01/01/18: Happy New Year 2018!
Sue was up earlier Monday morning New Year's Day than I was. I rolled out around 9:00 am, but felt pretty good. I hadn't eaten or drank too much, so it was more just being tired from a couple of busy holiday weeks. It still wasn't until after I had a cup of coffee and Sue's sausage and eggs, though, that I felt normal....
Sue caught this terrific shot of a snow capped Mt. Washington as we crested the ridge on our way out to walk Beau
I got a fire going in the wood stove, and then caught a half hour or so of the Rose Parade on tv before Sue, Beau, and I headed out for a picture taking quest, and hike in the woods.
After getting home, I got the wood stove going again, and then watched a little of the Rose Bowl. But I had little time to relax! I was cooking my mother's recipe for ox tails in a rich blend of tarragon, rosemary, onions, and almost a bottle of red Zinfandel.
We wound the evening down with the well done 2017 movie, The Glass Castle. But when it was finished, Sue was beat and so went up to bed, while I continued on for an hour or so with an episode of a series I had recorded.
01/04/18: Slammed by Winter Storm Grayson
After Sue got back from walking Beau Thursday morning, we were 3 hours raking the roof, snow blowing, and shoveling about a foot of snow after Winter Storm Grayson pummeled the entire east coast.
Beau exploring an ice cavern of bent branches on the trail up to Pine Mountain.
And then Friday morning after the storm had passed, we did another two and a half hours of snow removal! My snow blower's auger control was frozen so I couldn't use it. It was a bitch hand shoveling out the 2.5 feet of thick snow piled up by the town plow at the end of the driveway.
01/10/18: Movie Night Out
Sue and I headed off Wednesday evening 01/10/18 to BarnZ's Cinema in Barrington, NH for the 6:45pm showing of the new movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Not only couldn't we resist going out to see this, but we had to anesthetize ourselves with too much butter popcorn. And the movie itself? Well, lots of action, and a better plot than most of these later ones have had, so we enjoyed it.
01/11/18: Lunch Explore
After finishing up with our eye check up appointments in Dover late Thursday morning 01/11/18, Sue and I stopped on the way home in Somersworth for lunch at the new Indonesian restaurant, Bali State House. Man, was that some nice food, though a little on the spicy side. And even if you ask for mild, as Sue did with her rice plate, it's still pretty sharp.
My chicken with kale had the greatest flavors, but again, when my lips burn then it's just a little too much for me. But the owner (I believe he was the owner) who took our order did tell me that I should get rice with it. I'm glad he did, because that knocked some of the heat down.
He came by the table later to ask how I liked it, chuckled, and basically said something to the effect of, "...and I bet you're glad I told you to get rice with it!" We had quite a laugh over that! We have to go back and try some of the other things on the menu. Terrific reviews on Yelp as well.
01/12/18: Photography Quest In The Fog
A dense fog had settled over the mountain when we got up Friday morning 01/12/18, and Sue was keen on taking a drive to see if there were any shots of interest.
Even heading out late morning, it hung so think in the air that not only was it difficult to see, but I had to hit the wipers every now and then. And there were times when it just flat rained!
We started out on Ten Rod Road into the Rochester area, and then winding our way over some really obscure back roads into Milton. The fog was so thick that we got screwed up on our directions and had to back track a couple of times. Unfortunately, it was so thick that Sue's camera couldn't focus on anything; most of the pictures were just blurred by the light reflected back through the lens off of the fog.
This is one of the cleanest of the pictures that Sue was able to get because of the denseness of the fog on our Photography Quest In The Fog 01/12/18, and it was in our own backyard!
I fixed what I termed: Ice Melting Spaghetti Bolognese to push back the frigid temperatures that we had been having for the previous weeks, and Sue made up a bunch of Frosted Velvet Cake Balls as a special desert for us.
We closed the evening with the movie of the night: the 1972 Robert Redford classic, 'Jeremiah Johnson'. We were quick to bed after that as we had to get up Sunday morning at 4:30am to take Sue's daughter to the airport.
01/14/18: Airport Run To Boston Logan
Sue and I were up at 4:30am Sunday morning 01/14/18 as we had to pick up Sue's daughter Jill in Manchester, NH and then take her to Boston, MA to catch an international flight out that morning.
What a great trip Jill was going to have! She'd be gone almost 3 weeks to Australia and then New Zealand with two friends of hers. And for all that time, all she had was 2 bags and a carry-on. Amazing!
From our house to meet up with her in Manchester was about an hour (with no work traffic!), and then another hour down to the airport (again, with no work traffic). After dropping her off at the terminal, we headed back home via I95, though we stopped in Revere, MA at an IHOP for some emergency coffee, and breakfast.
When we got home, I made a fire in the wood stove as it was only about 15 degrees F, but really chilly because of the wind and all the moisture in the air. We're so fortunate that we didn't have to do this in that dense fog Friday! That would have been just an awful trip.
01/17/18: Lecture in Laconia
Sue and I were glad the town crews had been able to clear the roads from the recent storm so that we could drive over to Laconia without a white-knuckle death grip on the steering wheel.
We went to see Master Stone Mason and author Kevin Gardner present the lecture Discovering New England Stone Walls at the Taylor Community Woodside Building. What a terrific talk he gave; really informative not only about stone walls and their construction, but the whole history of how stone walls are woven into the fabric of New England - all 250,000 miles of them!
