2013 Rose Family Events Archives...
      For current events, go to the Rose family website page.

For current events, go to the Rose Family Website page.

01/01/13: New Year's Day
I put the Rose Parade on for background while Sue and I just sort of hung out most of the day. After many sets of backgammon, we just had leftovers for dinner and watched the 2011 movie 7 Days In Utopia.

01/05/13: The Great 2013 Three Year Hip Replacement Ordeal Memorial Backgammon Tournament And New Year Celebration!
There were 8 of us who got together Saturday Jan 05 to celebrate The Great 2013 Three Year Hip Replacement Ordeal Memorial Backgammon Tournament And New Year Celebration..

Sue and I battled it out for counter space for awhile before folks started to arrive to get a jump on food prep so that we could actually play some backgammon. Current Picture Tony was the first to arrive and he and I sat down and played a couple of games while Sue finished up some things she was working on.

For snacks, Sue made a cream cheese, chive, and pepper jelly marmalade dip, and then a super good batch of Limoncello infused iced cupcakes for desert. For dinner, I fixed a highly doctored version of a Sicillian caponata: I used garlic and thyme sauted zucchini instead of the standard eggplant (mostly because I don't really care that much for eggplant), and mixed that in with some chicken initially stir fried with some onion, garlic, and oragano. There was also sherry and some white wine in there along with a few other things. And it turned out just great!

The movie of the night was the 1993 Cliffhanger.

01/10/13: Flu vs cold/virus and flu shot complication frozen shoulder
With all the flu going around and learning of complications from the flu shot, I sent the following note out:

In light of all the concern about increasing reports of flu, I saw an interesting video on CNN the other day where the doctor said that the way you tell the difference between a cold or virus and the actual flu is that if you start feeling crummy and this gets worse over a few days then it's most likely a cold. However, if you are fine one day and then the next you are horribly sick, then that is most likely the flu; the flu just hits really fast and really hard.

All the doctors I know are recommending flu shots. However, be advised that there is a known complication called 'frozen shoulder' that can occur. It appears that the vaccine is being injected into the joint capsule or bursa and, in some folks, causing an overactive immune-mediated inflammatory response. This could also be caused by the nurse jamming the needle too hard directly into this muscle.

This happened to Sue last year and she continues to be in agony a year later, with prognosis of a '... 6 month to 2 year recovery period'. In addition, I have noticed pain of the type she is experiencing in the same shoulder that I got my shot in last year, though no where near as great as hers has been. We both got our shots at the same time from the same place.

Sue was not going to get a shot this year until she found that, if requested, you can have this shot delivered via a less penetrating needle into the skin vs. the shoulder muscle itself. Though still suffering from last year's event, there were no additional ramifications from this year's shot delivered in this manner, so worth looking into, particularly if you fall into the category of a 40 to 60 year old woman, as indicated below.

Note that frozen shoulder itself is not limited to athletic injury. There is compelling evidence that frozen shoulder affects patients between the ages of 40 to 60 years old, and it is twice as common in women than in men.

01/11/13: Hackers Are Out To Trick Your Friends
I just sent out the following general warning as I found that my email address had been hacked:

Please don't open any email from [my email address which I'm not going to show!] in the 'From' field. My emails always will display 'Peter Rose' in this field. I'm receiving numerous spam emails now a day where the From field is my email address.

It is easy for a hacker to capture your email address and then turn it around to make it look like the emails that they are sending are really from you. Don't be fooled! Everyone should have a specific From designation that we all know that is different than your email address itself.

Don't even use your email id (like mine is zzrose) because this is easily stripped off of an email address. If your email address is something like bob.smith@abcdef.org, then be sure your From text is not bob.smith but change it to Robert Smith, or even Bob Smith.

Just so you know, if I receive an email from anyone with a suspicious From, or if there is no subject or a stupid subject title then I don't even open it. You would be surprised how many emails get opened with no subject. It's a hacker's trick to get you to open that email. If your browser has display images on then it will try to load the picture when you open the email. Hackers can hide attack code that could execute when the browser tries to display that picture. Just shut this off in your browser. If you get legit pictures, you can just tell the email program to show slideshow or something to see the picture.

And no matter who sends you an embedded link in an email - don't click on it until you are sure it will take you where it says it's going to take you. Sorry for the hand-holding seeming email, but you don't want to get hit....

Update: it appears that full names vs your email address only are appearing more in the From field; just got a third one like that in the last few days. You just have to be careful. I suppose one of these days we'll all need to use digitally signed emails to trust what's going on....

01/11/13: Dinner, Theater, and Into the Weekend
Sue and I drove down to Portsmouth, parked down by Prescott Park, and walked over to The State Street Saloon for a casual dinner. It hadn't been but a year, I think, that I had last been there. I had taken Marissa there for dinner and we both had the State Street Chicken, just a marvelous dish that I have enjoyed for over 20 years - originally called Tony's Chicken after a previous owner Tony Catalino, who I knew very casually years before.

Anyway, I was so disappointed to find the dish changed. It was just okay; bland, nothing to shout about and I will not order it again. Sue's meal was fine, but not worth the $16 price tag. Sure, this is Portsmouth, and you have to expect high prices. But there as so very many restaurants in Portsmouth that a place simply cannot afford to have only 'good' food. You better have really good food.

Unfortunately, we did not find our meal to be compelling enough to go back right away. There were several new places we passed up for here because I had raved to Sue about the chicken dishes. Having said that, however, I would encourage anyone looking for a casual meal with a little effort at trying to make the dish special to try here. I think the food is better and more fairly priced than, for example, The Common Man, just down the street, or even the more upscale Brazo and the Islington Street restaurant The District.

We had 8:00pm tickets to the Players Ring for the local production of How I Learned To Drive. We had heard that it might sleet later that night, so I hadn't wanted to park too far away from the theater; the weather was misty walking to the restaurant and then down to the theater. It wasn't that bad after, but walking around in Portsmouth with the wind howling off the river in winter is something you try to avoid if you can if the weather is predicted to be crummy. Sorry, but though Sue like it, I personally thought the play was miserable. Oh, the actors were fine and I suppose the play was written okay. But I want to be entertained when I go out to see a movie or play, not hammered with the horrible realities of some parts of life.

Saturday morning I did forex analysis and research while Sue took care of some things she had. After lunch, I replaced both computer surge protectors and then unsuccessfully tried to install a new network router. The directions were 6 simple steps. Really? Then why can't my browser connect as part of the 6th step? They just make the assumption that the browser will come up and then you're supposed to be fine. Well, it wasn't fine and after getting more aggravated than I care to: I jerked the thing out and replaced it with the old one.

After reading for a little while, Sue and I grabbed glasses of wine and headed into the living room to play several sets of backgammon and chat. We just had leftovers for dinner and then watched the 2011 action filled but confusing true story movie, Killer Elite.

Sunday 01/13 early afternoon in a dense fog - which was so pretty - we headed over to the Market Basket in Lee, NH to do our food shopping for the big event tonight: Spaghetti Bolognese over hand made pasta. Yup, both Sue and I have Current Picture wanted to try to make our own pasta for a long time and we just decided that tonight would be a great time to try.

With a nice glass of 2009 Big Vine Cabernet, I started the sauce prep (also from scratch) while Sue got the pasta dough ready. While the sauce simmered and the dough sat to cure, or whatever it does..., we had another glass of wine while we played out about 4 sets of backgammon.

I'll tell you what, though: even after switching out, our arms were really sore after kneading out that dough and then cutting out the strips of pasta. Oh, it was fun, and I'd like to give it a try again, but I'm not sure I'd make this a regular process. It's really pretty labor intensive without all the fancy equipment available. But if you have all that stuff, then where's the difference in just getting a good box of pasta and using that? Let's see: 10 minutes of no effort vs. over an hour of pretty significant effort with no real difference in the end result - a plate of pasta that basically has no flavor other than what permeates it from the sauce.....

We finished off the night with the enormously entertaining 2007 movie, Dan In Real Life, even watching the little feature on the disk as to how they made the movie. Just a really well done movie.

