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.
It was a beautiful clear day with temps in the 50s as we headed out. The hike up on both the backside trail we took as well as the main trail is just enough to get you puffing a little. Beau loved it, running all over the place until we got almost to the top where there are some side looping trails where we had to put him on his leash.
We took a different route driving back home onto River Road. It had been a long time since I had driven that, and glad that we opted to do it as it's such a pretty ride. It's rough in spots, mostly gravel, but a surging stream, Mad River, runs alongside of it. We stopped at a small pull off by a bridge, and walked down to the water. Beautiful.
On the way up, we stopped at The Flume Gorge State Park and spent a couple of hours waling the loop trail. I'm glad Sue had suggested it because it had been 20 years since either of us had been there.
After touring all around the Franconia and Sugar Hill areas, we drove to our hotel, The Inn At Sunset Hill. We relaxed in the inn's downstairs sitting room, chatted with the staff, and played backgammon until we decided to try their new chef's food in the pub restaurant. It was wonderful! We had such a good time.
06/13/18: Cookout at Marissa's
On Wednesday evening 06/13/18, Sue and I went to Marissa's at 5:30pm for a cookout to celebrate a late birthday with her as they were off to Mohegan Sun for the weekend. We had originally planned to take them out to dinner, but it had been such a hectic week for them that Marissa just wanted to stay home and have a cookout.
In the morning, Sue and I drove over to Butternut Farm and picked 4 small boxes of fresh strawberries. Going to Butternut is always a fun experience as it's such a lovely place.
Sue pressing forward toward the huge strawberry picking field.
On the way home, we stopped at Home Depot and Walmart to get a bunch of things, though Sue couldn't wait to get home and had to grab a coffee at Dunkin Donuts. After putting the groceries away, Sue whipped up a super potato salad to take to the party.
It's still bike week, and the motorcycles are driving around all over the place, though the center for them is over in Laconia and the Weirs Beach area. But Route 11 is busy with not only them, but the general starting of summer traffic - even on a Wednesday.
Today is also my brother Alan's birthday - his 88th! To celebrate, he and the family went out to dinner at one of his favorite nearby restaurants, Vito Ristorante Italiano. Happy B-Day, Bro! From your bro what loves you despite your failings and abnormalities....
Scott took this picture of Alan (again, hamming it up for the camera), Abbie, and Justin having Alan's 88th Birthday dinner at nearby Vito Ristorante Italiano.
And we had a lovely visit with Marissa, Gary, and Mia. Since it was a little chilly to sit outside by the pool as Marissa had hoped, we just relaxed in the porch and looked out at the pool instead.
Mia has become quite the chatter box, and kept Sue totally entertained. As the chicken and steak kabobs were cooking on the grill, we all went outside and sat around one of the tables out on the deck. But Mia wasn't interested in anything to do with dinner, and kept sliding out of her chair and wandering off, wanting Sue to find stuff for her.
Mia and Marissa in the kitchen getting things ready to take outside for dinner.
And, when it was time for Mia to go to bed, she even wanted Sue to take her upstairs and read to her. After Sue came back down, we sat outside for a little while before heading inside where it was a little warmer. We didn't want to stay too late on a busy work week night for Marissa and Gary, and so we headed off around 9:00pm. Such a nice, relaxing visit.
Later, she drove us up to Wolfeboro where we wandered around the dock area until 11:45 when we boarded the Millie B.
The Millie B ready for boarding! Beautiful, just beautiful.
Then Sue drove me over to the N.H. Boat Museum that was so much fun. On the way home, we stopped at the Alton Circle Store and got a pizza for dinner. I set up the backgammon board on the screened porch, we toasted to a wonderful day, and had a nice party.
Sue gave me a wonderful birthday: her terrific ideas of neat stuff she knew I'd enjoy, and her time sharing it with me.
06/17/18: Father's Day
It was so great that Colin came over Sunday morning for a Father's Day visit. He brought breakfast sandwiches for us, and we took them and cups of coffee up to the screen porch.
It was a beautiful day, and we sat in the Adirondack chairs enjoying the day and just talking.
Sue yelled up at us from the house and snapped this shot of us waving back at her.
It was so thoughtful of him to call me, bring a card, and then spend his time with me. A true gift of my life.
And to top it all off, Sue and I worked together in the kitchen sipping a nice William Hill Sauvignon Blanc while fixing sautéed chicken breasts covered with a creamy tarragon and shiitake mushroom sauce. And for desert, Sue had made a wonderful Lemon Ricotta With Berry Compote.
06/21/18: First Day of Summer!
What great weather today! Just right for the first day of Summer.
First on the agenda was Sue took Beau for a walk and then loaded him into the car for his first ever trip to a groomer. He was amazed....
I don't think Beau is too sure about what's going on at this point....
When Sue brought him home, he just tore-ass all over the yard. Not sure if that was just being frisky, or relieved that the ordeal was over.
But, back in his own yard, he's relaxed.
And looking good!
Later that afternoon, Sue and I relaxed out on the screen porch, sipped a glass of wine, and played a couple of sets of backgammon. We headed out for Alton Bay around 5:30pm for an early dinner at Shibley's at the Pier. Shibley's sits right on the Bay, with outside dining and boat tie-ups. And the food is terrific. Here's the Yelp! review I wrote:
When we got back home, Rick from the mower repair shop had dropped my Cub Cadet off. I patted it's hood and told it we had a lot of grass to cut in the morning. It was really getting out of control, and I wanted the yard to be nice as Lucas and Rachel would be visiting for the weekend.
Of course, that didn't work out.... I got up Friday morning, jumped in the saddle, and wheeled the cub cadet around the yard. I was just doing the 4th run, and it stopped cold. Nothing. There wasn't even a hiss when I turned the key.
It's probably something wrong with the ignition. I know about a gnat's ass worth on engine stuff, so just left it sitting in the yard. I went in and called Rick. He agreed that it sounded like ignition, but warned me about getting spare parts by saying something comforting like, "You do know how old that machine is, right?" Terrific. See you sometime Sunday, Rick....
Sue worked most of the rest of the afternoon in the yard on her flower and vegetable beds. I came out around 3:00 and did some watering because the predicted rain earlier in the week didn't happen. It had been sunny and hot out for the last few days, and the ground was pretty dry.
We came in, got cleaned up, and parked it out on the screen porch to sip some wine and relax over the backgammon board while the pizza baked in the oven. We finished off the evening with the really good 2017 movie Molly's Game staring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, and Kevin Costner.
06/23/18: Lucas and Rachel Visit
Lucas and Rachel came for a short visit before heading back to L.A. For dinner Saturday I fixed a curried potatoes, chickpeas, and carrots with cilantro over herb flavored brown rice as the main course with sautéed asparagus, onions, and mixed wild mushrooms as a side. Lots of moving parts to that main dish, so we didn't eat until 7:45.
Rachel had to leave to visit her dad around noon on Sunday. While Lucas got onto the computer to work on a project that was due early next week, Sue and I headed off to Rochester to Mia's birthday party.
We got back from the party around 3:30 after stopping to shop for ribs and other ingredients that we were going to fix for dinner. Lucas was still working, and so while I got the ribs marinating, Sue made up a potato salad. After I shucked the corn, Sue buttered them, sprinkled them with pepper and chives, and wrapped them in aluminum foil.