Our friend Nancy Ramsdell met us there, and we had a nice chat with her after the lecture. Because the snow was coming down very lightly, Sue and I decided to stop off at Patrick's Pub in Gilford.
We originally were just going to have a glass of wine, but got very hungry as soon as we sat down. Because I decided on having one of their fantastic burgers, I went for a Guinness. But Sue stayed with her initial desire for a glass of wine, and had their really tasty Stuffed Mushrooms.
By the time we headed for home, the temperature had stayed fairly mild, and most of the snow on the roads had turned to slush. We still took it easy as there were still many spots that had tightly packed snow. The 2 miles up our mountain road, however, was still covered in snow, and pretty slippery.
01/22/18: Sue Holds Kids Photography Workshop
Sue held her first after school kids photography workshop Monday afternoon 01/22/18 at the New Durham Public Library.
Library Director Cathy Allyn wrote this terrific article for the class that appeared in the local paper.
The class will meet for 4 Monday's after school, and she'll cover some of the key aspects of how to properly compose both landscapes and portraits for the kids.
She said she had a great time, and hopes the kids are looking forward to the next class as much as she is!
01/23/18: Major Sleet and Ice Storm
Living on a mountain in New England is wonderful except when it storms - and then it's more than you really need: Sue and I had to dodge low hanging iced branches across the roads up here as we ventured out the other day for an appointment "down" in Dover. Stay in the flat lands if that seems more like a challenge than an adventure.
Sue just couldn't resist, and was out really early that morning taking pictures!
I took this shot of the back yard later in the day. I thought the contrast of the green in the foreground, leading to the same type of tree covered in ice, to the different trees at the top of the hill behind the screen house was really neat.
01/23/18: Mia's Disney Trip
Gary and Marissa headed off on Mia's Disney Trip a few days ago, leaving us all here to face the huge ice storm while they strolled around in their swimsuits!
Everyone on the dock by the Disney Dream
01/26/18: Friday Night Dinner Party
Our friend Gail came over Friday morning, and she and Sue headed off with Beau for a walk in the woods. They didn't stay out long, though, as it was really cold, and it was slippery going with the hard ice crust that remained from the recent storms.
They dropped Beau off and headed out to do some shopping. He and I kept the wood stove going and enjoyed the day.
When Sue and Gail got back, we popped open the bottle of Pinot Noir that Gail had brought, and chatted for awhile until I had to get going with the meal prep.
I fixed a version of Chicken Piccata that I modified from a 'real recipe', but it came out just super. After dinner, we watched the 2017 movie, Battle of the Sexes, about the 1973 Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs tennis match. A well done movie with a lot of background none of us knew or remembered.
01/27/18: Third Annual Full Moon Snowshoeing Adventure
Sue and I started our Third Annual Full Moon Snowshoeing Adventure meeting everyone at Newick's Seafood Restaurant in Newington, NH. Though a hike for us now that we live in New Durham, most of the folks who initially expressed an interest in joining us live around there.
Though there were 8 of us for dinner, several others had to drop out because of having various colds and flu, which are just awful this year. It was an interesting group as far as where folks lived, in a line from Portsmouth, all the way up Route 16 to New Durham: Tim from Portsmouth, Mike from Dover, Colin and Ren from Somersworth, Carl and Patti from Rochester, and us from New Durham.
We knew we wouldn't be going snowshoeing this year because the snow, where it wasn't bare ground, was mostly a frozen crust still remaining from the previous ice storm. Regardless, Sue and I were determined to as least do something outside, though only Carl and Patti chose to join us.
So, after finishing up with dinner at Newick's, we drove over to Durham, NH to Kingman Farm. When Sue and I lived in Dover, Kingman Farm was one of our favorite places to get out and walk in the woods. It's also been where we've had the other snowshoeing adventures, so we had to go there this year regardless of if we were snowshoeing or not!
The parking area was solid ice, so we carefully shuffled over to the narrow access road leading to the trail system. It was pretty dark because of the clouds, so not only weren't we going to be snowshoeing, but there was little moonlight either! I managed to get just one picture of the moon trying to push through....
There really is a moon trying to get out from behind all the clouds in this picture!
The ground was so uneven, and a mix of wet leaves, ice, gravel, snow, and mud from the recent temps in the 40s that the going on the trail was pretty tough. I managed to slip and take a fall not paying attention to the ground as I was gaping around through the trees. I called it a 'sympathy fall for Carl' because he had fallen earlier in the day at his house.
And then Sue takes us off into the big field, a mix of wet snow and large patches of icy cold squishy mud. Yeah, that was real snowshoeing: more like mud walking....
Carl and Patti invited us up to their house for a beer to celebrate a successful adventure. That was nice warming up around their wood stove, and chatting away into the late evening.
But we had to get home and take care of Beau, so we bid our thanks to Carl and Patti and headed for home around 11pm. And yes, it was a successful Full Moon Snowshoeing Adventure even though there wasn't any snow to snowshoe on, or full moon just yet, or even able to see the almost full moon. It was just fun!
01/28/18: Slow Dinner and Wonderful Movie Night
Sue and I spent a relaxing Sunday after doing a dump run and shopping for dinner. What a combo! After dinner, we watched the totally engaging movie, Goodbye Christopher Robin.
Just as dusk was settling over the mountain, Sue took this picture of a hungry visitor!
01/30/18: Family Birthday Party Lunch
Around noon Tuesday 01/30/18, Sue's brother Alan drove her Uncle Ronald over to have lunch with us. It's been so long since Sue and Ronald have been together that they just chatted for hours.