01/19/13: Saturday Dinner Party With Nancarrows
Sue and I had Jim and Chris Nancarrow over for dinner Saturday 01/19. We had been talking for ever about getting together to see the full set of pictures Sue had taken during our July 2011 trip out to New Mexico.

01/25/13: Friday Dinner and Players Ring For The Odd Couple
Friday evening after Sue got home from work, we drove down to Portsmouth and parked down by Prescott Park. We had tickets at the Players Ring theater close by for the classic Neil Simon play, The Odd Couple.

It had been very windy for days and bitter cold. Not unlike the last time we came down! We bundled up and made a short dash to Agave Mexican Bistro for dinner. Interesting waterfall feature behind the upstairs bar that facinated me. I kept saying, "We need someting like that...." But then, we already have a water fountian in the entry way of the condo, so something else like that would be overkill. But, I really liked it.

Sue decided to have them fix her a lime, coconut margarita. She wanted to compare that to the one she liked so much at another local Mexican restaurant, Margaritas, as well as to her own failed attempt to duplicate that at home during the The Great 2013 Three Year Hip Replacement Ordeal Memorial Backgammon Tournament And New Year Celebration!. Though she really liked it, she wants a re-tasting at Margaritas.

Dinner was good, and filling. The walk over to the Players Ring was brisk, but welcome after the heavy meal. And what a wonderful production! I just love that play. And the actors of the Players Ring did an outstanding job. It was a really enjoyable evening, and a terrific start to the weekend.

01/26/13: A Slow, Comfortable Weekend
Saturday, Sue and I both just poked along with our projects and enjoyed the morning. After lunch, we drove over to the Town Hall Road side of Kingman Farm and walked through the woods. It was a little slippery in places from where the snow had melted a little and then frozn over.

I read for a little while after we got back until Sue finished up her stuff. Then I poured out some red wine and we relaxed with several sets of backgammon. Dinner was the leftover homemade pasta and spaghetti, and then after deciding that the movie we had selected was just too stupid to watch, we did a couple of hours of Centennial. What a great series that is. Sue commented, "What are you going to do when this is over in another few episodes?" Good question. It's such a great story.

Sunday we headed out about 1:00pm with the intent of going for a walk before shopping. But as I stood next to the car while filling it up with gas at the Irving station on Rt. 155, I changed my mind as the wind just about froze my face off. Nope. We passed that up and drove over to the Lee Circle to the Market Basket there. I had just had an urge to take the little more secenic drive out there to do the shopping than close by.

It took us not only a little longer shopping, but then we decided to stop and check out an antique shop just down the road from the store. When we got home and unpacked the food, Sue decided she just couldn't get through the day without a walk, so off she went for about 20 minutes. I was beat, and just parked it on the sofa until she came back.

By then it was time to start with food prep. I had decided to fix Morrocan chicken thighs with all kinds of spices and herbs mixed in with apricots, shalots, garlic, cilantro, and sherry. Along with a cilantro and curry basmatti rice base for the chicken that I made, Sue baked some squash as a side. While that all baked in the oven, we sipped some of the Pinot Noir that I had opened and played some backgammon. The movie of the night was the really interesting historical blues concert Lightning in a Bottle.

02/02/13: Glassblowing Class
Saturday 02/02/13 after lunch, Sue and I drove over to East Kingston, NH to Ridabock Glass. Sue had signed us up for a 2 hour introduction to glassblowing with Pete Ridabock, and it was really a lot of fun.

After a really informative introduction to glassblowing explaining some of the basic physical movements and mechanics that are employed, Pete and his assistant Current Picture Brad took us through a couple of test dry runs of the full process.

We started out for real by each being guided through the process of making a small paperweight. Then, after a little more detailed coaching, we were taken through the process of making a small juice glass.

This was an amazing experience, and we're both glad that we had the opportunity of participating with a master craftsman. It's no wonder that it took the full 2 hours to make these very simple items. We walked away with a great appreciation of these artisan's skills in creating such beautiful art.

After leaving Ridabock, Sue and I stopped off for an early dinner at Margaritas in Exeter, NH. Sue had wanted to compare their coconut and lime margarita to their branch in Portsmouth. And, we were in the mood for some Mexican food.

Sunday during the morning we did some cleaning and lanudry and then headed off food shopping. We wanted to get back early enough to play some backgammon and enjoy the bottle of 2009 Alpataco Pinot Noir, an Argentinian wine that I had got at The Meat House in Portsmouth during the week when I went down to get the organic pork chops that I planned for this dinner. We finished off the night with enjoyable 2011 Anne Hathaway movie One Day.

02/07/13: Thursday Morning Moon Possibly Foreshadowing Storm
Sue took this picture of the morning moon. We're expecting a huge Nor'easter to be hitting sometime tomorrow, and this slight sliver of the Current Picture moon just seems to be heralding its arrival.

The word is for the storm to start moving across our area late tonight and then intensify all the way through early Saturday morning.

We'll lay in some supplies and hope the power doesn't go out so we can at least watch movies after Sue gets out of work tomorrow!

This will be the first real test of the effectiveness of last Fall's PSNH tree cutting along the roads. It finally dawned on them that folks were pretty tired of having the power going out all the time because it was cheaper for them to throw a gazillion forces to a clean up after storms than to be proactive and cut all the potential limbs down ahead of storms.

Good thing Colin asked me to bring my car up to him for an oil change and general service today rather than tomorrow!

02/09/13: Record Breaking Winter Nor'easter
Well, Saturday 02/09/13 set quite a few records for sever winter Nor'easters. Check out the detail page for the whole weekend's activity! We got about 20 inches overall in the Dover area, but the view from out of the library window is 5 feet all around. We have snow drifts and plow piles almost bigger than the garage roofs. Amazing storm. Current Picture

The storm was so bad over the entire East Coast that MA, CT, and RI all basically shut down, even banning travel by car on the main roads and highways. That's how bad it was.

The storm started in the early morning hours Friday 02/08. By the time we got up, there was already several inches down. But the news and weather services said that things were going to get really bad as the day went on. As a precaution, most work places let everyone out around noon.

When we woke up Saturday morning 02/09, things were a real mess. The storm had dumped so much snow that going out would have been totally impossible. The wind must have had 55mph to 60mph in gusts at times. This just blew snow all over the place into close to white-out conditions. We couldn't imagine what it must have been like out on the roads.

We spent a couple hours sipping coffee and just glued to the tv, watching the destructive power of the storm. Truly amazing.... We spent the latter part of the morning working on projects until we couldn't take it anymore. We just wanted to get out into it all!

02/13/13: Early Valentine's Day
Since I'd be busy Thursday evening, we celebrated Valentine's Day Wednesday. I fixed pork chops and scallions in a garlic, sherry, and port wine reduction with a side of thyme steamed Brussels sprouts. I had bought a bottle of Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot that was quite good with the meal. We sipped on that for awhile before dinner as we played a couple of sets of backgammon. Just a nice quiet evening together with a warming fire going in the fire place.

02/15/13: Dinner and Theater With Nancarrows
Sue and I had wanted to get together with the Nancarrows for dinner before they left for their new home in Florida in March. They met us at our place and we drove into Portsmouth for an early dinner at The Oar House on Ceres Street. We hadn't been there in a long time and neither Jim or Chris had been there at all so it was a nice time. From there, we wallked over to The Players Ring just off Prescott Park for the play Book of Snow.

02/16/13: President's Day Weekend Snow Storm
We woke up Saturday morning to the start of what would be a pretty wild weekend snow storm. It didn't really start going until really early Sunday morning, but it was very pretty looking out the library windows Saturday with the fairly steady snow that did come down.

But Sunday, wow! The wind picked up and we got four to five inches through the course of the day. We ventured out after lunch and drove down to Kittery, ME to Yankee Candle as Sue had wanted to pick up some new product. Even though the roads were a little slick and covered with blowing snow, I took the secenic route over Rt 101 down to where it comes out onto Rt. 1 by the Kittery Trading Post.

