and happy for the simple thrill of playing a fundamentally sound game and the delight of winning so unexpectedly.

'We walk up to them, and they're like to themselves, 'Yeah, lets just play them and get it over with. Whatever.''

'Did you hear what they were saying?'

'Are you guys in the NBA?'

Not by far.

But we all briefly restored our glory years and definitively answered the basketball question.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Simple Visual Tour

Today's entry is a simple visual tour of the beauty of New Hampshire.

Lady Slipper Mirror

Above Lower Purgatory Falls 1

Old Wilton Reservoir Water Falls 4

Old Wilton Reservoir Water Falls 1

Maple Leaves at Old Wilton Reservoir Water Falls 1

Friday, May 23, 2008

Boom! You ok?


The striker kicks the ball into my lunging left foot, I feel sudden, sharp pain in my leg, yet I turn to see the ball squirt safely past the endline.

I smile.

'You ok?' The striker asks, worried that his kick hurt me.

'Yeah. I'm fine. I just pulled my hamstring again.' As I jog away happy to have defended the goal.

As you might guess, soccer is one of my passions. In childhood, a neighbor said, 'Everyone can play soccer and it's inexpensive. All that you need is a ball and you can play in your band shoes.' (Whatever band shoes are.)

Speaking of wearing band shoes, this reminds me of last summer when I watched the locals play soccer in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, NY.

Look at these shoes...

A Shoe Share in a Futbol Game in Sunset Park 1

The boys apparently could not afford two sets of soccer shoes, so they shared. One spiked shoe to each boy.

A Futbol Game in Sunset Park 1

The thought still brings tears to my eyes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Practical Science: Fruit Tree Pollination

I am a clear amateur at numerous things, and fruit tree pollination is high on my list.

Apple Blossoms

My cousin planted a few apple trees over a decade before I bought the property and due to my interest in farming, I started researching information on growing fruit.

I am learning that there is a global crisis in the lack of bees and my uncle and I often talk about whether we've seen bees on our trees. We discuss type of bees, frequency, nests, and so on.

We'll even discuss the viability of keeping bees on our property. (This is quite low on the ambition list.)

The bee problem is simply that there are far less bees today than there were in years past. Scientists are studying the decline and trying to determine simple, clear reasons why.

From the little that I read, there are no conclusive answers yet.

During my research into fruit trees, I found a self-described short course on Effective Pollination, by Richard Norton with additions by David Green.

The information suits my learning style because of the practical, succinct, and thorough scope of the document.

The messages that I retained are:
Apple trees do not generally self-pollinate.
Crab apple trees are the best pollinators.
Touching crab apple blossoms to apple blossoms is only slightly effective.
An apple blossom is only ready for pollination for a short amount of time.

My uncle and I pored over the document and we devised a scheme where I cut down flowering branches from his large crab apple trees and plant them in buckets of water near my apple trees.

I did this last weekend next to my large apple tree.

Then I worry.

'Will the bees jump from the crab apple blossoms to the apple blossoms? Will the wind be too strong? Will the rain stop the bees? Is there anything more that I can do?'

I also encourage every crab apple tree to grow on my property. In fact, I learned on the same Website that if you grow a tree from a store bought apple, you get a crab apple tree.

I routinely toss apple cores out of my house that resulted in at least two crab apple trees near my driveway.

Last year from these accidentally grown trees, I picked some of the crab apples for jelly and I laughed.

The crab apples from these trees look like my favorite, but mini, Fuji apples!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Skid Row

My sister and brother-in-law leave my nieces at my house for the evening and I walk with them around my property.

I say, 'I made that birdhouse and some birds fight over it every day.'

I sense their eyes lighting up before they enthusiastically bubble, 'Could we make some more bird houses?'

'Sure, later.' I smile.

We walk through the rest of my yard, seeing my meager gardens, the brook, some Jack in the Pulpit flowers and I take them inside.

Peas A'Growing

Jack In the Pulpit

Sliding pencils and drawing paper on the table, I say, 'You guys draw pictures of what you want your birdhouses to be like and I'm going to work on the barbecue grill.'

Before our picnic, I get as far as cutting out the wood from some rough-cut pine.

Apple Blossoms

The New Ipswich Memorial Day parades are going on now, but I don't feel like going. So I cut some more flowering crab apple branches to place near my apple trees and I finish the bird houses.

Skid Row

I install the ramshackle row houses on the posts for my split rail fence before I return inside to sit on my recliner.