Being all set with dinner prep work, we played some backgammon out on the screen porch until 6:45 when it was time for me to light the grill. I grabbed a glass of wine and headed out with the marinated ribs and corn on the cob. The cooking went smoothly, though I was running about 15 minutes over. Lucas had come downstairs from working just before I came in with the ribs and corn, and so timing was perfect. And the food was as well!
After dinner we watched the incredibly stupid 2018 movie Annihilation. Truly sleep inducing for what should have been not only a visually spectacular movie, but a great story idea. It was corny beyond my understanding.
Sue took Lucas out for breakfast Monday morning so they could have some nice one-on-one time. Just after they got back, the sun sprayed out from behind the clouds from the overnight rain. We had been lucky with the weather as thunderstorms had been predicted for the area for the last few days. But all it had done is be very overcast with just the occasional evening sprinkle. Well, up here on the mountain, anyway.
06/24/18: Mia is 3!!
Sunday, while Lucas worked on his project, Sue and I drove down to Rochester to attend my granddaughter Mia's 3rd birthday party.
Mia on her 3rd Birthday.
She must have been in the pool because I got soaked giving her a hug. And then she was off! There were kids everywhere, and it was easy to see that she was having a great time.
We had a bite to eat and chatted with as many folks as we could, but were only able to stay for a little over an hour. We had to stop on the way home to shop for dinner, and Sue wanted to spend some time with Lucas.
It wouldn't be long before he and Rachel were off to L.A., and she wouldn't be able to see him again for quite a long time. But she had so wanted to see Mia, if only briefly, on her great 3rd birthday!
While we were at the party, the sun peeked out of the clouds for just enough time for Mia to want to get back in the pool. She ran over to where her safety gear was and insisted, quite adamantly, that someone get the stuff on her so she could go into the pool.
Tear-assing around the yard!
Gary's mom and friend playing a game at Mia's pirate themed party.
It took her awhile to plunge in, though. Because it had been so cloudy during the last few days, and really chilly at night, the water wasn't exactly warm. But eventually, in she went! She came out just as we were getting ready to leave, and Sue and I both got the nicest hugs from her. How great is that!
Happy 3rd Birthday, Mia!
06/27/18: Morning Climb Up Pine Mountain
Sue, Beau, and I headed out Wednesday morning 06/27/18 with my karate disciple Eleanne Solorzano, her mom, and daughter to climb Pine Mountain in Alton.
We wanted to get an early start as the temperature was supposed to climb into the high 80s. The hike though the woods was nice, and even the top wasn't too hot by the time we got up there. Beau had a good time, racing ahead and then dashing back.
But by the time we got back home, it was getting really warm. Glad we got out early for the climb.
06/30/18: Morning Hike and Barnstead Farmer's Maarket
Sue had wanted to check out the Barnstead Farmer's Market, but because the temperature was supposed to climb into the 90s today (Saturday), she wanted to get Beau out for a walk first.
Despite the already humid air, I put on a pair of jeans because the bugs had just drove me nuts when were out walking in the woods at Pine Mountain the other day. I'm glad I did, and then doused myself with bug spray because Sue took us a new place to walk that was really though the woods.
One of the paths used to be a narrow, gravel connector road, but the bridge across a small river had crumbled away leaving the road to decay and become washed out. The trees and bushes on both sides were now overhanging, forming a sort of cooling arch, but it was really getting hot. And the mosquitoes and flies were really aggravating poor Beau. And me....
Sue knew of a couple of places where the river ran close, and Beau had no problem wadding around in the cooling water. But, of course, with the cooling river water comes the muddy banks that Beau loves to tromp though, sometimes deciding to roll around in it. Terrific...
The walk, though refreshing, still wore me out anyway just from the humidity. We jumped back in the car, drove home, and got somewhat cooled down after changing clothes before we headed out to the Barnstead Farmer's Market.
It's just a quick drive down Route 28, but that wasn't the point. It was an adventure!
It turns out to have been more than just an adventure: we met Nathan who does custom wooden signs. I had been wanting to get Sue a Twilight Farm sign for the barn to celebrate her change-over to Twilight Farm Photography for her photography work.
We had a nice chat with Nathan, who came up with a couple of designs that Sue had mentioned she would like to see. It shouldn't take him long to get it made up for her.
The market was more of a crafts fair than a true farmer's market. It was fun, but I think we were hoping for more of seeing produce selections from the surrounding farms than checking out crafts booths. But it was fun, and without going I wouldn't have seen Nathan's booth to get Sue a great sign for the Barn.
Sue wanted to stop in the Dollar General that was just around the corner from the market. She had been hinting at my reaction to her thoughts on getting a kids wading pool for Beau. Seems she had seen one at Aubuchon Hardware at the Alton Circle the other day, and thought he'd enjoy that while she was out in the yard gardening.
I thought it was really pushing things to be getting a wadding pool for a dogggg, but she wanted to stop and check to see what their prices were. And, wouldn't you know it: right there outside the door was a stack of small, plastic kids wading pools for the mere price of $8. Sold. Done. Stuffed it into the back of the Forrester, and lugged it home.
07/01/18: Great Sunday Meal and Movie
Sunday started out hot, and ended hotter. It was pretty tough, and it's expected to get worse as the week progresses.
I was surprised with the crazy shopping crowds at the Hannaford's market. We got there mid afternoon, and there were people everywhere. It was probably because this was a long 4th of July holiday vacation week for a lot of folks coming up to the area.
I had been wanting to fix this simple Lemon Garlic Butter Herb Chicken with a side of asparagus, so the bulk of the shopping was for this. With as hot as it was, this would be a perfect, quick meal to prepare. I'm glad we didn't have too much stuff to find, because all I wanted to do was get out of the crowds!
I followed the recipe for the chicken pretty closely, which is not really normal for me. But, it was just about how I would have done it anyway with the main herbs listed: oregano, thyme, and rosemary. The sequence was a little different than I might have thought, I learned something new, and it came out super.
I did wing it with the asparagus, though. I sauteed them rather than steaming, adding onion, red pepper, shiitake and bella mushrooms, in a white wine, thyme, rosemary, and butter sauce to complement the chicken.
To top of the night we watched the 2018 movie Forever My Girl. What a terrific movie! We both really enjoyed it, but I was particularly taken by it. It was so well acted and done that I wouldn't mind owning it.
07/03/18: 4th of July Fireworks at Ossipee Lake
Sue and I drove up to Ossipee Lake late Tuesday afternoon 07/03/18 to see the 4th of July Fireworks from her brother's wife's family camp.
Fireworks were supposed to start around 9:30, and so as the late afternoon and early evening wore on, a dozen or so of her niece's and nephew's, and great (and great-great!) nieces and nephews arrived.
We had a great time watching the kids splashing around in the water, and running all over the place. The weather was just perfect, and not too many mosquitoes were on the prowl. There was a lot of boat traffic across the lake from the cove that the house sits in, and it was nice to sit on the deck and watch all the holiday activity.
Alan's wife Joann brought cold cuts and macaroni salads for those who were hungry. They were having another party and cookout on the 4th, and so this was just a simple get together for those who wanted to watch the fireworks.