We came back home through Portsmouth, NH, stopping at Shaw's in Newington to do our food shopping for the week. The wind was so strong that the snow was being blown fully sideways as we scrambled from the car into the store. Not many folks had ventured out as we pretty much had the store to ourselves.

02/22/13: Friday Night Advanced Black Belt Dinner
Friday night 02/22/13 I hosted 3 of my 4 4th Degree Black Belt disciples for a dinner and seminar. Unfortunately, Carl Parker was unable to attend; something about being out in Alburquerque, Nem Mexico..... I'll get him caught up though.

Tim House, Jim Nancarrow, and Russ Jones came over at 6:00pm and I kept them all pretty busy until we broke things up at 9:45pm.

02/23/13: The Great 2013 Nancarrow Memorial Celebration Moving Backgammon Tournament And Dinner Party!
Because our friends Jim and Chris Nancarrow will be moving to Florida soon, we decided to create our 02/23/13 backgammon dinner party The Great 2013 Nancarrow Memorial Celebration Moving Backgammon Tournament And Dinner Party around them.

I had told everyone to come dressed half for winter and half for summer. Current Picture I probably should have just forgot about the summer thing because the huge snow storm that had battered 20 states over the last few days rolled in as the party was getting started. Perhaps a better send off could not have been arranged! I had a summer shirt and shorts mixed with boots and snowshoe gaiters.

For dinner I fixed a baked chicken pot pie and desert was a cake that Sue had ordered with a decorative scene in icing on top. Check the picture as it was done so creatively - the little car going from the white of winter at the top of the cake down along a highway to the green of Florida.

Before we started the movie of the night - the 2012 remake of original 1990 version of Total Recall - Sue showed about a 10 minute slide show presentation that she had put together from all of the old pictures of Jim and Chris that we had been able to find that either I had or others from the karate group had sent in.

03/01/13: Off To The White Mountains For Bretton Woods Snow Kite Festival
We had a beautiful drive up to The White Mountains Friday afternoon, pizza and wine for dinner, and way too much backgammon. Great fun, and very relaxing after the 2 hour trip up. Sue had done some research and had found a lovely little Current Picture cabin in the Nordic Village complex that was just perfect for our needs. It even had a glass front wood stove that we took advantage of.

Saturday 03/02/13, we drove up to Bretton Woods to the Mount Washington Hotel for the snow kite festival. Sue had always wanted to see what this was all about, and I was intrigued. The drive along Rt 302 was just spectacular - going both directions.

We got back to the cabin around 2:00pm and after a quick rest we played some backgammon before heading out to the 1785 Inn for a wonderful meal. As always, Alan waited on us and Charles Mallor, the owner, chatted with us several times.

Sunday morning after cleaning up the cabin, we stopped in at the Glen Junction Restaurant in Intervale for breakfast, drove to White Lake State Park, and Sue took a walk down to the beach area. From there, we drove down to Tamworth, NH to Sue's mom's house, and had a marvelous drive up the back roads to Sandwich, NH.

We got home around 3:00pm, and went food shopping after getting a list together. When we got back, I lit a fire in the fireplace, and we played some backgammon before dinner. And we closed out the night with the marvelous 1993 movie Sleepless In Seattle.

03/08/13: An Engaging Weekend
Friday night was the engaging part of the week for me with Sue over a very nice bottle of Merlot and a simple pizza with the snow falling lightly outside. Saturday, Sue took her Current Picture friend Nora out to lunch while I spent most of the day preparing various financial statements for one of the associations and for some financing I'm considering.

When Sue got back mid afternoon, we headed down to Portsmouth for some shopping for the upcoming St. Patrick's Day backgammon dinner party next Saturday night. From there it was off to Home Depot for a new supply of halogen bulbs - because we blew 4 of them in the last few days. And then a quick stop at WalMart to get some hangers, candles, and other WalMart type stuff.

Saturday night, I took Sue out to dinner to the first restaurant that we had gone to together: The Riverworks Tavern in Newmarket, NH. Always a good meal there. Then home for the x movie x.

Sunday we slept in. Well, that's a misstatement because the clocks went ahead an hour ("Spring forward; Fall back...", so we technically lost an hour of sleep. Regardless, let's just say that we eased into the day. After lunch we drove down to Odiorne Point State Park to walk along the shore. The waves were fairly large from the past few days of storms. They were big comers rolling in against an outgoing tide and then breaking close to shore in a frothy, booming explosion.

We stopped at Hannaford's market to do food shoping on the way home. I had found a recipe for oven roasted thyme Brussels sprouts that had sounded so good. After baking the sprouts, I mixed them up with almonds and some sherry sauted chicken pieces with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

03/15/13: Friday Night Photography Marketing Class
Sue took me to a photography marketing class taught by one of her former instructors, Alan Wood.

I picked her up after work and we headed right over to the McConnell Center here in Dover for the 5:30pm class. I had met Alan last year when Sue and I were hiking the Dover Wagon Hill trails. At the time, he was just finishing up his book on New England Lighthouses.

We got to see the published book at the class, which was geared toward the business side of photography. Alan's delivery was smooth and relaxed. The time just flew by and we found ourselves staying a half hour past the 8:00pm closing time so Alan could finish up the topic he was on.

03/16/13: The Great 2013 St. Patricks Day and George Henry Lett Backgammon Tournament And Irish Dinner Party!
On Saturday 03/16 Sue and I hosted The Great 2013 St. Patricks Day and George Henry Lett Backgammon Tournament And Irish Dinner Party! It had snowed the day before but the Saturday sun had everything melted away by the 5:00pm starting time.

By 3:30pm, I decided to just get on with the food prep as that always takes more time than you think it will. While I did that, Current Picture Sue got the ingrediants of the corn bread she was going to make organized. It took me a good hour to get the carrots, cabbage, onion, and celery ready.

I got the corned beef started early in a simmering broth of water, bottle of Killians, some oragano, and rosemary - yes, this is my slant on things because boring tasteless corned beef and cabbage is, well... so bland.

Because I had got that early start on prep work, Sue and I had time to run out a set of 3 games of backgammon before folks started arriving at 5:00pm. We ate at 7:15pm, ending with the movie of the night: the great 2002 Tom Clancy Sum of All Fears.

03/18/13: To Union, NH For Maple Sugaring Tour
Sue has been telling me how interesting the sugaring process was that they used to do at the farm in Tamworth, NH. She found the Meadow View Sugar House in Union, NH gave tours and this was the time of year to go Current Picture when they were boiling. So, off we went Sunday afternoon for a new adventure! We were there for over 2 hours while Nick Kosko showed us in great detail each aspect of the sugaring process.

This is just one of those experiences that you'd think you could pass on and not miss anything. This was definately one of those experiences that I am so thankful to Sue for introducing me to.

And just to show me what the difference in this from much of the store bought brands, Sue made a couple of small pancakes for breakfast Monday morning and used a bottle of the syrup that we had bought. The taste was spectacular.

03/19/13: Pre Spring Snow Storm
Tuesday 03/19 we woke to about 3 inches of fairly heavy snow. The weather report forecast was anywhere from 8 to 14 inches for the area so almost Current Picture everything was closed, including Sue's office.

Sue took off around 10:30am in a lull in the storm to get some snowshoeing in before the real heavy storm hit later in the afternoon. After she got back, we went out to do some errands as the first part of the storm had subsided somewhat.

By the time we got home, though, the snow had started falling heavily again. I lit a fire and we played backgammon for a couple of house while sipping wine and watching the snow fall through the living room windows.

03/20/13: First Day of Spring Surprise: Another Snow Storm!
Well, as the picture clearly shows, we got quite a bit of snow overnight and into early this morning. By the time this picture was taken, the sun had Current Picture come out and melted away quite a bit of it. But, we got at least an additional 2 to 3 inches on top of the 10 inches or so from yesterday.

Okay. Now it's time to stop the snow and stuff and get on with the spring!

03/22/13: Friday Night Dinner in Newfields, NH
Friday afternoon 03/22 I picked Sue up at work and we drove down to my friend Doug Ostrander of d.h. Ostrander Goldsmith studio in Portsmouth. We wanted to chat with him about rings, stones, and designs. I've known Doug for something like 30 years as he took over the work of producing all of my karate disciple cobra rings. It was nice to work with him on this project.