Sue's Uncle Ronald visits for lunch
It was a particularly special lunch because Sue made a special batch of bread pudding to celebrate Ronald's 84th Birthday. We sat at the table for a long time, exchanging stories and reminiscing over Ronald's experiences and life.
In fact, they chatted for so long that Alan took off for about an hour to check out a truck for sale not far from the house.
It was a great day sitting around the wood stove and hearing Ronald talk about the old family.
01/31/18: Super Blue Blood Moon and Snowy Owl Photography Hunt
Sue was out at dawn 01/31/18 to catch the setting of the recent Super Blue Blood Moon.
Super Blue Blood Moon
Then, around 9:30am, Sue's cousin Debi drove down from Tuftonboro, NH, and the two of them headed off to Plumb Island, MA to go on a Snowy Owl Photography Hunt.
It was a bitterly cold day, with sharp winds that drove the temperatures into the below zero range. But, they both bundled up, and bravely headed out on their adventure about 10:00am. They didn't get back until almost 5:00pm.
And then, around noon, Sue's brother Alan and his wife Joann rolled up to show us the truck he had bought the day before when he and Ronald were over for lunch. It's a thing of beauty for sure!
Sue's brother Alan's new truck.
02/01/18: Snowshoeing After The Storms
Sue and I decided to head out with Beau Thursday morning to go snowshoeing.
We almost didn't go because of the recent snow and then ice storms. But, with a few inches of new snow down, Sue thought one of the places that she takes Beau for walks would be fine.
It was a spectacular hike through the woods. All of the trees were coated with snow and were just picture perfect.
Though Sue did slip on the ice and take a tumble into a snow bank, the three of us had a really nice time. In fact, Sue had such a good time that she went out later that afternoon with her camera to get some spectacular winter pictures.
February winter storm.
02/14/18: Valentines Day Dinner
Sue delegated me a few weeks back to do a desert for a Valentines Day dinner that she was fixing. Well, it took me awhile to choose something because I've never done a 'real' desert before.
I didn't know what Sue was planning, but I knew I'd have to make something a lot more complex than strawberries, whipped cream, and brown sugar - although that was the spectacular desert that was served for years at Portsmouth's famous Blue Strawberry Restaurant.
After pouring over countless recipes on-line, I finally selected one that I thought would really push me into an area I had no experience in: making a pastry base from scratch with whipped cream and cheese with a thin white chocolate topping, called by the more fancy name of Eclair Cake with White Chocolate Ganache.
While Sue was out teaching a kids photography appreciation workshop at the library Monday afternoon, I flew into cooking gear, had this thing whipped out in 2 hours, and then hidden away in the refrigerator downstairs.
Wednesday I was banned from the kitchen as Sue prepared her presentation, Chicken Vindaloo, a wonderful Indian curry dish with turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, cumin, paprika, and cayenne. What a great dish that was! And, you know, my desert came out pretty good as well!
A rather poor Valentines Day selfie, but you get the idea: we had a great time!
02/16/18: Photography Side Track To Great Bay Marine
So, Sue and I are driving down the highway to get into Portsmouth and run some errands. As we're crossing the General Sullivan Bridge over the Piscataqua River, Sue decides it would be a wonderful photo opportunity to drive out to Great Bay Marine in Newington.
Of course, the exit is right at the bottom of the bridge, so a marginal 2 wheel swoop off the exit was called for. But it was worth the detour. We had just had some snow storms, and it was just beautiful out there with a heavy fog just beginning to lift.
02/17/18: New Durham Town Seniors Lunch
New Durham hosts periodic town lunches for seniors at the community center. Sue and I enjoy going to these as we always get to meet such nice and interesting folks. And this time was no exception; wonderful time.
02/18/18: Sunday Dinner: Korean Dak Galbi
Sue and I have enjoyed watching the Winter Olympics that are being held in South Korea. Somewhere along the line, I heard about this very special meal specific to Korea called Dak Galbi. Inspired, I thought what a great meal to prepare in celebration of the Olympics and the Korean people.
Dak Galbi is a wonderful, complex, spiced dish of chicken marinated in a mix of chili paste, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and curry powder. It's all then cooked in a big pot with sweet potato slices, carrots, and cabbage with fresh cilantro.
Though obviously best prepared with Korea chilies and curry powder, and some other spices I never heard of, I think I did just fine with the ingredients that we did have. It came out soooo good; have to do that one again for sure!
Dak Galbi Korean Spicy Chicken Stir Fry
Though the picture above is from the on-line recipe, my dish came out pretty close to what this looks like! Again, just a super meal!
02/22/18: Karate Meditation Seminar
Thursday night 02/22/18 I held a special karate seminar on the process of basic relaxation meditation. This was primarily for our 2 new 3rd Degree Brown Belts from the Rose School of Karate, Steve Shackford of Dover and Tom Toye of Durham.
Steve and Tom took their Brown Belt exams 11/30/17 in a joint exam with 3 students from Master Russell Jones club in Laconia, NH. Once the student reaches this 3rd Degree Brown Belt level, they are introduced to basic meditation as the starting training into some of the philosophical areas of martial arts.
Though, of course, continuing with their physical training, this move into the art of karate as opposed to just the physical aspects is a huge step for the student. It's always a joy for me to then introduce the new brown belts to this new training.
The seminar is also open to those who have already taken this training for either a general review, or for those at 2nd Degree Black Belt and above who need to take this course again as a prerequisite for taking the Basic Relaxation Meditation Instructors Certification training course.