Something catches my eye.

Oh boy.

A little bird flies to the center of a fence rail. It sidles across, furtively. The bird darts to the fence post and then flies up to the base of the birdhouse!

Oh my.

Bird House Number 2

Then it flies to sit on the perch and peeks inside!

Another bird flies along and lands near the first.

The first bird goes inside the house!

I watch and the birds are simply the neighboring nesters who apparently were seeing if they should upgrade their position on skid row.

Eventually, the bird peeks into each birdhouse.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Release Relief

I clearly picture in my mind's eye how my nieces would respond if I said to them.

'I'm so glad this release is done!'

Little Finnish eyebrows furrow, 'Huh?'

As you may know, I work as a technical writer and I write books and information for computer users. But the users that I write for are not the average users. These users are the brains behind things like operating equipment that enables the Internet. And in my case, the information that I write helps them secure the Internet from viruses, intruders, and so on.

Today, I turned my books in for the upcoming release of a new product.

In early April, my manager says simply, 'You might want to adjust your work-flow so that there isn't a crisis at the release.'

So we do.

Waking at sunrise, working late, and the effort pays off for the most part and I can enjoy my lunch today and write a few words on my blog.

Yeah, imagine that. I write for a living, yet I write to unwind? *laughing*

We technical writers do not have by lines. (For anyone out there who was confused by the phrase 'by line' like I was for decades, it means a reference to the author like 'By Tim Somero'.) So we labor largely anonymous to the general public.

But even then, would you really understand (or care to read?) about the inner-workings of a computer?

I worked with a seasoned and accomplished technical writer at IBM and he told me a great technical writer's story.

Dennis says in his quiet, methodical voice, 'I went to my 40th high school reunion last weekend.'

I smile, 'Sounds like fun. How was it?'

He smiles and says, 'I had a great time. People asked me what I do for work. I lied. I told them that I am a science fiction writer. People said to me, 'Is that so? I never read any of your work.''

I grin seeing where he is going with this.

'So I said, 'Oh don't worry. No one else has either.''

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Ipswich Library: Ice Cream Social

'Who does this belong to?' Mikko showed the handle of his ice cream scoop to someone. The word 'Minun!' was there on masking tape wrapped tightly around the handle.


'You're right! What better than the Finnish word for 'mine' on my ice cream scoop?'

New Ipswich Library Open House

Mikko and I are Co-Presidents for the New Ipswich Library Trustees. The library hosted an Ice Cream Social last night and at one point, the library was elbow to elbow with men, women, and children.

In the children's section, youngsters were working on an art project. In the main area, adults were sitting or standing. And in the back, Mikko and I labored to scoop ice cream.

'Vanilla or strawberry?'

When my Finnish relatives walked in, Mikko and I reeled off some words like jäätelö (ice-cream) or the proper way to say hello and goodbye.

We started with 100 ice cream cups and 40 ice cream cones. We ended with less than a dozen empty cups and a dozen or so cones.

When we planned the event, our pessimistic prediction was 20, but we had more than 100 guests!

Thank you to everyone in the New Ipswich community for coming to the open house and we hope to see you return to use the library services.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Never Enough Attention for the First Fish

'Edwin.' I whispered, while I was a small child. 'Edwin. The bobber. It's jumping.'

'Not now!' He scowled. His attention consumed, focused into a ball of tangled fishing line and a problematic fishing reel.

'But there's a fish...' And there was! Despite the stress of repairing the faulty reel, I was proud to catch the fish. And even prouder when Edwin took my brother and I to the White Mountains and we caught trout.

Or when I caught a 28-inch Northern Pike in Wisconsin when I was casting idly from the dock.

Or when my cousin caught a 45+ inch Lake Trout on Lake Superior and we jumped like girls after hauling the monster into the boat.

But I caught my first fish in the swimming hole that I now own. Someone cut a sapling and tied a string and hook to it to use as a pole. The fish was a 3-inch long hornpout. My Dad helped me.

We brought the thing home and let it rest in the grass.

'Don't touch it!' I shied away after hearing Dad's warning. 'These things can sting.'

So we looked eyes-wide at the hornpout.

I take my local nieces fishing and in my opinion, there can never be enough attention given to a child who catches their first fish. Her big sisters before her, she was ready, trained, and educated by the older girls.

She was also bugging her mom, my sister, so I knew that it was time.