07/04/18: Low Key 4th of July on the Mountain
Because we've had such a busy week, and then great time last night up in Ossipee, we just had a low key Wednesday around the house for the 4th of July.
Sue took this nice picture through the kitchen window this afternoon.
07/07/18: Kayaking on the Merrymeeting River
It had been so hot for the last few days (in the 90s with really high humidity) we were afraid that it would be that way all weekend. However, a couple of good rain storms brought cooling weather, and so on Saturday we loaded the kayaks onto my car and went kayaking on the Merrymeeting River for a few hours.
Sue spotted this American Bald Eagle circling the river looking for food.
She got this great picture of him soaring away.
Sue took this as we crossed under the Merrymeeting Road bridge.
07/13/18: Blueberry Picking at Norland Berries
Since the currency trade I have held for too long now is still not cooperating, and because it was a beautiful Friday morning, I jumped in the car with Sue around 10:00 am to go blueberry picking at Norland Berries in Barnstead, NH.
What a great place. It was my first time visiting there, and they have a beautiful 85 acre spread. We picked for about an hour and totally filled up a 7 pound bucket. At $2.25 a pound, Sue had all she thought she needed to make pie, ice cream, and cookies. We're going to be eating a lot, a lot, of blueberries....
Sue having the best time filling her bucket with blueberries at Norland Berries in Barnstead, NH Friday 07/13/18
And it was such a beautiful day; just perfect. The sun was out but not blazing as it has been with temps just under 80F. I had so much fun, I didn't even think about my open position; that'll do what it'll do and I'll just have to wait this one out over the weekend.
After paying, we thought we'd continue to follow the road and see where it would come out. Sue remembers every road and flower everywhere she's been, and so when we got to some corner by a small lake, she knew right where to go from there. Good thing, as I had no clue. Actually, I didn't really care as she was driving, and I could just gape around for a change.
07/14/18: Everly's Birthday Party
Sue and I went up to celebrate her great-great niece's 2nd Birthday in Ossipee, NH Saturday afternoon 07/14/18.
Mob scene around the gifts!
It was just a perfect day, and the yard was full of kids running all over the place. We ate just way too much food as we watched all the kids gathered around Everly as Allison helped her open her presents.
Everly watching her friend Julia playing with one of the gifts.
And of course there was a great cake to dig into!
07/15/18: Sunday Cookout
Our friends Art and Donna came over for a wonderful Sunday cookout. It had been threatening rain, but that held off.
It was a perfect day to sit out on the porch, and just chat. And then, while Sue took Donna out into the yard to see the brook, Art and I got the grill going.
As a special treat from the burgers and roasted corn from the grill, Sue brought out her homemade blueberry ice cream flavored with cardamom. Donna just could not figure out what the spice in it was, and it drove her wild because she's pretty good at figuring out things in food. But she just couldn't get this one, and was so surprised when Sue told her.
Of course, then Donna whipped her phone out and started reading all about cardamom, and then other herbs and spices as she's really into that. Lots of fun!
As we were packing for the trip Wednesday morning, Sue mentioned that she had never been to Marblehead, MA and thought it was fairly close. I had never been there either, but friends have always mentioned how beautiful it was.
It took about 2 hours to get to Lighthouse Point in the Chandler Hovey Park overlooking Marblehead Harbor. What a spectacular view that is! We were having such a good time that we stayed a little longer than we had planned, and didn't head out for the hotel until about 3:00 pm. I wasn't concerned as even if the drive took a couple of hours we'd be fine.
But when we got to Route 93, traffic began to bog down. By the time we got to the tunnel, it was a parking lot. We didn't get to the hotel until just after 5:30 pm, over 2 and a half hours of just stupid traffic. Fortunately, there was a 99 Restaurant next to the hotel, so we had a short, but nice dinner, and were at our seats inside the Xfinity Center at 6:50 pm. Whew!
But all of that grief was so worth it! What a show Lindsey Stirling put on, and then Evanescence (Amy Lee) just knocked it out of the park. What a great show!
07/21/18: Busy Saturday
I helped Sue throw her kayak on top of the car Saturday morning. She met our friend Nancy in town, and the 2 of them went kayaking on the Merrymeeting River until mid afternoon.
As she was pulling out of the driveway, I was already tear-assing around the yard on the cub cadet to get the grass cut. The week ahead forecast was looking pretty rainy, and, if not cut, the grass would just get out of control. Even though there was still some dew remaining on the taller areas, the cut went smoothly. And because I had gotten an early start, the sun hadn't hit too hard. But after finishing the mowing and spraying off the cub, it was getting pretty warm.
After running the trimmer over the rough spots, I started in on grinding the grass out from between the stones in the walkway. We had let that grow out a little to see how it would look, perhaps a little more "farm-like". But Sue had mentioned the week before that she didn't really care for it, and so I went at it.
And what a pain in the ass that was.... I went through 3 reels of trimmer line hacking away at it. And then there was so much dirt and debris from it all that after cleaning up I noticed a few spots I had missed. But I was fed up with the trimmer ordeal, and will get the rest of that another time.
After taking a much needed shower, I headed off to Hannaford's to do the food shopping as we had invited Nancy for dinner. Of course, the store was just a beehive of activity. Fortunately, I didn't have a lot to get, and what I did need I knew just where it was located so I didn't have to wander around the place like a lost puppy....
I got the groceries put away, and had a couple of hours to work on a technical analysis of currency price behavior that I've been working on for the last couple of months before Sue got back about 3:00 pm. As soon as she pulled into the driveway, Beau went crazy. He was like a cruise missile as he charged down the walkway and then skidded to a halt by the car.
After helping her put the kayak and gear away, I went back in and finished the current section I had been working on in my analysis document while Sue took a shower and got comfortable. We went out on the porch with some wine and played a couple of sets of backgammon until Nancy arrived about 5:15.
We chatted out there until I started cooking around 6:00 pm. I figured that I could get everything done by 7:00 pm as I had already done some of the prep work earlier. But no. Regardless of what I'm cooking, it takes me an hour and a half. Sometimes I think it'd take me an hour and a half if all I had to do was steam a pot of vegetables. Well, in my defense, there is, after all, wine to be savored during the process, so that's probably the issue....
The meal came out great, and we had a nice time chatting while we ate. After dinner, we watched the pretty well done 2017 Agatha Christie movie Crooked House. For desert, Sue brought out her homemade blueberry ice cream flavored with cardamom. It was terrific, and the sugar cookies we had were a perfect complement to it.
But as soon as the movie ended, Nancy was out the door and off to home to get to bed. We closed up shop quickly and did the same. I don't know why I was so tired, but I know Sue was beat after her busy day. We both slept really soundly.
07/28/18: Relaxing Weekend
Saturday morning, we drove over to the Barnstead Farmers Market. Nathan Gauntt, of Mid State Signworx, had emailed me the other day that the Twilight Farm sign I ordered from him last time we were here 06/30/18 was ready to pick up.
The sign came out just as Nathan and I had discussed, and will look great on the barn. We had a nice chat with him and his wife Chari (who makes custom cakes), and then stopped off at the market to get some ingredients for dinner. Sue was planning on fixing spaghetti squash and other vegetables to keep the meal light, but flavorful.