02/24/18: Birthday Dinner For Nora
Sue and I invited our friend Nora to dinner Saturday evening 02/24/18. Nora not only was my neighbor when I lived in Dover, but I also met Sue through her.
I met Sue 03/21/10 when Nora and Sue came to the door. I was having one of my Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One events, cooking up a storm, sipping a nice bottle of Spanish Rioja, and listening to Beethoven's Andante favori in F major when "...suddenly there came a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. 'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, 'tapping at my chamber door— Only this and nothing more." — to quoth The Raven. Regardless, the rest is history, as they say! But what a meeting!
Though it was a beautiful day, a big storm was expected to hit Sunday. I guess the animals sensed this as Sue got a terrific shot of a deer forging for food in the backyard mid afternoon as I was just starting my meal prep work.
Nora arrived around 5:00pm with a bottle of Josh Pinot Noir in tow, which we had with dinner. We had a nice chat before I skipped into the kitchen to start cooking around 6:00. Fortunately, I had done all of the prep work earlier before Nora had arrived. I fixed Pork Chops With Apple and Arugula as the main course, and then did my best pasta Alfredo with fresh parsley yet as a side dish.
Nora and Sue toasting to her birthday.
After dinner, Sue brought out desert. She had made 'Sweet Lemon Ricotta with Mixed Berries and Biscotti', a recipe we had learned to make 01/22/16 at an 'Italian Dinner Cooking Class' at The Culinary Playground in Derry, NH. It was just a super finish to our gathering for our friend.
Because weather predictions were for a strong snow storm to hit later that evening or early Sunday morning, Nora wanted to head for home before there was any chance of that happening. Since it was fairly early, we put on the 2017 action movie American Assassin that was really well done. It's sort of a violent and energy charged movie and we didn't want to go to bed on that, so we stayed up - probably way too late - and watched an episode of HGTV House Hunters International that was fun as the person was looking in Melbourne, Australia.
02/25/18: Sunday Morning Blizzard
Sue was up long before me. I guess Beau had heard her stir around 6:30am, and he just figured it was time for someone to let him out to do his business. I never made it up until 8:00am.
The snow had just started to come down really heavily as I wandered down the stairs. Sue had already gotten the wood stove going; quite a contrast to the storm blowing around outside.
Heavy snow on the mountain
Sue was in the kitchen making up a special breakfast recipe she had found in the March 2018 'Northern New England Journey': Shirred Eggs, as prepared by Annie Mahle, co-captain and chef of the historic 1927 Maine windjammer J.&E. Riggin, which sails out of Rockland Maine and offers charters throughout Penobscot Bay.
After breakfast, she got to work on preparing a chicken sausage, cannelloni bean, wild rice, and kale soup as it had to simmer for a couple of hours. She was making that for dinner tonight, but there's enough in that pot for quite a few meals. Looking forward to that as it smells sooooo good!
Beau wanted to get out and play in the snow - or was that Sue wanted to get out into the snow and play? - and so she put her snowshoes on and took him out through the woods behind our house. I stayed home, kept the wood stove going, and catching up with this site!
02/26/18: Sue Wraps Up Kids Photography Class
Sue spent the last couple of days going over the pictures the kids took in the photography class she led at the library. The kids did such an amazing job; she was so proud of them.
Selected pictures from Sue's class
02/28/18: Dinner Night Out
We thought we'd celebrate Sue's first Social Security check by going out to dinner at the Ellacoya Barn & Grille in Gilford. What a beautiful old restored barn. And the food was really good, though wine prices are too steep.
03/04/18: Sunday Breakfast in Pittsfield, NH
Sue and I had wanted to see the maple sugaring process at Journeys End Maple Farm in Pittsfield, NH. We had thought that they'd be in full swing, but that doesn't really happen until the end of March.
We had a nice chat with one of the owners, Anne Boisvert, who took the time to graciously show us around their shop. Knowing they were pretty busy, we thanked her for her time and then drove over to Jitters Cafe of Pittsfield to get a late breakfast.
It was our first time at Jitters, and understand they changed ownership back in 2017. Sue and opted for the buffet as it was only around $10.00 for a pretty decent selection. We tried everything, and it was okay. Sorry, but just okay. And most disappointing was the coffee.... Man, you call your place 'jitters', and the coffee is thin? I'd like to try it again because so many of the Yelp! reviews were really good. So, we'll see....
03/06/18: Busy Pre-Storm Day
Weather reports were for a brutal snow storm to hit the area starting tomorrow, Wednesday. Fortunately, my karate disciple 2nd Degree Black Belt Eleanne Solorzano, had scheduled a morning meeting with me to go over some of her current reading assignments; coming up to New Durham from Exeter in a blizzard just wouldn't have happened.
And then, we had to take Beau over to the vet in Alton for some annual vaccinations. It was 3:00pm when we got out of the vets, and the air had chilled, and the sky was clouding over.
Before we left for the vets, Sue had seen this little rabbit in the bushes behind the barn. We think he was burrowing in for the storm.
Rabbit trying to find shelter from the upcoming storm.
03/08/18: And the storm hits....
It had started to snow a little bit Tuesday night 03/06/18, and quite a lot more starting in the late afternoon on Wednesday 03/07/18.
After over 2 hours of snow blowing, not only were the tires skidding on the now frosted layer next to the asphalt, but the snow was so heavy that the blower blades got packed and the chute kept getting plugged. I gave up and shoveled as much as I could before I gave out. I looked at Sue, and she was as soaked and tired as I was. That was it. We threw a flag on the field and headed inside.