From there, we drove out Rt. 33 south and took Squamscott Road to cut to the south of Great Bay over to Rt. 108 to the Ship to Shore restaurant in Newfields. We met my martial arts student Eleanne and her husband Michael there for dinner and some great conversation.

03/23/13: Open Weekend
Saturday morning 03/23, Sue headed off to meet her friend Gale for some exploring and shopping in Portsmouth while I spent the morning grinding away on a major code rewrite on my Forex project. I had discovered that I had to account for some anomalies I had discovered in my live trading between the theoretical signals that the program was generating vs. the actual points I was able to execute - all to the great depletion of my account. But then, that's the only way you learn is when it hurts. So, I figure I learned a lot because it hurt a lot!

After Sue got back, we compiled a shopping list and went out and did that rather than taking up the day tomorrow to do it. By the time we got home and put everything away, it was time to start the party! We put some CD's on, I poured out some wine, Sue made up some cheese and crackers, and we played a couple hours of backgammon.

Before we had started playing backgammon, I had got all the stuff together and warming for spaghetti. So all I had to do when we finished up over the board was to turn up the heat and bake the garlic bread in the toaster oven. We finished off the night with the really wonderful 2011 French film The Intouchables.

Sunday morning we both just worked on projects until early afternoon. We drove over to a local antique shop with some pictures Sue had of items at her mom's that she had taken to see if there was any interest. We have a little more research to do on that.

It was such a nice day that Sue suggested a walk down at Wagon Hill. But gee, the sun had turned the snow into some pretty deep slush and it was pretty tough going. We just walked down to the water and sat on one of the benches for awhile chatting before heading home for some wine and backgammon.

03/29/13: Down and Out For Easter Weekend
Somehow I came down with a case of what we think is food poisoning on Thursday 03/28 from a sub I ate. Great. It was a very, very miserable 3 days to get through, obliterating any thoughts of a relaxing Easter weekend.

It wasn't until Sunday night that I even felt like eating. Sue and I fixed our planned ham, potatoes au gratin, and sauteed asparagus spears. I even had a small glass of wine, though that might have been pushing it a little despite the fact that the 14 Hands Merlot is really nice with a very soft finish. We finished off the weekend with the delightful 1978 movie Same Time Next Year.

04/04/13: Moving Away From MicroSoft Products
I have some very negative thoughts concerning the direction that MicroSoft has taken in their Office suite of products.

This came about as a result of me just learning, for example, that MS Word 2010 (which saves its documents as the new .docx extension) does not offer backward compatibility support for MS Word 2003 (which saved its documents in a .doc extension), i.e. you can't open an MS Word 2003 document in MS Word 2010. That's just plain wrong.

Oh, sure, you can buy a converter, but that's not the issue. The issue is that MicroSoft is blatantly casting all of their products into a closed system so that you are trapped into paying them to constantly run with their new product upgrades.

I've seen many companies fall pray to this. A couple that come immediately to mind are the huge hardware companies Wang and Digital Equipment, both of which have vanished from the planet because of their instance on holding to closed proprietary standards.

I am moving away from MicroSoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) in favor of the new open standard OpenOffice suite of products (http://www.openoffice.org/). You can tell the difference by the extension on the file name. For example, OpenOffice saves it's documents in the .odt/.ods/etc. formats which are all xml open form. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument for better explanation of these open file extensions. Also http://opendocumentfellowship.com/introduction/odf_vs_oxml.

I found the following critique of MicroSoft .docx format very interesting. It is from one of the many forums out there griping about just this issue:

  • There is already a standard ISO26300 named Open Document Format (ODF): a dual standard adds costs, uncertainty and confusion to industry, government and citizens;
  • There is no provable implementation of the OOXML specification: Microsoft Office 2007 produces a special version of OOXML, not a file format which complies with the OOXML specification;
  • There is information missing from the specification document, for example how to do a autoSpaceLikeWord95 or useWord97LineBreakRules;
  • More than 10% of the examples mentioned in the proposed standard do not validate as XML;
  • There is no guarantee that anybody can write software that fully or partially implements the OOXML specification without being liable to patent lawsuits or patent license fees by Microsoft;
  • This format conflicts with existing ISO standards, such as ISO 8601 (Representation of dates and times), ISO 639 (Codes for the Representation of Names and Languages) or ISO/IEC 10118-3 (cryptographic hash);
  • There is a bug in the spreadsheet file format which forbids any date before the year 1900: such bugs affect the OOXML specification as well as software applications like Microsoft Excel 2000, XP, 2003 and 2007.
  • This standard proposal was not created by bringing together the experience and expertise of all interested parties (such as the producers, sellers, buyers, users and regulators), but by Microsoft alone.
Even if you could have an Office Suite that could write a 100% perfect OOXML, why would you do that anyways? I mean, OOXML is just plain broken as an standard.

04/05/13: Friday Movie Night at The Garrison: U.S. Marshals
Friday night after Sue got home from work, we popped a bottle of 14 Hands Merlot, got the oven preheating for pizza, and sat down to many sets of backgammon.

At 7:00pm, friends started to arrive for our MNG - Movie Night at the Garrison. I had originally intended to show an asian karate movie, Fighter in the Wind, that Rick Downs had given me. But my Blu-ray player not only wouldn't load my copy, it wouldn't load Rick's either.

Some of the folks, including Sue, hadn't as yet seen the 1998 U.S. Marshals with Tommy Lee Jones. So, that was the movie of the night and it was great!

04/06/13: More Like Spring Weekend
Saturday morning started out just a little cloudy. By the time Sue got back from working out with her friend, the sun had come out and it was warming up. After eating the burgers that she had bought on the way home, we went on a back roads drive up to Elf's Landscaping as Sue wanted to buy some pansies for the deck. We caught them just as they were shutting down for the day and picked out several small baskets. Nice relaxing day, though I remember that I was feeling a little weak at the time. A harbinger of things to come the next day, actually....

04/07/13: Off To Emergency Room
Started having really bad stomach/chest pains Saturday 04/06 that carried into Sunday. By 1:00pm I was just miserable, Sue stuffed me into the car and hauled me off to the Emergency Room at Wentworth Douglas Hospital here in Dover.

Good thing she did as turns out my gall bladder had a dozen stones and was infected. Just luck of the draw rather than any life style issues, as the doctor put it. They admitted me and got the pain medication going, but I was really a hurtin' unit.

04/09/13: Gall Bladder Removal Surgery
Because the surgeon felt that my current episode was just a continuation of what had happened to me over Easter weekend, she wanted to keep me in the hospital until the infection had stabilized enough for her to operate on me.

So, Tuesday 04/09 at 11:00am I had surgery to remove my gall bladder. However, because of the infection, they couldn't do the less evasive single incision, but had to make multiple cuts into the stomach muscle..

And let me tell you if you have no experience in such an issue, to have your stomach muscles cut, you can't do anything without a lot of pain. It's almost impossible to sit down or get up from a chair or the bed, or to turn your body in any direction. It's painful just to sit, stand, or even walk. I've heard many say that they thought having the gall bladder removed was one of the more painful procedures that you could have. I'd have to partially agree from my previous experience 3 years ago with having my right hip replaced. Having my gall bladder removed was right up there for sure.

It takes a few days, but the sharp pain and stiffness gradually turn to just a dull pain. And like any surgery, it just kicks the crap out of your energy. I slept 20 hours a day for the first few days after getting out of the hospital. Part of that, of course, was due to the druggggggs. As soon as I thought I could tolerate the pain, I got off the Percocet and just did Tylenol.

And you don't even want to think about coughing or sneezing. One of my karate disciples, Tim House, not only has experience with this sort of thing, but his wife and black belt student of mine, Cindy, is a ER nurse. They both said to just grab a pillow and press it tightly against your stomach. No body tells you this stuff! Gad, I had to cough a few times before they told me about this and it put me right to my knees on the floor; it was that sharp of a pain.