Later that afternoon as we were sitting out on the scree porch, we had some pretty severe thunderstorms go through. Beau scurried for cover as the thunder crashed all around us. Though all we got was heavy rain, many just west of us lost power and there were many downed trees.
Sue's dinner really hit the spot after I got absolutely hammered by her in backgammon for a record (I think) 30 points down! After cleaning up the kitchen, we went in and watched the really interesting 2014 movie Lambert & Stamp about the formation and career of the 1960s phenomenal rock band, The Who.
After those storms we'd had the night before, Sunday turned out just spectacular. After Sue got back from taking Beau for a walk, we headed over to Sunny Hill Gardens in Loudon, NH as Sue needed to find some additional day lilies for her gardens.
Linda came out to greet us and showed Sue around the gardens, pointing out the selection of early and late blooming day lilies. Sue and I have been out so many times to different places, including here, to get her gardens established with mid season flowers. Now, she needed to fill in flowers that would come out in the spring and some in late July.
We found 4, but will have to come back in a couple of weeks as many of the late bloomers haven't opened yet so we could see what they look like. Sue doesn't need an excuse to come back here!
Instead of heading straight home, we drove into the Alton Circle to shop for the dinner I was creating for the night, a Cajun Shrimp and Sausage dish with asparagus, squash, zucchini, and sweet red pepper. It was a fabulous recipe, the flavors of the Cajun sauce just bursting through the meal. Since I had only done a Cajun inspired meal a couple of times before, I did stick to the recipe.
During shopping a couple of weeks ago, Sue had found an interesting Primal Roots Red Blend that we had for dinner. For the inexpensive price, it was really smooth and complementary to the meal. I'd buy that again anytime. After finishing our dinner, we went into the living room and watched (for probably the 3rd or 4th time) the 2004 Nicholas Sparks inspired movie The Notebook, with the remarkable cast of James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Ryan Gosling, and Rachel McAdams.
08/01/18: Computer Disaster....
When Sue turned the computer on yesterday, the monitor didn't liven up. I called David, A.K.A. The Computer Doctor, in Alton, and he came over the next afternoon to take a look. What I thought was maybe just a bad video card, or connector port turned out to be much worse.
David popped the case, took one look at the age of the computer and all the dust bunnies in there, and cautioned that the end news might not be good. He said even if he could fix it, it might be time to think about getting a new box, to which I agreed, ask him to set that up for me, and pleaded with him to get the data off and onto the new one.
He took the body home with him, and called me later that afternoon with the bad news: it appeared that the mother board was fried, and that it might have whacked the hard drive as well. He had tried a couple of different approaches to access the hard drive, but would have to try again the next day.
While Sue and I were up in Ossipee Saturday the 4th, he called and said that though the good news was that he had a new computer for me, it wasn't looking good at all accessing the old hard drive. I suggested he try to put the old hard drive into the new computer. I thought that maybe the new motherboard and systems would enable him to get in to read the hard drive. He said he'd work on it call me back.
After we got home, he called and said that he had managed to get access to the old hard drive, and had copied all files over onto the new computer's hard drive, a screaming HP 3.5 gig processor, with 8 gig of RAM on the floor, and a 1 terabyte hard drive! Saved! He came over Sunday afternoon, installed the new computer, and then checked access to it from both printer and external backup harddrive. Saved....
08/04/18: To Ossipee to Fix Dinner
Sue and I drove up to Ossipee Saturday afternoon to visit her Aunt Carol. She had been hinting that she'd like a pineapple and brown sugar basted ham, and so on way up we stopped and shopped.
But it wasn't long up Route 28 just outside of Wolfeboro that we ran into some of the heaviest downpour I've seen in a long time. It wasn't so bad that we had to pull off the road, but everyone really had to slow to a crawl.
Friday had been really stormy with severe thunder storms that night. Though it was cloudy most of Saturday, the rain held off until that evening after we got home. Carol had said the rain had come down so hard there that it sounded like someone dumping buckets of water on the roof.
We took Beau up with us, and Carol did her best to spoil him with a constant stream of doggie treats. He loved it, too! As soon as we got there, Sue and I chopped up the carrots, and onions, and got the potatoes in the oven. We gave them a head start before putting the ham in.
It was nice seeing Carol, and she enjoyed her special meal, as well as the chocolate cake that Sue had brought with us. Though Beau had his eyes rolling around as we ate, he only got a couple more of his treats.
The drive back home was interesting because of the really ominous, black clouds coming at us from the south and west. I thought for sure that by the time we got into Wolfeboro that we'd be in the middle of another storm, but everything seemed to pass to the east of us.
Around 6:30 we decided that we'd watch the 2016 movie L.B.J. What a terrific movie. And I just don't understand why Woody Harrelson wasn't even nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. I mean, really, it was just superb. Not sure why the overall ratings were a tepid 6.5 out of 10 as I found it really good. But then, I'm from that era and I suspect younger folks just don't get how critical those events were in our history and the significant role that Johnson had during that period. Many reviews complained that the movie ended too soon, showing how Johnson got the civil rights act passed, but failed to continue on to cover some of his devastating decisions on the Vietnam War. I'm just saying that for a general portrayal of the man, the movie was really good. It wasn't meant to be a full biography....
After yet another heavy rain storm went through the area, Sue peeked outside and saw this beautiful rainbow.
08/08/18: Drive to Sandwich, NH
Sue and I stuffed Beau into the car Wednesday morning 08/08/18 and drove up to Wayside Farm in Sandwich, NH.
Sue had worked for Ben some 20 years before, and not only wanted to catch up with him, but to also get a replacement cherry tree, and some other plants for her gardens.
It was a beautiful ride up, though Beau just didn't seem to care much for it. Not only he just lay like a lump in the back seat, but every now and then would whine. Maybe he would have rather stayed home alone.... One of the reasons that we brought him with us is that there was supposed to be some severe thunder storms rolling through later in the day, and we didn't what him to be alone at home as he's not a fan of thunder.
Sue got some really nice plants, and she and I had a nice chat with Ben. I even picked out a nicely sized potted Rosemary plant. I love the smell of it and thought I'd like to see if I could keep it going in the library all year.There should be enough sun coming through the window I propped it into, so we'll see....
08/11/18: Cookout In The Rain
We had Sue's cousin Jane and her husband Dwight over for a cookout Saturday afternoon 08/11/18. Of course, a couple of hours before they arrived it started to rain.
By the time they got here at 5:30, it was more of a very heavy mist with just sprinkles. But it was muggy, with little breeze.
I got the grill going about 6:30, and while the girls were in the kitchen with Sue making her special fried zucchini patties, Dwight and I went out and grilled the chicken in the rain.
After dinner, while Sue served up a wonderful peach pie that she had justs made, they showed us a couple hundred pictures of their recent trip to Seattle and a cruise to Alaska. That's some spectacular scenary.
08/13/18: Planting New Cherry Tree
When Sue and I were up visiting Ben at Wayside Farm, Sue had bought a cherry tree to replace one that didn't make it last year. She said it was a great day to plant it because all of the rain that we've had over the last few days had softened up the ground.
08/14/18: Sue's Great Mushroom Forage And Dinner Adventure!