I ask into the handset, 'Are you free to go fishing?'

'Let me ask. Mom!? Am I free to go fishing?'

I talk to my sister and she agrees to drop her off at the Greenville Pond on their way back from shopping. I visit at my parent's house until I get the call, ready with tackle, poles, worms, and excitement.

The call arrives. I leave and get ready at the edge of the pond. My sister's family arrives in their mini-van.

My youngest niece smiles from the depths of the van. 'Hi.'

She walks out and hugs everyone in her family, jumping, and smiling from ear to ear. I give her some ground rules about only being able to cast twice (for my safety more than anything). I ask her to pick out a worm and my sister, smiling also from ear to ear takes some photos with my camera.

First Fishing Trip

After final, final hugs, my sister's family leaves my youngest niece and I at the fishing hole. Her bobber listing in the gentle breeze, bobbing on the incidental waves.

My line in the water: tap, tap. I set the hook. 'Ready for your first fish?'

She reels in a small perch, jumping! Her line continues to list in the pond.

I take my camera as she looks wide-eyed at the fish. Ask her to pose with the wriggling perch.



I take the hook from the perch and release it and we turn to her pole.

'Reel it in.' She starts working the reel and I guide the line away from the edge of the pond so it doesn't snag. The bobber travels towards the center of the pond. I smile.

'I think you got one.'

Her eyes widen. 'Really?'

'Yes.' I smile.

A little sunfish emerges from the water.

Her own fish!!!

A fisherman further down hears the whooping and hollering so he comes over to congratulate her. She's beaming from ear to ear. We talk and the fisherman says 'Great job!'

She takes the line and the sunfish is wriggling about. She poses for several photos.

Catching the First Fish

The fish swallowed the hook so I cut the line explaining to her, 'The water is going to make the fishhook disappear in a few days.' She blinks a little, but doesn't seem interested, different than her sisters who needed to know everything.

We watch the fish swim away.

I reflect for a moment when I fished with my uncle, captivated by mechanical things, a forgotten line catching a sunfish like my niece did today.

After we finish, we meet her family at my parent's house. She finds mom and shyly buries her face into her mother's tummy. Unable to tell the story. So I captivate a houseful of people with the story of the first fish.

There is never enough attention given when a child catches a first fish.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hot Property: Bird Fights and Bumblebees

I listed a property the other day.

I razed a wreck full of miscreant thugs and I put the ugliest looking house in its place overlooking my property. I waited for the right moment when the thugs were sleeping or dazed, and I wrenched their dwelling down and replace it with a homemade ramshackle birdhouse.

Edwin said weeks ago after I built the birdhouse, 'It's a little late for birds to use it. Really should go up in March.'

The Ugliest Birdhouse in the World

Learning that, I didn't secure the house to the post. I just balanced it on top.

This morning shortly after sunrise, movement catches my eye. A bird? I turn to see a small bird moving from the house to the forsythia bushes. Back and forth.


I watch enthralled. I made a perch from a maple stick. The bird uses it. I drilled a hole for the entrance. The bird passes through in and out. I made a ventilation opening at the top, the bird uses that, too.


A breeze kicks up. The birdhouse sways.


I should have secured it.

The bird flies inside the house. It wobbles. The bird emerges and preens on the roof, chirping. It is though he announces to the world: 'This is my property. Mine! You got it all you dumb birds, bees, ants, and whatever else might get some ill-fated ideas about moving in. M, I, N, E; mine!'

He flies off, the birdhouse wobbles. It could fall over!

Double nuts!

The bird flies back and forth carrying a new stick or twig with each pass.

Later around mid-day, I see other birds, bigger birds patrolling around my newly listed property. The little bird repeats his vocal performance but immediately flies off as the blue-backed birds swoop in.

Ah, I know what this is! It's an inspection! The blue-backed bird sit on the perch and peers in through the hole.

'Nuts.' I think to myself. 'I have to do something about the wobble.'

My attention changes to other tasks around the house.

If I were feeling better, I would be building a brooder for chicks, but instead I use hammer and chisel to remove a concrete block thing that my cousin built years before. The chisel isn't working. I need more.

I go inside the house to get the solid-metal, triangular splitting maul.


The cement block cracks in its mortar.


I see something and think of a soccer statement of all things, 'Bumblebees can't fly. They can't fly! But look at that slow kid moving his way through everyone again and again, scoring, scoring! Bumblebees can't fly!'