04/17/13: Post Op Primary Care Physician Appointment
Woke up this morning (Wednesday) feeling about the best that I have. I seemed to have slept much better than I have. And as it turned out, the day itself was physically much better for me; yesterday was just awful. I'm healing!

Today I had my post op surgery evaluation by my primary care physician, Dr. Thomas Clairmont, in Portsmouth. It was only the second time I had been out, but I felt strong and pretty good, so I just drove myself down.

Dr. Clairmont said things looked really good and that I was healing up just fine. But he was very concerned about the statements on the surgeon's notes about the severity of the infection and my condition upon admittance to the hospital. "You know," he said peering over the top of his glasses, "with your condition not too many years ago you'd have been dead. It's a good thing Sue got you to the hospital when she did because the report shows you were completely blocked causing some very serious consequences if you had not been treated when you were."

Great. Just great.... But we are all so much more aware of our bodies today that when find yourself in very unfamiliar pain, you don't stoically hang around thinking it will go away. You go and get treated, and then you heal. I'm healing and very thankful for seeing this rather beautiful Spring day.

04/19/13: Air Supply In Concert
Sue and I have had tickets for months to the Palace Theater for the Friday 04/19/13 Air Supply concert to celebrate the 18th as the third year since I fixed dinner for her on our first real 'date'. Though really very weak and not feeling 100%, I thought if I slept a lot during the day and took it easy that I'd probably be fine.

And even though I did take a couple of long naps during the day, I was pretty worn down by the time we got back home. But it was a great time!

We had dinner before the show at the Shaskeen Pub on Elm Street, just around the corner from the Palace Theater. I was able to get a parking spot right across the street from the theater, and so it was a very short walk from there to the pub and then back to the theater. But I could tell that any more than that would have been too much.

It's amazing how the body just tries to fold in on itself when healing. Fortunately, the seats at the theater were really comfortable, and I just sort of molded into mine for the night. The concert itself was terrific! Air Supply, for whatever reason, just never rang a bell to me during all of the early years (30 years ago) when they had their major hits and were a major world act. But song after song after song just came back to me. I had no idea how I had been affected all those years ago by their music. It was really an uplifting eveing for me.

04/20/13: Sue's Family For Dinner
It was really tough for me getting out of bed Saturday morning 04/20. I was a hurtin' unit after just that mild evening out. I don't know, but I think I rolled out of bed around 10:00am or something like that. Current Picture And I was still not moving around very well.

I had to take a few short naps through the late morning and early afternoon before I could get up enough steam to go out with Sue to do the shopping for the dinner party that we were having that evening for Sue's mom, brother Alan, and Alan's wife Joann who drove down from Tamworth, NH.

Fortunately, I had picked a simple Chicken Piccata over parsley boiled egg noodles and a side of stir fried green beans in garlic, shallots, and herbs. I was moving pretty slowly doing my food prep and did get it all quite done before they arrived. But that was fine. I finished up and was able to take a short break to chat with everyone.

But shortly after we ate, chatted for a short time, and had a mango cream desert that Sue had made, I started to go downhill really fast. Everyone knew I was hurting, and so they headed out around 8:30pm. Sue and I watched a couple of short recorded episodes of HGTV House Hunters, and then went to bed.

04/21/13: Sunday Short Walk At The Shore
I was so exhausted from Friday and Saturday that I didn't climb out of bed until about 9:30am Sunday morning. After breakfast, Sue drove by a local McDonalds to get us coffee, Current Picture and then we were off to Odiorne Point State Park to get some ocean air.

I parked myself on a bench along the walking path, all buttoned up from the brisk ocean breeze, with book in hand (Sol Stein's How to Grow a Novel), as Sue continued on the path and down onto the post storm rock, seaweed, and pebble strewn shoreline.

On the way home, we stopped off at the store to pick up some final food items for the week. I was sore and still really tired, but felt well enough to sip some wine and play several sets of backgammon before having a dinner of leftovers from stock. We had the first few episodes of the 1964 - 1969 tv series Peyton Place from NetFlix, so we watched a little of that before turning in early. I was more than ready for that....

04/24/13: 2 Week Post Surgical Check Up
Wednesday I went to the surgeon who did my operation, Dr. Auty, for a 2 week review. She confirmed just how dire my situation was and that recovery would be at least 6 weeks. But, stitches and overall stuff were very healthy. BP 120/78 so that's great, as it was 130/78 last week at my primary care physician check up, and 200/98 when I went into the ER that Sunday.....

Life is good and to be cherished; don't wait until you are like I was, lying there in the ER with them pumping morphine into you to combat a potential life threatening situation and then start thinking about your life. I think about my life constantly, and I do whatever I can to make my life fulfilling. Each and every day, in each and every way, I get better, better, and better. Well, after 45 years in the martial arts, that's my take on it. It's not only what I teach, but what I live by.

04/25/13: Brown Belt Karate Exam in Gilford, NH
Sue and I drove up with my disciple Rick Downs Thursday evening to Gilford, NH to sit on the testing board for my disciple Russ Jones Sachem Self Defense School brown belt testing of one of his students. Interestingly, as we drove past the Gunstock Ski area, there was still snow on the upper trails!

We had an excellent turn out of other C&S Self Defense Association instructors and members, some of whom were asked to participate in the exam itself. Still recovering from my surgery, I had to really take it easy and just yell from the sidelines. 13 year old Elizabeth did an excellent job, even in the outside self defense portion of the exam where she had to defend herself against senior students 2 and 3 times larger than her. But every time she got knocked down, she sprang right back up and gave it all she had, as well as a little blood to clear the evil spirits out! Fitting for the Full Moon!

Our tests are direct, hard, and uncompromising. They are agnostic to a students size, age, or gender. A student either performs at the level or they do not; no tears and no excuses. Elizabeth showed us that she is more than capable of holding a 3rd Degree Brown Belt ranking. Good job!

04/26/13: Dinner Out With Colin
Friday afternoon, Colin gave me a call to see if Sue and I would like to go out to dinner with him and Ren. We had originally just planned a quiet night home, but Sue thought going out to B.G.s Boathouse on Sagamore Creek in Portsmouth would be grand fun!

Colin and Ren picked us up at around 6:15pm and we were seated in the outside enclosed deck area by 6:30pm with the sun still out so we could enjoy the view of the creek, even though the tide was way, way out. The room stayed fairly warm until the sun went down. But then it cooled off just enough that we were all glad we had brought jackets or sweaters. Spring is still pretty chilly at night here in New England.

When we came out of the restaurant, the girls got all fired up about getting ice cream (yes, ice cream...) at Golick's Dairy Bar in Dover on the way back to our house. The arguments were so strong that there was no use even considering not going. They do have the best ice cream and soft serve I've had, so no real resistance there....

But, by the time we got home, I was pretty beat. My body is still recovering from the infection and surgery and only has so much energy. We watched one saved episode of Selling LA and went to bed. Well, I collapsed into bed would be a more fitting description of my action.

04/27/13: Saturday Dinner and Movie Oblivion
Sue and I met up with Tim and Brian at 5:00pm Saturday at the Ruby Tuesdays in Newington to have dinner before heading over to see the 7:10pm showing of the 2013 release of the Tom Cruise movie Oblivion. Though entertaining for the most part, with great action and special effects, it did lag in too many parts and there were some really silly things in the plot. I personally thought it just 'ok', glad that I went to see it on the big screen, but wouldn't watch it again. Just my thoughts. Sue gave it a 1 on a scale of 10 just to be polite.

04/28/13: Getting Out and Around on Sunday

Sunday afternoon, Sue drove us over to South Berwick, ME to The Hamilton House; a beautiful old shipping merchant captain's home sitting on a promontory Current Picture overlooking the Salmon Falls River.

She wanted to take a walk with her camera around the grounds and along some of the trails of the bordering Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park.

It was such a beautiful setting and wonderful day; a great day to be healing up and able to get out and enjoy life in the fresh air!

05/04/13: The Great 2013 Cinco De Mayo Backgammon Tournament And Chili Cookoff Challenge!
Sue and I hosted our latest backgammon dinner party, The Great 2013 Cinco De Mayo Backgammon Tournament And Chili Cookoff Challenge, on Saturday May 4th. Because of the busy weekend of parties, a Dover road race, and other events Current Picture our turnout was small, but we had a great time.