Sue was out tromping around in the woods Tuesday morning walking Beau when she stumbled upon a large area of mushrooms. Since she's been studying mushrooms now for awhile, she identified them as the wonderful Black Trumpet variety.
She came flying home with them, and instructed me to stop at the store for supplies on my way back from getting my car undercoated for the winter over in Loudon, NH.
After playing several sets of rather combative backgammon, we went into the kitchen, and I helped her fix a wonderful dinner of the mushrooms, spinnach, and sliced cherry tomatoes sauteed in a rich sauce of fresh sage from our garden and infused into butter with paprika, ground black pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes served over a bed of organic butternut squash ravioli.
The flavors were just terrific! We made enough so that we'll get another meal out of what we fixed, and then she's got enough Black Trumpets left to fix several more meals. We're all set, though she's planning on harvesting more Black Trumpets on her next walk with Beau!
Sue's harvest of Black Trumpet mushrooms
Final dinner from Sue's mushroom foraging
08/16/18: Mission to Concord, NH
Sue and I drove over to the Department of Vital Records in Concord, NH Thursday 08/16/18. She needed to get some documents for her son who moved out to California recently.
It was afternoon before we got out of there, and decided after a short drive through the downtown area to have lunch at the Olive Garden. You just can't go wrong at the Olive Garden for tasty food. I was stuffed, and that was only lunch!
From Concord, we went to Sunny Hill Gardens in Loudon. Linda had told Sue to come back around mid August so she could see the selecction of late blooming day lilies. There were so many beautiful plants to choose from. We really had to control ourselves! Sue picked out 5 different ones, we loaded them into the car, and headed off for home.
Not knowing how long we'd be gone, we had put Beau in Doggie Day Care at the Alton Bed and Biscuit. We were running late and had missed the early pick up time, so I drove back over late that afternoon to get him. He was all wound up, and could hardly wait to pounce on Sue when I let him out of the car.
08/17/18: Dinner Out With Friends to Kick the Weekend Off
Sue had told our friend Cathy about the great lunch we had not long ago at the new Eastern Paradise Asian Cusiene restaurant at the Ridge Marketplace in Rochester. So, Friday night after Steve home from work, they drove over to our house, and the four of us headed off in my car to go there for dinner.
And we weren't disappointed in the taste or quality of the food. It's just really good, though it was just a bit noisy as the place was pretty much full. We all agreed that it would be a great place to go anytime for quality asian food.
08/18/18: Cookout at the Lake in Ossipee, NH
Sue and I loaded Beau into the car and headed up to her Brother's family's camp on Ossipee Lake for a cookout Saturday afternoon 08/18/18.
We stopped off for about an hour at her aunt Carol's. As soon as we pulled into her driveway, Beau knew exactly where we were and went crazy wanting to get out of the car. Carol had a ball feeding Beau treats, and playing with him while we chatted.
We were the first to get up to the lake, and Beau just went flying around the place. He followed Sue and Joann down to the dock, running back and forth as they emptied the rain water out a new inflatable raft they had just got.
Though it started out sunny, it wasn't long before a lightly chilling breeze picked up, and large, dark clouds began rolling across the sky.
Storm clouds blowing over Ossipee Lake
It never rained, but as the others began arriving, the air was cool enough that we all had flannel shirts or jackets on while we sat out on the deck overlooking the little cove the house sits on. As soon as her brother Alan finished grilling up the hamburgers and hotdogs, everyone loaded their plates up with food. Joann had thrown a terrific salad together, as well as cooking wide spinnach noodles with a nice mushroom and meatball sauce.
After eating, I just relaxed out on the deck and watched the sun go down while the others laughed and screamed and just had the greatest fun playing bingo in the living room.
Not sure what Beau thought of all that, but when it was time to head out for home, he just flew out the door and disappeared into the darkness. He was over at the car when Sue and I got there. He was tired because as soon as we pulled out of the little road down to the camp, he was crashed out on the back seat.
He didn't pop up again until we pulled into our driveway, and then he went crazy barking with joy that he was home. The Dog....
08/19/18: Our Friend Nora Comes for Dinner
Sue had asked one of her good friends, Nora, to come up for an early dinner with us Sunday. We hadn't seen her in quite awhile, so it was great catching up with her.
Turns out she's planning on retiring next year, and moving out to Arizona. She'll be close to a cousin there, and both her daughter and son said they'd like to move out there with her as well. Gad, if I was her, I'd already be on the road....
While I fixed dinner, the two of them sat out on the screen porch and chatted. After dinner, Sue served up a spectacular coconut and cardamom infused ice cream that she had made early that morning. She had scoops of that over a coconut layer cake I had picked up at the store when I had gone shopping.
But with all the activity of the last few days, both Sue and I were so tired that we just trudged up to bed after Nora left, and slept really soundly. Gee, I didn't even get up until 8:30 Monday morning!
08/20/18: Beau's 4th Birthday!
Well, today, Monday 08/20/18, is Beau's 4th Birthday. We celebrated it with him on the floor of the kitchen as he tried to figure out how to get treats out of the toy Sue had bought for him.
Beau playing with his 4th birthday present.
08/23/18: K9 Nose Work Classes for Beau
Thursday evening 08/23/18 Sue and I took Beau over to Paws To Train in Gonic, NH for his first K9 Nose Work class.
K9 Nose Work is a sport that tests a dog's ability to use their powerful sense of smell to locate a specific odor against the backdrop of many others. Because the part of a dog's brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is 40 times greater than ours, it creates a tremendouse mental exercise for them. And most important for us with a mini Australian Shephard known for their need to keep busy, K9 Nose Work is a terrific exercise to give Beau "something to do", advice about the breed we've heard from many sources.
Well, it certainly does give him something to do! He was beat by the time class was over, and just clumped on the back seat of the car on the ride home. We even stopped off for ice cream at Golick's Dairy Bar in Rochester on the way, and Beau was pretty uninterested in not only the stop, but he really wasn't even interested in licking the bottom of Sue's dish. That's a tired pup!
You could probaly learn how to teach this to a dog by reading a book or watching videos, but, like anything else in life, nothing beats working with an in person instructor who knows what they're doing. Quite a few times, our instructor made comments that were so helpful for us, and there's no way this type of inforamtion would have been conveyed in a video.
08/24/18: Yard Work and Visit With Friends
Well, it's been off and on rain, hot, and really chilly in the evenings now for the last week. Today, Friday, though, was predicted to be clear and warm, so a good opportunity to get the grass cut.
Because the nights have been so cool, down in the 50s, the dew on the grass has been heavy; not good for mowing, and creates a lot of raking up of clumped cuttings. So, we went out and did food shopping in the morning, and I jumped on the Cub Cadet around noon before it got too hot.
The cut went really smoothly, but it got really hot out by the time I washed the machine down and did some trimming. I couldn't wait to end that, and get showered up and cooled off!
Leaving Beau behind to howl indignantly for a short time, we drove the short distance down to our friends Jen and Butch's land. They had finally got the bones of their barn built, and were up finalizing some tasks readying the site for Jen's son's wedding that would be held tomorrow, Saturday, in a large tent they had erected in the future horse pasture.