Sue got this beautiful picture of the backyard that night.
Night picture of the backyard after the storm.
03/10/18: Jill Comes For a Short Visit.
Jill came up from R.I. for a short visit. She was originally going to stay for dinner, but had to change her plans to lunch.
Sue had a Vegetable and Coconut Rice Stir Fry on the brain for dinner, and wanted me to do that anyway for lunch. So, while Sue took Beau for a short hike in the woods (short because there was a foot of wet snow to trudge through), I drove over to the store to food shop.
When I got back, Sue and I did all of the prep work so that we could spend all of our time visiting with Jill. It took awhile because not only did the rice have to be pre-cooked, but there was just a ton of chopping to do: garlic, sweet potato, green beans, sweet red pepper, hot habanero pepper, snow peas, kale, a small chicken breast for protein, and a bunch of scallions.
Right after Jill arrived, we all sat down at her laptop computer for an hour or so. She had over 1,000 pictures of her recent trip to Australia and New Zealand that we had asked her to bring. There were a lot of duplicates (like 40 pictures of kangaroos) that she could just dash through.
Jill showing her Australia and New Zealand pictures to us.
We got through all of the Australia pictures before lunch, and then finished up the New Zealand pictures after lunch. It was great.
Jill got so many terrific shots, like this wallaby...
Jill and her Australian wallaby friend.
And the scenery was just spectacular in both countries. If it didn't take something like 36 hours of total time to get there, I think I'd like to see both countries. But traveling that far and taking that long is not on my retirement agenda at all. I'll just enjoy it through other folks pictures! Thanks, Jill!
03/13/18: 3rd Blizzard In 11 Days!
Well, this is interesting: our 3rd Blizzard In 11 Days! I'm looking out the window with snow coming down so hard that it's tough seeing the trees in the backyard. We ultimately ended up with 26 inches being dumped on us up here with surrounding areas from 8 to 14 inches. It was quite a storm!
It's been snowing since early morning, and the projection is for over a foot today with perhaps as much as another 3 to 5 inches tomorrow - which we got, and brought out total on the ground snow depth to 36 inches! This is the 3rd major storm to hit in 11 days, and New England is hunkered down for the worst. Most business are closed, and literally thousands of airline flights have been canceled.
Sue caught this great picture of the barn at the height of the blizzard.
I'm just letting the driveway stack up as I have no interest in trying to push the blower through this stuff. I've asked one of our neighbors who has an excavation company and does plowing if he could come by tomorrow and do all of that for us.
03/16/18: Photography Class in Dover
Sue and I drove down to The 99 Restaurant in Dover for an early dinner Friday 03/16/18. They were having some St. Patrick's Day specials that looked interesting.
We thought it would be fun to check it out before heading over to The McConnell Center at 6:00pm. We had signed up to take a class in stock photography from Sue's friend Allan Wood of Allan Wood Photography, and his ShutterStock site.
Not only were we celebrating St Patrick's Day, but also 1 year from starting to move in here on March 13, 2017. Fortunately, the weather had been clear for the last couple of days, though it has been really windy and cold. I think the sun has absorbed over 4 inches of snow!
I was fixing Beef Stew with Dark Beer and Paprika. Sue had already made up a special desert for us, a Mojito Pie. I'm glad I got an early start because the stew had to simmer for a couple of hours, and the prep work took a lot longer than I thought it would.
I amazingly got caught up with my work, and so Sue and I had a chance to sit down and get a couple of sets of backgammon in before the party started. The stew came out just super, and put us all into a great mood for the movie of the night, the 2007 Matt Damon movie The Bourne Ultimatum
03/20/18: First Day of Spring???
Though this is the first day of Spring, we still have a huge amount of snow still on the ground from last week's blizzard that dropped 26 inches on us up here on the mountain.
Because of that storm, I had to cancel a lunch meeting with my long time karate disciple Russ Jones of Laconia. We rescheduled for today, and I drove up to Patrick's Pub & Eatery in Gilford. We had a nice chat over beer and burgers, and got caught up on what's been going on.
But when I got home, the snow piles were still here....
03/23/18: 2 Dinners!
Sue and I were on the drive up to her Aunt Carol's in Ossipee, NH to celebrate her 82 birthday when we got a call from Colin to see if we wanted to get together for dinner with them later.
What a great day! Carol had requested a corned beef and cabbage New England boiled dinner for her birthday lunch. I had done all of the prep work that morning at home to save some time at Carol's. I mixed the corned beef with some herbs, brown mustard, and a bottle of Killian's Irish Red beer in a large stainless steel pot, and then added the carrots, onion, celery, and cabbage.
I got the pot boiling as soon as we arrived at Carol's and then let it simmer for an hour before adding in the potatoes. It turned out great, and we had a lovely visit with her. We had brought Beau with us, and he enjoyed all the attention.
We got back home around 3:00pm and had a relaxing afternoon, as well as getting in a few sets of backgammon. I drove over to pick up some beer and Chinese food in Alton and was back home about 15 minutes before Colin and Ren arrived around 7:00pm. It was great to see them, and to catch up on all their news.
03/24/18: Home and Garden Show in Durham
Around 11:00am Saturday morning, Sue and I headed over to UNH's Whittemore Center in Durham for a Home and Garden Show. There are always interesting booths and stuff to see at these things, and Sue was looking forward to doing some casual browsing.