My knowlege of things apiary must lack, cause I swear that there's a bumblebee flying angry around me.

I ignore it.


The heavy bee flies by again.


My eyes narrow in a battle of wills with this winged patroller. 'Fine.' I think. 'Have what you want.'

The bumblebee calms down and hovers where I stood and finally lands, nestling in the grass.

Nuts! I stood on the entrance to its hive!

This isn't going well, so I stand up on the concrete blocks and resume my ruination.


The bee hovers angry.

Crack! A block falls to the ground. Thump.

The bee lunges at me so I retreat over the rubble.

'Fine.' I think. 'I'll do something else.'

I walk to the shed to get the longest nails I can find and walk to the new birdhouse. I see a yellow and black striped wasp on the birdhouse roof. I knock it off with the hammer.

'Dang.' I think to myself. 'These are the wasps that took over the last birdhouse here. Who wins?' I wonder. 'The birds or the wasps?'

I hammer two long nails through the platform into the post.

'That should do it.'

I try not to touch the platform, but I test it.

It feels secure.

Eventually I work on my garden, planting and watering it. I shut the water off next to a blueberry bush in bloom and his brother, another stinking bumblebee buzzes me!

'Ok, ok. This is enough.' I retreat quickly running a little towards my uncle's house to talk with him in the garden.

I approach already forgotten the bees at my house, 'Guess what is sprouting in my lower garden?'

He shrugs.

'Beans. You keep telling me that the soil is too cold, but I surely have beans sprouting down there.'

We talk.

Eventually I hear an angry argument over my new property. The little bird again stakes his claim. Blue-back birds fly around. Back and forth.

I tell the birdhouse story to my uncle and I ask, 'Who wins between the wasps and the birds?'

'I don't know how they figure that out.' He shrugs.

He continues to tell me that the male house wren will make a variety of nests for the female to choose one. And that he doesn't see bluebirds in his birdhouses, but my cousin who preceded me here did.

Russian to Soccer

'Change of plans.' My co-worker says to me, 'The Russian brothers are going. We're riding with them and they parked in the front.'

I bound up the stairs with my bag, my spikes, and my sport goggles and I follow my British co-worker. I often tease him by using the British terms and ask, 'Would you like to play some football on the pitch?'

We walk towards the front parking lot, join one of the Russian brothers, and wander to locate his mini-van. We approach and he uses the ear-bud for his phone and starts talking in Russian.

I pile into the front seat and the Brit somehow gets the keys, 'I'm driving.'

Side door open, we circle the parking lot to find the lost brother. The Russian stands in the open doorway while we drive, looking. Laughing, we pass the receptionist and a secretary out for a walk. Everyone laughs at the sight of our slow circle, one guy standing in the open doorway.

Finally, we find him. He jumps in, 'Let's go!'

We arrive at the game, and people reacquaint themselves and someone briefly introduces me. Game on!

I worry about my hamstrings and a third of the way through, my left hamstring tightens, but I play on. A right wing crosses the ball in front of the net. I put my foot on the ball, GOALLL!!!!

Later someone says, 'Three goals to win!' So we play, tired now, until someone mercifully passes the ball through the goal to end the match.

We shake hands and walk towards the van.

One of the Russian brothers drives now, I sit in the front. He opens the windows driving swiftly, pushing buttons on his GPS map in the console. Traffic signs are suggestions and I smile to myself because I know other Russians who drive like this.

We take a circumspect way to the office and I wonder if I should suggest a shorter route. I stay quiet. Finally, we turn onto a familiar road and there's a slow car in front of us, inching along.

Now it's time to obey trafic laws and we laugh and giggle as the car takes several seconds to slowly turn right into a driveway.

I think about work. Idly wondering what I have to jump into when I return to the office.

Right blinker.

I wonder, 'Huh? Now where? The Russian's house?'

The road ends at a lake. Two mothers and their kids are playing on the beach. He parks. I look and the Russians and my British co-worker are taking their shirts off and digging out towels.

I laugh to myself and take off my sweaty t-shirt, and hobble down to the beach. I ask, 'Swimming?'

The Russian's bright eyes smile, 'Yes. Of course.'

The Russians dive right in, I wade in and plunge into the brisk water. We turn and see the Brit toeing the water. Finally he joins us as we walk out, dripping.

The mothers and children are no where to be found.

I dry off, planning to sit on my towel in the van. I look into the back and one of the Russians is changing! I blink. I look at the Brit and the other Russian and they have towels wrapped tight around their waist, changing.