They will be constructing their house on a broad low ridge just above where the tent was set up. It's a spectacular view across the wooded expanse of New Durham, and they'll have some views of Merrymeeting Lake in the distance.
View from where Jen and Butch will build their new home.
We helped them put together a sign Jen had made so folks would know where to turn in for the wedding. I provided a couple extra hands for Butch as he screwed it onto a hanging wooden frame. The frame itself hung from an armed post driven into the rocky ground at the newly constructed driveway entrance to the 48 acre property.
After getting back home, we sat out on the porch, sipped some wine while playing a few sets of backgammon, and then had a great pizza for dinner as the sun began to drop toward the tree line.
08/25/18: Mushroom Identification Class
Sue and I drove over to Moore Farm in Alton Saturday morning 08/25/18 to take a mushroom identification and foraging class. Sue knows Kim of Moore Farm, and learned about the class on one of her visits over there.
When we got there at 10:00 am, we were glad to see that our friend Cathy was able to join us with the small group assembled. Paul Lewis, our instructor, was so descriptive of how you identify mushrooms, and of the medicinal qualities many of them had, as well as those that were either inedible or poisonous.
After spending well over an hour hunched over the table going through the specifics of identification, we all paraded out into the woods behind Kim's shop. Paul led the way, constantly pointing out different mushrooms for us to check out. Most times, he'd stop and discuss the particular characteristics of one, comparing it to some of the previous types we had come across.
We didn't get out of the woods until almost 1:30, about an hour and a half longer than the class was supposed to have bee. But everyone had so many questions, and were having so much fun, the time just slipped away.
08/25/18: Continuing the Day With Friends For Dinner
After we got back home from the class, and then Sue got back from taking Beau on their little mushroom exploration, we just sat out on the porch enjoying the late afternoon slight breeze that came rustling through the trees. We had invited our friends Rick and Linda over for an early dinner, and they arrived around 4:30.
Rick has been a karate student and disciple of mine for well over 20 years, and because of his chaotic work schedule and absorption in all sorts of dog training classes and shows, I haven't seen much of him since Sue and I moved up on the mountain here. Both he and Linda had been regulars at our almost monthly backgammon dinner parties when we lived in Dover.
We had a great time just chatting about all of their activities with the dogs; not sure how they have time for anything else. In fact, the early dinner was set up because they had to have the dogs up in Meredith, NH at 9:00 am the next morning for a show.
Based on some of the classes that they got their dogs involved with was part of the motivation that we decided to run Beau through this K9 Nose Work class that we had just started him in. It was interesting to hear them sort of lay out the framework of the class, and how that sort of training could blend well into other work.
Around 5:30 I went into the kitchen to get on with dinner preparation work. The key ingredient was Black Trumpet mushrooms that we had picked. I used the recipe we had liked so much on the 14th: I sauteed them in a rich sauce of fresh sage from our garden and infused into butter with paprika, ground black pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes served over a bed of ravioli. For desert, Sue served up a terrific peach pie that she had made earlier that morning, covered, of course, with a couple of scoops of ice cream. We were all stuffed, but happy!
08/26/18: Kayaking and Mushroom Feast!
So, off Sue went into the woods with Beau to forage for more Old Man of The Woods. There weren't enough of them from our class, and so she took Beau out to find more.
Not only did she find some, but she brought back several Crown-tipped coral mushrooms, a coral shaped variety. So, that was going to be dinner!
After Sue got a small snack lunch packed for us, we loaded the kayaks onto the car and headed out to try Rollins Pond in Gilmington. We had seen it on one of our drives and thought it looked like a nice area to explore.
There were only a couple of others on the small pond, but that didn't matter because it's such a beautiful location. We were out there for a couple of hours, and enjoyed it fully. Though it's about a half hour from the house, we both agreed that it was well worth the trip, and we'd for sure do it again.
After we got back home, and cleaned up, Sue sauteed the mushrooms up in a butter, Oregano, and garlic sauce on the stove. Meanwhile, I was outside grilling up both corn on the cob and cut up cauliflower drenched in garlic oil and paprika.
Sue's mushroom find for dinner.
09/01/18: Sue Off to Rhode Island for Labor Day
Sue headed off to visit Jill in Rhode Island Saturday morning 09/01/18. Beau and I held up under the pressure until she returned on Monday.
The temperature was brutal every day. I didn't feel like even going outside as the humidity was so bad. But I did go out with Beau for a quick walk up around the back of the house through the woods on Sunday afternoon. I snapped this picture from the tree house of him looking up at me, and the other one of the back of the house.
It was just too hot to take Beau with me shopping Monday morning as the car would have been a coffin. And it was. I didn't have a lot to get in the store, but when I got back into the car it seemed like an oven.
Sue got back in the early afternoon. While she got unpacked and caught up with some things, I got a lot of the prep work for dinner done. I wanted to have an hour or so before I had to start cooking to just sit on the porch, play some backgammon, and sip the BV Cabernet that I had opened.
For dinner, I fixed a few things. First, I used a new recipe for mushroom risotto I had found. I wanted to incorporate some of the Black Trumpet mushrooms that Sue had gathered in the woods last week. So that I didn't use up too many of them, as we want to save them for this winter, I had bought a box of Shiitake mushrooms as well.
The main course was pork chops rubbed down with a mixture of sage and rosemary from Sue's garden along with oregano, thyme, and parsley. Before cooking the chops, I sauteed carrots, onions, and sweet red pepper strips in some of the herbs. Everything came out just super, and it was the best risotto I've done yet.
It was an early evening for Sue, though. She was really beat from not only the heat, but the long drive in holiday traffic, though that wasn't too bad as she was going against the main traffic flow. It's still a long way, and that just drains you. She slept really, really good for sure!
09/03/18: Off For Ice Cream!
Though not as hot as it has been, it was still really humid on Tuesday. I suggested to Sue that we should just go out and take a drive. She had some things that she wanted to do at home, though, but suggested that a short ride down to the ice cream stand was in order!
We stuffed Beau into the car, and off we went. But tooooooo much ice cream, and we both got the "kiddy" size! Man, that just slowed me right down....
We drove over to one of the area's small ponds, let Beau out to run around, and just casually slurped our quickly melting ice cream down.
And it's so wonderful that we're able to do things like this now that we're retired. No one was around, it was peaceful, and we had a lovely time - just because we could!
09/05/18: More Teeth Out For Poor Beau Dog
When we had Beau in to the Alton Veterinary Clinic last time to have 2 badly damaged teeth removed, the doctor saw another one that had cracked. She suggested that it be removed also at some point.
We've just had so much going on since then that we had to wait until now. I ran him over there this morning, a bright and sunny Wednesday, and got the call around 1:00 pm that he was fine. Unfortunately, some dogs just have dental problems, and that was the case with Beau. They found a tooth that had decayed severely, and the doctor took that one out as well.
Poor guy, he was still circling the rim a little from all the druuuuuugs when I picked him up around 4:00 pm. He seemed happy, though, and by Thursday he was eating up his softened food just fine.
09/06/18: Antiquing Explore!
She had heard about an antique shop in Northwood that she thought would be interesting to see, and so we headed out around 10:00 am on Thursday to see if we could find it.