After checking everything out there, we walked over to the UNH Green Houses operated by their horticulture department. Sue has worked in several garden and landscape businesses, and so she knows a lot more about this sort of thing than I do. We had wanted to grow rosemary, and she found a nice plant, along with some other plants to add to our gardens. Of course, the 15 inches or so of remaining snow will have to melt off, but we're optimistic that will be fairly soon!
Water feature exhibit at UNH Green House Open House
We stopped on the way home and did some food shopping at the Hannafords in Rochester, and got back home around 3:30. The sky is looking like it could spit snow at anytime. The forecast has a high percentage chance of that in the higher elevations where we are, with a snow/rain mix along the flatlands of the coast. The temperature was hovering around 38 degrees when we got home, and had fallen quite a bit from the low 40s during the day. Forecast is for upper 20s this evening, so we'll get the wood stove going, grab a glass of wine, and be all set if it does snow!
03/25/18: New Hampshire Maple Sugar Weekend
Sue and I headed over to Brookfield, NH Sunday afternoon 03/25/18 to visit Seabrisket, a small, hands on maple syrup producer.
We had tried this a couple of weeks ago by going over to Journeys End Maple Farm in Pittsfield, NH. But they, like most producers, don't start boiling until around the end of March.
This year, the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association designated March 24 and 25 as Maple Sugar Festival Weekend. This is when all of the 350+ members of the association open their doors to the public to come and observe them at work boiling the raw sap and preparing it for sale.
Offloading raw sap from a truck that just came in from collecting.
Stacked "biscuit wood" for the boiler.
Sap collecting bucket.
View across the little harbor to where we parked the car in Wolfeboro.
While we were there, a truck with a fresh load of sap pulled up, and we watched as the two 35 gallon tanks were pumped into the holding tank in the boiling shed. It was pretty cool to watch them take a portable spectroscopic reading of the sugar content of the raw sap before pumping it off the truck.
We went into the house where they have a small bakery, had a homemade cookie, and sampled each of the 3 grades of syrup they offered. I bought a quart of the dark blend as I thought the flavors were just spectacular. I asked why such thin pieces of wood were used to feed the boiler, and was told the wood was called "biscuit wood" because it burned very hot and produced a nice coal bed quickly, and was used in the old cast iron stoves to make biscuits.
It was such perfect day for this, too. It was snowing just enough to stick on the trees and make the whole experience just that much more special. Just a great time.
To get home, I thought it would be really nice to go back Route 109, and down through Wolfeboro. It was a beautiful drive, just about 20 minutes to downtown. We got out and walked around town for awhile, stopping at one of our favorite bookstores, The Country Bookseller.
After we got home, I let a fire in the wood stove because it was starting to cool off. We sipped some wine and played several sets of backgammon (3 games to a set), just relaxing through the late afternoon and early evening. We were amazed that even at 7:30pm, the sun had still not fallen below the tree line. It's so pretty up here. Great life!
04/01/18: Easter In Ossipee
Sue and I drove up Sunday 04/01/18 to her niece Tracy's home in Ossipee, NH to celebrate Easter. Great to see everyone, and share wonderful food and stories.
Sue's sister-in-law, Joann, guarding the food!
Sue unwrapping Beau's Easter gift from Tracy.
Marissa posted this picture of Mia all set for Easter Sunday!
04/06/18: April Snow Flurries!
It began spitting snow during the early Friday morning hours! In April!
We woke up to a light dusting, and it kept up all day. By late afternoon there was almost an inch of snow covering the ground and bushes.
I got a fire going in the wood stove just after 4:30pm, poured a glass of wine for Sue and me, and we had just the nicest, and relaxing time taking it all in and playing a few sets of backgammon.
04/07/18: Home Depot Run and Early Dinner Out
Sue had some plants that she wanted to pick up at Home Depot in Rochester, and we decided to combine that with dinner at Revolution Taproom & Grill just a little further down the road in town. Unfortunately, I didn't find the dinner there to be very good. My Yelp! review follows:
Beau had soooo much fun running around in the snow drifts.
Even though it's well over an hour to get there, she had wanted to see it and to take some pictures. So, off we all went!
On the way back, we stopped off at the grocery store to shop for dinner. I wanted to try to do a wonderfully sounding Ethiopian Chicken Stew called, Doro Wat in a spicy Berbere sauce.
When we got home, I did all the major food prep work so that we could relax in front of the wood stove, and play a few sets of backgammon. To complement the meal, I selected a really nice bottle of Apothic Red Winemaker's Blend, and we sipped that as we played.
Wow! the Doro Wat came out spectacularly, and the wine, though inexpensive, was a nice complement to the flavors bursting out of the meal. I want to make this again, but next time serve it over a bed of herb spiced brown rice rather than the egg shell noodles I used. The noodles were great with it, but I think the rice would better absorb the robust flavors of the Berbere sauce.
We finished off the night watching the terrific 2015 Robert Redford movie, Truth, about the unnecessary fall of Dan Rather, one of the greatest television journalists of all time.
04/09/18: Tree Dropped
During one of Nor'easters we had last month on the 8th, one of the big trees up by the stone wall lost a huge main limb. Sue's great niece's husband Ethan, and his dad came over today and took the whole tree down. What a mess....
04/10/18: More Snow!
Sue and I drove over to Barnstead, NH late afternoon on Tuesday 04/10/18 to pick up a couple of wooden end tables for the bedroom. On the way down the mountain, we had a soft mix of misty rain and snow that turned into just sporadic light rain as we drove along Route 28.