Thinking to myself, 'Hmm...well...' so I wrap my towel, also and strip and put on dry clothes.

Everyone ready, the other Russian hops in the driver's seat. I blink. Odd.

We ask aloud, 'Where did the kids go?'

'We scared them!' We all laugh imagining them running away from us.

The Brit explains, 'We often swim after soccer, but later in the season the beaches are pay to swim. But this one is best because they can park and sneak into the water.' I laugh.

While riding along, the Brit asks, 'I wonder how many meetings I missed?'

I reply, 'I missed one, but they know that I did.'

The Russian driver says as we approach the office, 'There will be more meetings. Meetings today. Meetings tomorrow.'

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Pizza Bait

I write into an IM window, 'Do you have time to get a slice of pizza after work?'

My co-worker says that she does, so after wrapping things up, we go and order a large, extra-cheese, mushroom, and onion pizza.

Unfortunately, it isn't a great pizza.

So I take three slices home debating if I should reheat them or just feed the pizza to the chickens.

I park my car at home and carry the pizza down to the coop when I collect the eggs. I open the door and heave the slices in for them.

Overnight, it rains so I walk out the door and decide not to water the chickens today. By habit, I look down to the pen from my driveway.


I see something staring at me from the live trap.



I walk down to acquaint myself with the critter who shies away from me, trapped.

I close my eyes and debate. Coonskin cap? Nah, but it is interesting. First the opossum, now a raccoon.

I open my eyes and look in the chicken pen, by now the chickens are walking about as they scratch the ground.

Oh man! A slice of pizza is at the edge of the chicken pen near the live trap.

Pizza bait!

I scare the coon to the far end of the trap, but he sits on the release lever. I open the door and prop it open with a long stick.

I sigh. I can't be late for work. I hope the coon doesn't return. I wonder, 'Do they learn their lesson?'

After starting my car, I look to see what the coon does and he's scurrying away from the shed and his furry belly sways as he runs down the stone wall to freedom.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Stretching the Dollah

New Ipswich produced some famous people from President Franklin Pierce's wife to a surgeon, known in New Ipswich as Doc Shaw, who was one of the first doctors to reattach a severed arm.

I talked with his son many years ago and his statement of New Hampshire is telling.

'We know how to stretch the dollah.'

And we do.

But with gas prices rising and the global economic outlook becoming more and more bleak, we're tightening more than ever.

Last summer I was laid off from a tech writing job and my buying habits quickly transitioned to buying food and gas, food, gas, gas, food, and then more gasoline.

I heard a radio report that Starbucks is losing revenue. That isn't surprising, is it? Where a bag of coffee beans covers the cost of two frilly coffees?

My friend, Derek Burnett, posted several entries to his blog regarding the ill effect of capitalism and a projection into the tough times ahead.

Here's a link to his post Economy: Great Depression, the Sequel to give you some food for thought.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Free Pass

'I'll be at work at 7:00 to start on the release notes.'

Now I think, 'Why did I stay that?'

This morning, I am full of regret. It is 7:09 AM. I'm at home. Grr. Why do I say things like that? I have to go. Have to get the work done. Manufacturing line stopped. Need to go.

I open the door, check for my keys, and lock it behind me. I decide to not put water out for the chickens, but I look down towards the coop anyway.

A little furry guy looks back at me. Trapped!

I curse.

What is it?

So I walk down towards the coop and I live-trapped some critter last night. He has bushy, off-white fur. He seems blinded in the daylight, but his nose is active. I approach the live-trap. He's not upset.

I think so myself, 'What is it? A rat?'

Internally, I feel the clock ticking. I feel pressure to get to work.

Watching the critter, I move closer. My chickens are excited as they walk around the pen. The thing could be a rat, but I'm unsure. It looks like a rat tail, sort of damaged by time.

I don't have time to research what it is. I don't have time to shoot the thing, nor decide if I want to shoot it or not.

Slowly I move towards the cage, releasing the door, lifting it.

The critter isn't sure what's happening.

I set the trap again, door wide open and I walk towards the car.

The critter doesn't move.

He sniffs the air, stationary. I leave him inches away from his free pass.


When I got home, the animal was gone. I talked to my uncle about it, but we couldn't figure out what it was. We're thinking that it could be a possum, but that doesn't make sense.