Unfortunately when we got there, the sign said they were only open on weekends. Not to waste a beautiful day, we decided just to take the long way home. We actually stopped off at a couple of other shops along Route 4. Though lots of nice things, nothing grabed our attention, and so we just came back home.
As we drove along, we could see some pretty ominous black clouds rolling across the sky to the northwest. The weather report was for possible severe thunder showers around 2:00 pm, but it looked like we'd be driving into something soon, and it was only around 1:15 pm.
Sure enough, by the time we got just a little way along Route 28 it hit. The heavens just opened up and dumped water by the bucketful with thunder and lightening as well. Though a really hard rain, it never got to the point where you couldn't see anything or had to get off to the side of the road. But it was bad enough that all traffic slowed way, way down.
Beau was not impressed with the whole thing when we got home, and stayed pretty close to Sue for the rest of the afternoon.
09/07/18: Pine Mountain Hike
Friday morning was so brisk and sunny that Sue suggested we take Beau for a short hike up Pine Mountain in Alton. It was so nice walking up the trail through the rich greens of the woods.
When we got to the top, the Belknap mountains in the distance were just a little hazy from the air and ground temperature differential as the sun began to warm the air. We sat on the rocks at the top while Beau romped around. We were glad to see that he didn't appear to be in any discomfort from the dental surgery the other day.
By the time we headed down, the temps had come up enough that I took off the flannel shirt I had put on over my tee shirt. Beau was still all fired up and running around by the car that Sue suggested we walk a ways down the Alton Woods Trail so he could blow off a little more steam.
It was pretty cute because every time he'd get too far ahead and Sue was stooped over examining some mushroom or plant, he'd come flying back down the trail wondering what was going on. He's pretty damn cute, bouncing around like that.
When we got home, the grass had dried out enough that I decided to get it cut. We were planning on kayaking the next day, Saturday, and so I knew I wouldn't want to do it then. It was an easy cut as the grass hadn't grown up too much in the pretty severe heat that we've had over the last week. I suspect if I hadn't cut it then, that the heavy rain from the day before would have caused it to sprout way up and then it would have been a mess.
Though it got quite chilly later in the afternoon, Sue and I still played a few sets of backgammon out on the porch, and then had a pizza before going inside to watch some tv. We were both pretty tired, and after just a few shows called it a night and a day.
09/07/18: Blueberry Picking and Setting Headstone
It must have been down in the low 50s overnight, and when we got up Saturday morning it was overcast, and there was a fairly brisk chilly breeze that just didn't seem like good kayaking weather. Pass.
After Sue got back from taking Beau for a little walk in the woods, she directed my efforts at trimming some of the bushes around the house that had gotten just a little out of control. But it was still long pants and long sleeve shirt weather.
What a contrast to the 90 degree days we had the week before! It had been so hot and humid that all I wanted to do was nothing! And now, we're looking at each other thinking that if tonight's weather prediction for temperatures in the low 40s occurred, then it just might call for a fire in the wood stove here pretty soon!
Sue wanted to drive over to Butternut Farm and pick late blueberries, and to check some things out at Home Depot, but when I went to start the car, the battery was dead. I think I had left the rear door ajar just enough overnight to flatten it. We took her car, and when we got back, I hooked the cables up and ran the engine for about 30 minutes while we cleaned up some brush from the trimming.
While we were out shopping, Sue's brother Alan called and asked if we could make it up to the cemetery where their mom was buried. We had been trying to get everyone together to lay the headstone they had gotten for the grave.
So, after we finished up in the yard, we stuffed Beau in the back seat of Sue's car and off to Effingham, NH we went. There were quite a few family that were able to make it to the cemetery, and it was wonderful to see everyone. Everyone had a turn at digging out the topsoil over the grave for the headstone, and helping in putting it into place.
Sue's brother Alan watching her clear out the headstone area.
Everyone gathered around the just placed headstone.
Alan and Sue by their mom's grave.
After cleaning up the area around the grave, everyone went over Alan and Joann's for way, way too much pizza and snacks. Beau was a little over stimulated from not only everyone being there, but the little ones dashing all over the place. He just collapsed in a heap in the back seat on the drive home.
09/09/18: Hike up Blue Job Mountain, And First Fire of the Season
After Sue fixed up some marvelous blueberry and einkorn flour pancakes from scratch using blueberries that we had picked yesterday, we loaded Beau into the car.
It had been down to the low 40s last night, and we thought we'd take advantage of the crisp morning air to hike up Blue Job. It was so beautiful up there, a bright and warming sun with just the faintest cool breeze. But even with the cool air Sue took her fleece jacket off and I unbuttoned my flannel shirt as it was just warm enough to shed some layers.
After dropping Beau off at home, we headed to the store to do some grocery shopping. Well, we started to head out in my car, but the battery was dead again. I don't think that my charging it just stationary yesterday was sufficient. Regardless, I think I'll take it in and have a new battery put in for the winter as that's the last thing I need to worry about is having a battery flat line on me in a snowstorm....
And speaking of winter, as the afternoon wore on it got really chilly. We've been playing backgammon in the living room now for the last week because it's just been a little too raw to sit out on the porch. But it had cooled off so much by late afternoon that inside was not comfortable.
This is September, and it was harsh enough to get the wood stove fired up for the first time this season. In September! That's not even the start of the season for that! But it was just to cool to sit comfortably in the living room. That fire was really nice to have going, though.
I got a late start to organizing myself for dinner prep. Fortunately, not much to do other than get some garlic and fresh basil from the garden chopped. While I was doing that, Sue shucked the fresh farm corn that we had bought, cut up 5 sweet potatoes into quarters, and got that all cooking. Actually, some of the sweet potato was for Beau as he's not supposed to have anything really hard for the next few days because of the teeth he had removed.
I sauteed cut up chicken pieces in butter and olive oil after letting the meat marinate in a garlic, oregano, and black pepper rub. After removing them to a separate holding bowl, I cooked more garlic, and 6 ounces of mushrooms in a butter and oil base until everything softened up. As I threw some flour in, I kept adding milk, and the fresh basil. The trick was to keep whisking as it thickened until I had a nice sauce to add the chicken back into. Turned out just great! Another successful Sunday dinner adventure.
After dinner, I threw another couple of logs into the wood stove, and we settled in to watch a movie - which turned out to be so awful that I shut it off, and put another one in.
09/16/18: Kayaking Salmon Falls River
Sunday afternoon, Sue and I loaded the kayaks on top of my car and headed over to the Salmon Falls River Reservoir in Acton, ME. We parked at the dam, and were on the water by just after 1:00 pm.
It's unfortunate, but the river has become fairly overgrown which means we couldn't gunk-hole along the shore. We saw quite a few blue herons which was nice, but other than that, it was just a relaxing couple of hours on the water.
09/17/18: Mia Gymnastics Class
Sue and I went down to Dover and met up with Marissa and Mia at Atlantic Gymnastics. It was Mia's second class of this session and we hadn't seen her training last year or during the summer camp Marissa sent her to. She was all smiles, listened to the coach, and worked hard at what she was asked to do. Lots of fun, and we were glad that we could share that with her.