But on the way back home as soon as we got closer to the Alton area, the misty rain became a light snow that increased as we climbed back up the mountain. By the time we got home, the snow was coming down pretty consistently such that there was a light dusting that had accumulated on the branches and ground.
It continued snowing through the evening, and actually became quite pronounced as we could see large flakes falling in the light from the back carriage lamp. We woke up Wednesday to probably just over an inch. It didn't last long on the ground, though, as the sun and warmer temperatures ate it all up.
That's got to be it for snow this season!
04/13/18: Power Company Takes Out Tree
While Ethan and his dad were working on taking that tree out back down last Monday 04/09, they had pointed out another one in front along the road that was rotted and in danger of falling on the power lines.
I had called New Hampshire Electric Co-op, our provider, about it, and they sent a truck out today, Friday 04/13. The crew dropped that one just fine, but it's a real mess out there....
What's left of the rotted tree after the power company took it down.
Sue had left earlier this morning to head down to RI to celebrate Jill's birthday with her, so she missed the show. I'm sure she'll be impressed with the dead remains.... The company said they'd send another truck out within a week or so to take all the stumps away.
04/14/18: Yet Another Snow Storm!
Friday 04/13, The Great Plains got slammed with a huge snow storm, with some places in Nebraska getting 3 feet of snow, and then the midwest got up to 2 feet of lake effect snow in places. Ouch!
Before it started to get nasty around here Saturday 04/14/18, I took Beau for a short walk in the woods and snapped this picture of the back of the house through the trees.
You can see the surrounding mountains in the distance over the tree line.
By mid afternoon, however, a cold, thick, and steady rain began falling. I let Beau out for a quick run just as it started as predictions were for it to get pretty bad as the evening came on. And it did, sleeting and snowing pretty heavily all night with a strong, blustery wind whipping sleet against the windows.
The storm continued all day Sunday, and into the evening. When we got up Monday morning 04/16/18 there was still a fairly steady snow and sleet mix being blown around by the wind.
Because of the rain mix, there was just a small snow accumulation. The walkways and driveway, however, had about a half inch of mushy ice covering them that I had to chop through
Needless to say, we had the wood stove roaring from Friday night and through most of the week. In fact, it was so chilly with the intense wind sweeping against the house that we really had that stove pumping out the heat so much that we hit a new record temperature in the upstairs hall of 95 degrees! Past record was 91 back in January.
04/19/18: Dinner In Deerfied, NH
To celebrate the 8th anniversary of our first date, I took Sue to the The Nine Lions Tavern in Deerfield, NH for dinner.
We had a great meal, and enjoyed the nice atmosphere there. Here's my review on Yelp!:
04/20/18: Gale and Grandson Ben Visit
Our friend Gale brought her grandson Ben with her for a quick visit Friday 04/20/18. He and Beau had a great time romping around in the yard.
The clinic leader, Sarah, was really wonderful in explaining to the 10 of us, gathered on benches in what used to be the farm's pigsty, the history of the farm, and of the importance of mushrooms in the overall forest ecosystem. I had no idea the vital role the mycelium of the mushroom plays in managing the ecology, and am interested enough to want to learn a bit more.
After the clinic, we wandered around the grounds of the farm for a few minutes, and then headed over to Route 3 to grab a bite to eat and get some coffee.
Before heading home, we stopped off at Prospect Mountain High School in Alton to check out the local rotary group's annual home and garden show. There were a lot of interesting exhibits, and Sue and I met some wonderful folks that we hope to stay in touch with.
04/24/18: Spring Hath Sprung!
It's 04/24/18 and it seems to be true! It appears that Spring really has sprung up here on the mountain.
Sue's Daffodils flourishing over by the barn.
Because the temperature reached 68 degrees, I put out the lawn chairs by the screen house. When Sue got back from visiting her brother in Ossipee, we sat out there sipping some wine and enjoyed watching the afternoon sun arch gracefully down toward the western tree line.
04/28/18: Spring Yard Work Day
Saturday 04/28/18 was Spring yard work day. When Ethan and his girls - his 'crew' - arrived at 9:30, it was still a little brisk out. But it didn't take long for the sun to warm everything up.
Sue's nephew Derek arriving with the raised garden bed frames he had made for us as the 'crew' scatters.
05/04/18: Ring The Bell Celebration for Alan!
Rather than getting up at 2:00 am Saturday morning to drive into Boston to catch our 6:30 am flight out to Utah tomorrow, we drove down to the Holiday Inn Express in Saugus, MA Friday afternoon.
While we were having dinner at The 99 Restaurant I got a text message from my brother Alan with pictures of him and Abbie hamming it up with a bottle of wine. They were celebrating his recent completion of chemotherapy treatment where when you head out of the hospital they ring a bell.
Of course, as his brother, I had to respond in kind. Sue took this shot of me toasting them back, and I sent it off to him. What a great way for us to begin our trip!
05/05/18: Hell's Backbone Grill and Beyond Trip
Sue and I took a 9 day trip to Utah from May 4th through the 13th. The motivation for the trip, well... from my viewpoint, anyway, was to fulfill my current, one and only item on my "Bucket List": to have dinner at Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder, UT. And from Sue's viewpoint, she's happy to come along to HBG, but she has always wanted to see this part of the country.