Anyway, it's free. And I think that I need new topics to write about because I'm afraid that your patience may be wearing thin with all this bang-em-up shooting talk.

**final update**

I googled 'possum' and I learned that I trapped an opossum.

I had no clue that they lived around my house.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Fallout from Defending My Lettuce

Buddy wrote, 'I don't like the woodchuck story.'

I winced. Yeah. I didn't think that everyone would appreciate how I defended my lettuce.

After talking with my uncle that day who said, 'You should have shot two!' I went further retelling my story in person, and after my octogenarian aunts listened to my story, they cheered.

'Good job Timmy!' I struggled, is it worse to be called Timmy or that these old ladies celebrated my permanent defense?

I also heard all sorts of stories about really old people who sat watching their gardens with a .22 rifle in hand. A cousin's husband proudly said, 'My great-great grandfather shot and killed his last woodchuck when he was 94 just a few weeks before he died.'

I get the impression that old people think of shooting woodchucks as an Olympic sport?

It gets worse.

My friend listened to my inner conflict and he laughed.

'My wife has an aunt who lived to be 98 years old. She lovingly tended a garden year after year.'

'When she was 95 kneeling down in her beloved garden to pull weeds, a raccoon approached and gave her a hard time.'

'She quietly stood up, grabbed a shovel, and cracked the raccoon over the head.'


'She dug a hole, buried the varmint and finished weeding her garden.'

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What's Your Favorite Color?

During church, my youngest niece walks up to me.

'What's your favorite color?'

I whisper, 'Blue.'

She walks away. Moments later, she's back.

'What's your second favorite color?'


She walks away, returning later.

'What's your third favorite color?'


Seeing the pattern as she walks away, I decide - yellow, white, purple, and then orange if I need it.

'What's your fourth favorite color?'


Later she returns, 'What's your...' She pauses, thinking, 'What's your...what's your five favorite color?'


Again, she goes away and returns shortly, 'What's your sixth favorite color?'


Moments later she returns with this colored picture for me.

Whats Your Favorite Color

Saturday, May 3, 2008

It's 4:47 AM and All Is Well


It's quiet.

It's also 4:47 AM.

I'm awake.


Because the dew-point is near the temperature.

Because someone from the New Hampshire Flickr group is meeting me at Dunklee Pond in an hour.

Because we're nuts!

I am fascinated currently with taking photographs of fog and there is no better time to do this than at the crack of dawn, in a nature preserve, with one or more like-minded photographers.


Last weekend, we scared a deer there. With a little better preparation, I could have taken a photo of it.

Wish me luck.


LTD Crashes into Dunklee Pond Woods 2

Mike and I met and we took photos for a couple of hours. The overcast skies didn't reveal many striking opportunity, but I did a focusing trick to create this weird image of a rusted-out LTD next to Dunklee Pond.

We also saw a couple of herons, the backbone of what appeared to be a deer, ducks, but no beaver or deer this time.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Natural Cycles

Last night, I asked our local librarian, 'How are you?'

She replied candidly, 'Tired. You?'


A third person joined us for the meeting. We asked her, 'And how are you?'


The spring is a wonderful time of the year for rebirth and the intensity as our natural world regenerates itself. But the jagged weather cycles always seem to drag me down. I go from wearing shorts for three days in California-like sunshine. And then waking up to a cold, frosty morning before steady rain moves in for a few days.

Yet we persist.

Our library meeting was to explore a co-operative arrangement with various local libraries for an automated library management system (LMS). Several other towns have more money to spend (apparently), but New Ipswich and several surrounding towns operate on what I call the 'zero dollar budget'. So we're forming our own club open to all, but with our full understanding that everyone doesn't need to follow the hardscrabble approach.

For example, even though our library has an annual computer budget of $500.00, we try not to spend the money because it's better if we don't.

So our new co-operative is trying to pool our resources, separate needs from wants, and present a clear case to our respective communities that we will get much more for our dollar if we go together.

The case, I hope, will be as simple as paying a fraction (say 1/5th) of the cost for a suitable, bare-necessity system that we all share. If we go alone, we bear the full cost of the same bare-necessity system.

Our meeting succeeded, I believe, because we all clearly see the concept of needs versus wants in our zero-dollar budget situations. So at our next meeting, we'll organize our respective needs versus wants lists before we solicit money for the LMS.

And given the foreboding economy and the welcome American return towards being frugal, I suspect that our local libraries will rise again as we spend less money to buy our own books.