We had decided to have a chili cookoff for those coming. Both Tony and the Houses put up such good meals that we declared it a tie: Tony's for it's hot and spicy flavors and the Houses for the smooth mix of beans and herbs. Great stuff! And Sue fixed not only rockin' Margaritas, but also a super sopapilla cheesecake.

We ended off the night with the 2012 movie, Argo; interesting from its partially true/complete historical perspective, and the cast was great.

05/10/13: Crazy Weather Weekend!
The weather over Mother's Day weekend was just all over the place. Sometimes it was warm with a gentle breeze, and other times it was overcast - and sometimes raining - with blustery winds that made it seem more like early fall than coming into late Spring. Current Picture

However, we got the angel water fountain out on the deck Thursday evening because... well, because we're into Spring here and we need to get stuff going out on the deck!

Friday after Sue got home from work we just sipped some wine and had spaghetti while playing backgammon. Saturday Sue left around 9:30am to drive down to MA to a halfway point to meet her daughter. The two of them explored the 132 acre Tower Hill Botanical Gardens in Boylston, MA, had lunch, and a general great time.

While Sue was gone, I spent most of the day finishing up the organizational work I needed to prepare for the upcoming Master Candidate Review. Myself and Grandmaster David Landers, who will be flying in from Illinois, will be examining 3 of my advanced karate disciples (all with in excess of 25 years study) to see if they are ready for 5th Degree Black Belt Master level. I did manage to get out for about an hour to do the food shopping, but other than that, I was pretty busy.

So, I was beat by the time Sue got back around 6:00pm. And she was beat from driving 3 hours! We just relaxed with some backgammon out on the deck, though it was a little chilly as the sun moved behind the trees. And because of the chilly air, we ate leftovers for dinner inside.

Sunday morning Mother's Day, Sue and I drove up to Tamworth, NH to see her mom. It had rained during the night and was very cloudy with sprinkles as we drove north on Rt. 16. The further north we drove, the more it seemed to be sunny in the distant mountains. And though there were times when the sun did poke out from under the clouds while we were up there, it was mostly overcast and breezy.

We picked her mom up and took her for a drive around the Cleveland Hill area, the former home/retreat of President Grover Cleveland. What a spectacular area that is. It's just beautiful, though because the area is so secluded the roads are mostly dirt and gravel. And sometimes you break out of the wooded areas and are treated to some of the most beautiful and expansive mountain views you could imagine.

After getting back to Tamworth, we stopped for pizza at Chequers Villa and then Sue and I helped her mom rake out her flower beds until 2:30pm when we headed back home. Though I did pace myself, my body is still recovering from the infection and surgery so I had to just sit down and rest for the last half hour. I was tired for the rest of the day (and the following day), but not the desperate exhaustion that I experienced just a couple of weeks ago.

I had planned to fix a simple pork with tomatoes in a white wine sauce, so we had time to relax, chat and play a little backgammon before I started dinner prep. And we closed out the evening with the really engaging and well done 2013 movie, Safe Haven, a Nicholas Sparks novel.

05/16/13: C&S Self Defense Association 2013 Master Candidate Review
From Thursday May 16 at noon through Sunday May 19 at noon the C&S Self Defense Association held the 2013 Master Candidate Review. The location was on the shores of beautiful Squam Lake in Sandwich, NH. This location is where much of the movie On Golden Pond was shot and it is considered one of the most beautiful locations in the country, though no one - including myself and Grandmaster David Landers who had flown in from Illinois for the exam - had time to travel around much to see it.

It was a long and demanding four days, but the following (all having around 30 years training under me) received their 5th Degree Black Belt Master level promotions and join as full members of the C&S Self Defense Association Governing Council: Spirit Eagle Master Tim House, Tai Chien Dojo, Portsmouth, NH, King Snake Master Russell Jones, Sachem Self Defense School, Laconia, NH, and Dragon Master James Nancarrow, Northwood School of Self Defense, Altamonte Springs, FL. In addition, congratulations to Storm Dragon Grandmaster David Landers with 43 years with me who received his promotion to 8th Degree Black Belt, and for all of the lives he has touched in such a positive way, and some sympathy for those he has touched in not such a loving manner in his law enforcement career.

Current Picture

2013 Master Candidate Review, Squam Lake, NH. From left to right: 9th Degree Black Belt White Cobra Grandmaster Peter Rose, 5th Degree Black Belt Spirit Eagle Master Tim House, 8th Degree Black Belt Storm Dragon Grandmaster David Landers, 5th Degree Black Belt Dragon Master James Nancarrow, 5th Degree Black Belt King Snake Master Russ Jones.

05/24/13: Memorial Day Weekend
Based on the weather during the week and forecasts, it looked as though it would be cold and rainy for the entire Memorial Day holiday weekend. Fortunately, both Sunday and Monday turned out nice, though it was very windy and a little chilly.

Because of the crummy weather, Sue headed off in the morning for the gym, and when she got back, we just did a bunch of inside stuff. For dinner, we drove down to Bonta in Hampton Falls, just outside of Exeter. We had never been there before and had always wanted to try it. Of course, right as we were pulling into the parking lot, the rain just pelted down. Inside, however, the atmosphere was warm and nice, and the food was good enough that I think we'd both like to go back again.

Sunday morning the sun began to poke through, and by late morning it was really nice out. After a salad for lunch, we dashed out for an hour or so to get the food shopping out of the way. We had decided that I'd cook our party dinner on Monday and instead have some leftovers for dinner tonight, and go to the new 2013 Star Trek: Voyage Into Darkness movie. This just had to be seen on the big screen. I really liked it. Sue even liked it! I don't think it had the story line or continuity that the first J.J. Abrams one had, but then I think you'd have to go a long way to beat that movie.

Monday, Memorial Day, after a big breakfast, we left the house at 9:30. Sue wanted to take me up to the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve and the day was promising to be just right for it. We got hung up for awhile in North Berwick with a parade and had to take a detour, which was fine because we grabbed coffee to go at a local stop.

Traffic was surprisingly light the entire trip over - we took Rt. 4 to Rt 9 into Wells, and then some back roads north to avoid Rt. 1. But even Rt. 1 wasn't too bad. The Reserve itself is spread out over a huge area with multiple public buildings and nature trails everywhere.

Sue led the way along the Barrier Beach Trail to Laudholm Beach. She took her camera and headed off for a long walk along the beach while I parked it on the rocks and read and watched the surf come in. And the surf did come in to the extent that I had to move off of the rocks where I had perched myself back up the beach aways. A great day to be out though!

Sue then drove us down to Wells Beach itself as she wanted to take some pictures there as well. I parked it on a bench and read while she did that. I'm not a huge fan of Wells Beach and was glad to be on the way after about 40 minutes. On the way back, we succumbed to the call of Dairy Queen and just had to stop for a small treat. Not sure about traffic, we took the back roads home, taking a short detour through Rollinsford, NH and then stopping at Wentworth Gardens for a couple of nice plants for the deck Sue wanted.

After getting back home at 3:00pm, we sat out on the deck for about an hour reading. But the wind was really chilly, particularly with the sun dropping behind the trees and throwing a blanket of shade across the deck. So, we moved inside for some backgammon before I started in on cooking. Sue had bought a nice Sebastiani Merlot while at the store earlier in the week, so I opened that and we sipped through the rest of the evening.

For our Memorial Day dinner, I cooked up a dish Sue had requested: a Moroccan chicken thighs in a herb seasoned apricot and cilantro sauce over a bed of oregano steamed basmati rice. Ma-vo-louse! And the movie of the night was the outstanding 2012 Searching For Sugarman.

06/01/13: Saturday Kayaking at the Bellamy Reservoir
Saturday, we got our first taste of the coming summer: the temps were in the 90s and it was very humid. So, decided we'd throw the kayaks onto the car and head off somewhere. We weren't exactly sure where that would be, Current Picture but with the weather station predicting a continuation of the heat and humidity, Sue wanted to be out on the water, somewhere; anywhere.