We flew into Salt Lake City, UT on the 5th, and spent 9 days driving south, stopping in Salina, Boulder, Cannonville, La Verkin, and St. George, flying out of St. George on the 13th.
It was a terrific trip, made even more special when Sue's kids Lucas and Jill were able to join us for dinner at Hell's Backbone Grill, and then see Bryce Canyon with us the next day before heading for their homes.
Jill had flown into Los Angeles, CA from her home in Westerly, RI to meet up with Lucas who had moved to L.A. recently. From there, they drove to Torrey, UT where we met them for brunch before visiting Capitol Reef National Park, and then continuing on to Boulder, UT, and beyond!!!
05/21/18: Hike Up Pine Mountain
Sue and I took a hike with Beau up Pine Mountain over in Alton. This is his 1 year with us celebration, and he just loves running around on the trails up there. He'll dash ahead, turn around and look, and if he knows he's gone too far he'll come flying back down the trail to us. He must run 3 times the distance that we walk.
Because of the threat of rain later in the day, she started mid morning by getting a work area established. She dragged just 3 of the logs that she had collected over to the barn, as well as a small camp grill she had borrowed from her brother, the bag of plugs, wax, and other equipment she'd need.
I came out, started the grill, and took over drilling holes in the logs while Sue began to melt the beeswax over the grill. After I got holes drilled into a log, Sue started hammering the plugs into the holes while I started drilling the next log.
Once the wax was melted, Sue started painting each plug with it while I finished hammering plugs into the next log and then drilling holes into the 3rd log.
And, man,are the black flies out, or what! We had to spray ourselves down twice. Though the Beau Dog crept away as I approached him, he still got sprayed. And the ticks are fierce as well. Sue picked a couple off herself yesterday, as well as I found a couple on me. And when we tick-checked Beau, we pulled a couple off of him.
05/26/18: Memorial Day Weekend Cookout
We invited Sue's family down for a Memorial Day weekend cookout Saturday 05/26/18 to thank them all for all of the help each one of them has been with work around the house over the last few months. We've had trees cut and trimmed, major work done to the brook area, huge raking and clean up of overgrown areas, and just a ton of other things.
It was quite a day! Of the 15 of us, there were 5 little ones all over the place that kept us hopping! Everyone started arriving around 2:00 pm and by 4:00 pm it was time to get the grill going for its inaugural work for the season.
05/27/18: Ethan and the Kids Visit
When Ethan came down to help us with the grass-forest in the backyard, he brought Bristol and Everly with him. They rushed at Sue and wanted to play as Ethan off loaded his 52 inch deck mower and started reaping through the grass.
Sue and the girls watching the geese at a pond in Farmington.
Since Sue had wanted to go up to an antique sale in Wolfeboro, she offered to keep the kids with us for a couple of hours so he could get some stuff done at his house. We played kick ball out in the yard with them for awhile, all the time Beau chasing after them or the ball.
After dropping the girls off at their house, we visited the Wolfeboro Antiques & Artisan Barn. What a great place! And their prices seemed for the most part to be very reasonable. We spent about a half hour browsing around. Sue found an antique orange squeezer, and I bought a beautiful large copper pale that we may use for kindling wood and paper for the wood stove as opposed to our current wooden basket.
05/28/18: Short Family Memorial Day Visit to Ossipee, NH
Sue had promised her Aunt Carol, who lives in Ossipee, NH, she'd bring her a lobster roll sandwich from one of our local fish markets. So, we left here around noon Monday 05/28/18, Memorial Day, stopped at the market in Rochester, NH, and headed up Route 16.
When we first started out heading North on Route 16, traffic coming down from the White Mountain area was pretty light. But that must have been an illusion because we hadn't even got to Wakefield before traffic heading south became bumper to bumper.
And it stayed that way all the way into Ossipee. It was going to take folks a long, long time on that single lane before they could break out into 4 lanes in Rochester. And then there would be the Rochester and Dover toll backups, and I can't imagine the Hampton tolls....
We had planned on the way home from Carol's to stop off at her brother Alan's to see him and Joann. But seeing that mess going south, Sue called him and said we'd stop to visit briefly with them on the way up.
We figured when we left Carol's we could continue north, swing east over Route 25 to Route 171, work our way down to Wolfeboro, and then take 28 south from there into Alton. Going home that way is just about an hour. In light traffic, going back Route 16 from Carol's is only about 45 minutes. But today, that could be an hour and a half....
Alan and Joann were relaxing in lawn chairs enjoying the day when we got there. They were still dog sitting for their daughter Tracy's dog Sadie, who they had brought with them to the Memorial Day weekend cookout at our house the other day, and Beau could hardly wait to get over to play.
It didn't take the two of them long before we heard splashing: Sadie had led Beau down to a small stream behind the house, and both of them came up wet and muddy. Terrific.
We had a nice visit with Carol, and she spoiled Beau to death with all the treats. It's to the point now where Sue can't stop by if she doesn't bring Beau with her. Carol would probably hide him away in the back room if she thought she could get away with it!
We left Carol's just after 3:00 pm, and were home just after 4:00 pm. It was a beautiful ride over 171 and down through the back roads into Wolfeboro. It's so nice up there, as is everywhere in the Lakes Region. We just love it, and love just to drive around!
06/02/18: Dinner Out With The Houses
Sue and I had wanted to give our friends Tim and Cindy House a night out, and so Saturday night we met them at the Three Chimneys Inn in Durham, NH. We ate in the ffrost Sawyer Tavern, and it was just a terrific time.