09/18/18: $5 Burgers at The 99
Okay, so we just couldn't pass up the $5 burgers at The 99 Restaurant in Dover. We waited to head out until around 1:30 pm as it had been raining pretty steadly since last night from the after effects of Hurricane Florence hitting the Carolina coast this past weekend. And, yes, the burgers were mah-vo-louse....
Before we left, we got some cute pictures of Mia at her first day of pre-school. She looks all set to hit it, doesn't she!
09/20/18: Pine Mountain Hike and K9 Nose Work Class
Thursday 09/20/18 was such a beautiful day after the storm effects from Hurricane Florence had blown around us that we decided to take Beau on a hike up Pine Mountain.
When we got to the top, dark clouds rolled across the sky in the distance throwing shadows across the nearby hills and lake. We were surprised, however, that there really wasn't much of a breeze so it wasn't even chilly on top.
Later that evening we drove down to Paws To Train to put Beau through his 3rd K9 Nose Work class. As soon as we drove around back of the mill building where it was, Beau knew exactly what was going on because he couldn't wait to get out of the car. Just too damn smart....
He did really well with the tasks he was given despite the distrations of the other dogs and smells - we had the class outside in the grass next to the building. I'm glad that Sue has worked a few times with him inside doing some of the exercises as I'm sure that's helped him.
09/21/18: Sue And Cathy Off to Fair in Unity, ME
Sue and I took Beau for a short walk in the woods Friday morning before our friend Cathy arrived. They were headed off for the weekend to the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, ME, about a 3 and a half hour drive.
I got a text message from Sue when they got to the cabin they were staying in. Unfortunately, Beau had become sick and thrown up several times, so she was concerned about him. Not sure what he had gotten into, but he was not feeling good at all. He's so smart, though, that he came and got me when he knew he was going to throw up. We'd make a mad dash for the door, but then he'd come back, ears flopping as he pranced out of the woods.
I had planned to go visit Marissa this evening, but had to call and cancel because I was worried about Beau. So, he and I just parked it in the living room and watched the 1989 movie, Dealers. I had one emergency Beau run at 1:00 am, but other than that, he seemed fine when I got up. I cooked up some bland rice for him, and he ate that down pretty good, so I gave him a little more mixed in with some of his other food. Didn't want to give him too much too soon.
09/22/18: To Marissa's For Pizza, Beer, and Scary Movie
Since Beau was feeling fine by Saturday afternoon, I headed over to Marissa's as I had planned for last night. Poor little Mia was having some allergy problems, and so wasn't feeling well at all. Marissa put her to bed shortly after I got there at 5:30.
She, Gary, Ricky, and I had a beer in the kitchen and just chatted for awhile until the pizza came. Gary headed off somewhere with Ricky after dinner as he has a very low tolerance for scary movies.
But Marissa and I thrive on them. We used to watch them together all the time when she lived with me in Dover. Yeah, it's our special thing.... And the movie she chose, the fairly well done 2017, The Ritual.
09/28/18: Hiking At Coldrain Pond
We stuffed Beau into the car Friday afternoon 09/28/18 and drove over to Coldrain Pond over off Brackett Road. This was the first time that I had been here, and it's such a pretty hike down to the pond from the parking area.
After taking a couple of pictures of the just now turning fall leaves, Sue crashed through the bushes along the shore showing us some other neat spots. She was actually looking for the other trail that led down to the water, but somehow missed it. We ended up scrambling through the woods in pretty deep brush and trees for quite awhile before coming out onto the Coldrain Pond Trail itself.
After getting back home, I started a nice warming fire in the wood stove. We just relaxed over some backgammon before having dinner, and ended the evening watching what we thought was a really good movie, the 2018 Adrift. The film's cinematography just couldn't have been any better. Though we really enjoyed it, a lot of the reviews panned it as soapy and not technically correct. It's a true story that I think the film folks had to spruce up story-wise to make a movie of it, so that's probably what all the negative reviews were about. But we just thought it was a really well done and captivating movie.
09/29/18: Apple Picking and Furnace Disaster
Late Saturday afternoon 09/29/18 Sue and I drove over to Butternut Farm. We went there to do some apple picking to kick off the Fall season!
It was a beautiful day, and we stopped a couple of places along the way just to check out the views. In fact, it was so nice that I got a little warm walking around grabbing apples. Perfect!
So, we get back home and are having a nice afternoon when I heard this strange clicking noise coming from the furnace. And then, BOOM! Something lets go, there's the sound of rushing water, and the whole downstairs fills up with steam. It was so thick I couldn't even see a foot in front of me in the basement as my plumber, Darren Powers, talked me through on the phone how to shut the furnace down, and which valve to turn to get the water to stop. Man! What a mess....
Darren was such a help to me. Though he had been up since early that morning working a job when I reached him at around 7:00 pm, he came over as soon as he could around 9:00 pm and worked on stabilizing things until about 10:30 pm.
The furnace electrical control system failed, overheated, and blew out one of the plastic hot water heating loop coils. Good thing we were home and I was able to shut off the furnace and water or things would have been inordinately worse. Darren said he'd be back Monday to install a new electrical control panel.
09/30/18: Car Problems....
Well, it appears that watching Adrift was the only good thing that's going to happen this weekend. First it's the furnace disaster yesterday, and now on Sunday, a car break down....
Sue and I decided to take Beau on a couple hour drive to see some of the just starting fall foliage. We were on all the back roads over in the Barnstead area when we saw that Province Road would take us over to Bow Lake. Nice, as that was one of our destinations. However, Province Road turned into a gravel road, and then a pretty rough gravel road before we saw a sign that said "Road Not Town Maintained".
Now, we've seen plenty of those types of roads, and have been on a lot of them. Though tough, they're all usually passable. Well, this one deteriorated very quickly into more of a washed out logging road, and we got stuck. We thought we were going to have to hike out, but a couple of trucks showed up that could make it, and they helped push us out and get turned around. Saved our asses totally because we were literally in the middle of nowhere.....
So, after that hour of fun, we looped around and did arrive at Bow Lake, actually picking up Province Road again just about 300 yards from where we had gotten stuck. Even after getting pushed out of where we had been stuck, we wouldn't have made it through there anyway. The continuation of Province road was fine, even turning to pavement.
Sue and I were both sighing with relief as we drove along the shore as we would have been so screwed had those folks not come along to push us out. And then, as I was backing the car out of a side road to turn around, there was a horrible banging sound and metal grinding on metal. I just barely got the car pulled over to the side of the road, not even being able to turn the wheel.
We were officially done. Looked like we had busted a tie rod, so called AAA at around 1:15 for a tow. They estimated arrival in 45 minutes, but got a call from them at 2:00 that had to use another service rep and it wouldn't be until 3:00 before they could get there. So, we sat there on the side of the road for a total of 2 hours until Joe from Kruczek's Garage & Towing in Newmarket, NH made it over. He was great, and got the car loaded up onto the carrier quickly. I had called Colin about all this, and he said to have it towed to where he works in Dover.
Beau trying to be patient waiting in the car Sunday 09/30/18 for the tow truck to arrive. You can see the wrecked right front wheel.
On the way, Sue called her friend Jen, and she and Butch picked us up and drove us home. We didn't get in until 4:30 pm - a long, long day. I got a fire going in the wood stove to take the chill out of the air, we had a bite to eat, and just blended into the sofas for some mindless tv.