By 10:00am we had the kayaks loaded on top of the car and all the gear stowed in the trunk and back seats, launching at the French Cross Road bridge at the Northeast tip of the Bellamy Reservoir.

We had a wonderful time, stopping to eat the subs we bought before heading over to the Reservoir. Sue kept them and some drinks chilled in a cooler bag she stuffed into the bow of her kayak.

06/02/13: Relaxing Sunday
Sunday afternoon we drove over to Hannaford's Supermarket on Rt. 108 to grocery shop for the week, followed by a quick trip back out to get some potting soil and a couple more plants.

When we got back home, Sue spent the afternoon potting and repotting plants and flowers for the deck while I did the laundry and tried to catch up on some reading before the backgammon battles over a glass of wine began, which I'm sorry to report that after a dozen games I finished 4 points down (however,

Monday evening, after 9 brutal games, I clawed my way back to pull 5 points ahead). The movie of the night was the uninspiring Lost In Translation, though, if you like Bill Murray, he did just an outstanding character portrayal.

06/04/13: Possible Fix For A Blu-ray Disk That Won't Load
So, I'm on my third NetFlix Blu-ray disk for the SiFi classic, THX 1138 and it won't play; just sits there and grids away. So, I call NetFlix and they suggest a wireless firmware update to my Blu-ray player. Well, okay. It's been awhile, so I update the firmware. But it still won't play.

I unplug the unit and let it set for a few minutes and try again. Nothing. So, I call Sony, the manufacturer. The support guy is really helpfull, but only suggesting what I've already done and checked on. Then he asks me if I could plug a USB flash drive into the back of the Blu-ray player. Really? But magically, the movie now loads and plays.....

Why's that? He says because newer created Blu-ray disks require larger amounts of memory and the regular DVD/Blu-ray players don't really have memory. They use the flash drive as swap space.

So, exactly how is a moron consummer like me supposed to know something like that? He had nothing to say, thus this email of my findings in case it ever happens to you.

06/08/13: Out to Dinner For Marissa's Birthday
Sue and I took Marissa and Gary out for dinner Friday night 06/08/13 to celebrate her birthday. We wanted to do it Friday because they were heading off for a few days to Mohegan Sun in CT.

We picked them up at their place after work at 6:00pm, but made a short stop at Dick's Sporting Goods in Newington, NH. Marissa conned me into getting her another couple of pairs of shorts for work.

Of course, the rain kept right up all night. Portsmouth was just awash everywhere. I dropped everyone off at the restaurant, State Street Saloon,and ended up a couple of blocks away to park the car because the area was so busy - Saturday was going to be the famous Market Square Day, and I think folks were getting into the swing of that. People were everywhere despite the downpour.

Though the restaurant was a little chilly from the overall dampness in the air, dinner and the conversations were great. It was interesting catching up with their activities as we really hadn't been together for awhile. This is really their busy work season, and with both of them putting in 60 hour weeks, it doesn't leave time for much else.

06/09/13: The Great 2013 Nine Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Summer Island Coconut Chicken Feast!
On Saturday evening 06/09/13, Sue and I held The Great 2013 Nine Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Summer Island Coconut Chicken Feast! to celebrate my nineth year living here. We had really tough rains the last few days, and had just figured we'd get washed out as well. Current Picture But, other than being a little cloudy during the morning, the sun broke out as we were finishing up with the food shopping early afternoon.

After putting the groceries away and organizing things for the party, Sue made up a batch of coconut margaritas and some crackers with red pepper jelly cream cheese, and we headed out on the deck to play some backgammon.

I played a couple of games with Tony after he arrived but then had to break out of play to work on the dinner - a really tasty island coconut chicken dish that Sue had done awhile back that we really enjoyed.

Fortunately, even though the sun had been out most of the day and had warmed up considerably from the early part of the week, the air cooled enough so running the oven and broiler (for Sue's bruschetta) didn't blast us out. And we topped off the night with the great 1981 movie Arthur with Dudley Moore.

06/14/13: Father's Day Weekend
Sue and I eased our way into the busy Father's Day weekend by just having a quiet night at home. We sipped some wine and listened to the easy contemporary music channel while playing out 5 sets (15 games) of backgammon. We did pause briefly for a dinner of spaghetti and meat balls. But other than the sort of okay 2012 movie, The Dark Truth, we just hung out and unwound.

Saturday, Sue was off mid morning to Alton Bay, NH with her friend Jen to take a paddle boarding lesson. I stayed behind to catch up on a lot of forex analysis study that I've been very busy with for the last several months. I went out on the deck with my coffee, turned on the water fountain, and just had a relaxing day reading in the sun. The operative word there is 'sun' because all it's done for the last week or so is rain. It's been awful! Well, I like it whether it's sunshine or rain, but it was really nice to be outside in the warm breezes.

Saturday evening, Sue treated me to dinner for my birthday at Portsmouth's Wellington Room. We've both been wanting to go there for awhile. Current Picture We heard that not only was the food exceptional, but the restaurant itself is in an intimate setting a couple of stories up with fantastic views out over the Piscataqua River. And that all proved to be the case.

We had a wonderful evening out together. And to top it off, when we got home I was finally able to give Sue her ring that we had gone to Doug Ostander to design for her.

And Sunday, Marissa had us and Colin over to her house on Middle Road for a Father's Day cookout. Beer and steak and chicken and corn on the cob and Sues pasta salad: how can you beat it? You just can't!

06/21/13: First Day of Summer!
After Sue got out of work Friday, we got right to our First Day of Summer adventures! We jumped into the car and drove up to Long Sands Beach in York, ME to the Sun and Surf restaurant. It's right on the beach and we got a table on the outside patio. Current Picture Even though it was hot, we had brought out jackets as the wind was strong and chilly blowing off the water.

After dinner, Sue wanted to go up to Nubble Lighthouse and take some pictures as the waning sun was casting some interesting light. Sue got one shot in particular of the lighthouse that is so unique of the Nubble, the composition was just unbelievable.

From there, we took the back road along the shore, down into York Beach, and then out to the Cape Neddick bridge. By the time we got home, it was getting dark and the moon was poking through the trees. Sue took some shots of that. And though the moon was nice, it was no where near as dramatic as it had been last year with all of the storm clouds creating waves of color across the sky.

06/22/13: To Tamworth, NH
Sue and I were up and out the door about 8:30am Saturday morning. Sue wanted to go up to Tamworth, NH to help her mom with some yard work. Though it was cloudy most of the day, and did rain on the drive back home, when the sun did come out, it was really hot.

Sue finished up about 1:00pm, and we all went to McDonalds for lunch. And the strangest thing happened to both me and Sue. She had got this really good orange and strawberry lemonade slushy type drink. Man, after taking a long sip of that through the straw, I had a pain in the roof of my mouth that felt like my head was going to come off. Sue described her pain as being shot in the head; the pain running through her temples; one side to the other. And that happened to us twice! So, what's up with that? Sue did some research, and it's quaintly referred to as Brain Freeze. Great....

As I mentioned, it did rain on the drive back home. Nothing major; just sprinkles. And traffic wasn't too bad. When we got home it was just after 2:00pm, so Sue tackled our garden.

We had decided that we'd better move most of the flowers that she had planted last year into temporary pots because the condo association was having a service cut down an old tree that sits right in the middle of that garden. And if taking the tree down wasn't going to damage anything, then the stump grinders when they come certainly would. Out with the plants! I was no help other than to offer enthusiastic encouragement from the sidelines.

After taking showers, I poured some wine, and we went out on the deck to play backgammon for awhile. We were having so much fun that we played through dinner; Sue just popped a pizza in the oven and we ate out on the deck. Unfortunately for me, I ended up 4 down over the 6 or 8 sets we played.

06/24/13: Tree Cut Down
The condo association hired Urban Tree Service to cut a huge tree down behind our unit on Monday 06/24/13. Current Picture

I had never seen such a huge tree taken out like that before. It was a thing of beauty!

06/29/13: Saturday Driving Explore
As in Winnie-The-Pooh going on 'explore' adventures, Sue and I headed out at 2:30pm Saturday afternoon for a driving explore. It had been cold and raining for literally days, but, when we woke up, the sky was clear and the sun was out. We didn't want to chance waiting until even Sunday as the weather reports for the next week were all rain. We decided that today was the day to do it!

We were headed primarily for the Lovell Lake area to look at a cottage for sale just as something to do rather than looking to buy. I had never been to the area before, and Sue wanted to show it to me. And, since we'd be out and around, we figured we'd stop off at a Mexican restaurant in Rochester and sample the Margarittas!

We drove out Rt. 4 to Sanford, ME where we picked up Rt. 109. But before heading out that way, Sue insisted that we stop at Shain's of Maine Ice Cream for a snack. Okay, okay. So, we were bad and had big cones - actually 'kids' size. But, I'd like to see the huge kids that result from eating that size, let alone the larger sizes....

Leaving there, we followed Rt. 109 all the way into Wakefield on the southern shore of Lovell Lake where the property was. The drive was beautiful as is Lovell Lake. The house, however, was a total dump, but the drive along 109 was really nice. It was worth the trip just for the drive.

Neither of us had been up to Great East Lake either, so we thought we'd drive up there and go around the lake. We continued on 109 to Rt. 153 and turned off of that at the lights where the Poor People's Pub is. It's a winding series of back roads that we had to take to get to Great East Lake, but a fun explore. Even the part where I made a wrong turn at the top northern part of Great East and ended up driving south all the way back to Rt. 109 where the property we saw was. Yup, don't know how I managed that. But it was, again, a really pretty drive. Besides, we were on an explore!

And even that wasn't a disaster because we had wanted to get back to the junction of Rt. 109 and Rt. 153 anyway. From there we had planned to jump onto Rt. 16 south and head to north Rochester to take Rt. 11 west just a little ways to the restaurant. So, it all worked out anyway.

Well, since we were on an explore anyway, we decided to hop off of Rt. 16, which, though pretty in its own right, is just a busy highway. We took the exit for Rt. 125 and followed that south all the way to join up with Rt. 11 and to the La Corona Mexican Restaurant.

We had a great time. First up was The Great Margaritta Comparisson. I'm not a huge Margaritta fan, but I had a really nice 'Tropical Margaritta' with strawberry and bananna. Sue picked the 'Blue Moonlight' one with Cuervo Gold Tequila. You could tell the difference in flavor from the bar brand in mine. But fine.

What was really surprising was their salsa. It was not only terrific, but the best salsa that I've had. A very smooth salsa with not only clear tastes of all the ingredients, but a wonderfully surprising hint of cilantro. And the food was really good as well.

Sue had a spectacular shrimp dish that I'd have next time I go; it was that good. I tried a mix of Enchilada, and Chile Relleno, which, though good, just had too much cheese on the whole thing. I think it's Mexico's way of getting back at the U.S. by trying to kill us all off with too much cheese on the food.

Real Mexican food isn't like that. I've been to Mexico, so I have an idea of what the food should taste like. Mexican food is so tasty, I don't know why they spoil it at so many places in the U.S. with so much cheese. The food here, underneath all the cheese, has those flavors. But with all that cheese, it was just too much like one of the common Mexican chain restaurants we see.

The sun was still out and it was hot even when we got back to the house at around 7:00pm, so Sue fixed up home brew Margarittas, and we went out on the deck to play some backgammon. But as dusk began to settle in, the mosquitoes were so fierce that we just headed inside. After finishing off with backgammon (after 4 sets of 3 games a set I'm 5 down), we just watched some archived episodes of HGTV House Hunters and an episode of Rick Steves Europe where he was in Northern Ireland.

Surprisingly, it was hot, humid, and sunny all day Sunday. After we went food shopping, Sue went outside and did her 'Plant Lady' stuff until later in the afternoon. She showered up, got some snacks out, and I poured out some Flag Hill red wine to try for the evening as we started in with the backgammon again. Dinner was pork chops with a layer of steamed kale and corn on the cob followed by the wonderfully entertaining 2012 Matt Damon movie Promised Land.

07/03/13: Fireworks On The River
Our friend Roger invited Colin, Ren, Sue, me, and several of his other friends out on his 42 foot Duffy for a cruise up the river Wednesday 07/03 to see Current Picture the Portsmouth 4th of July fireworks Wed eve. I had a late afternoon interview in Manchester, NH and wasn't sure how my drive back would be with, not only regular commuter traffic along 101 and 125 would be, but also traffic at the start of a major holiday weekend. But despite all of that, I made good time.

Colin and Ren picked us up at 7:00pm, and we were out on the boat and cast off by 7:30pm. It was an unexpected bright and sunny evening sky as it had rained the last few days and the prediction was 30% for tonight. But no rain at all. We had a nice cruise down the Piscataqua River into Portsmouth. The bridge that has been being rebuilt for the last year is about finished. It was interesting seeing all of the work barges clustered around both of the main lift sections.

07/04/13: 4th of July
Thursday morning, 4th of July, Sue and I staggered out of bed about 8:15am. We had wanted to get up earlier, but that just didn't happen. But, by about 9:15am we had loaded the kayaks onto my car and were off for an adventure. It was supposed to be hot and humid, in the 90's, and Sue wanted to be on the water.

We found the boat launch area off of Hook Hill Road, the one we had tried unsuccessfully to find last time we had gone out on the Current Picture Bellamy Reservoir. It's a very shaded spot, and so much cooler than the frying pan area by the French Cross Road bridge.

Sue wanted to explore down to the Rt. 101 bridge, and so we spun to the left after launching. Actually, we arched across the inlet to the other shore where there was shade. The sun was already blaring down onto the water and the humidity was fierce. I'm not a fan of the sun, anyway, and so I was glad to find coolness in the lily pads and dragonflies.

It was a lovely day. We weren't in any hurry, and just casually explored every little part of the shoreline. That's my thing, to just poke around rather than blitz around the place. And that's just fine with Sue. She took almost 70 pictures in the 3 hours we were out there, and about drove me mad with her long investigations of every little river flower and fallen birch tree she could find.

07/05/13: Friday in the Heat!
After finally pulling myself out of bed Friday morning from that awful night of pain, I went around and closed all of the curtains and turned the air conditioning on. It had been predicted that temperatures would reach the mid 90's. I had planned to spend the day working on my FOREX programming analysis project, but there was so much other business work and calls to do that I never got to it.

And it was so hot outside that I only went out about 4:00pm to water some of the newly grassed association common area in front of the area where our unit is. The association had hired a new landscape company this year, and what a difference! I had watched a crew from O'Neill Landscaping chop up the clayish topsoil and then lay down really good loam, which they then mixed all around. The previous company sent a couple of guys out that had just thrown dirt down and then some cheap grass seed. They did that a couple years and nothing happened and it just was a total waste. I'm writing this a week or so after the O'Neill crew was here and the grass is really starting to take hold. Amazing when you know what you're doing.... But, you always get what you pay for.

Just after I finished the watering, Sue got home from work and we jumped into her car for a trip to the liquor store. She had to get supplies for the drinks she was making for the backgammon dinner party we're hosting tomorrow night. And it was hot out there still!

When we got back, it was still early and though hot, still pretty out. I poured out some Chardonnay, Sue got the board, and we ventured out into a shady spot on the deck for several sets of backgammon. However, it was too hot to eat outside, so we went in to have the mixed tossed salad that Sue had made for us. Knowing how hot and humid it was going to be, Sue had planned to have a cool light meal. And that worked out great. And we ended up the night with the terrific 2006 movie Neil Young: Heart of Gold. And even going to bed before 10:00pm, I slept soundly until 8:00am from my body recovering from the day before's assault.

07/06/13: The Great 2013 4th of July Backgammon Tournament And Light-em-up Spicy Black Bean Salad Explosion!
I finally crawled out of bed at 8:00am Saturday morning, feeling so much better than the last couple of days. But even before having coffee, Sue suggested that I should water the grass as it was going to be another very hot, humid day. After taking care of that and some other things around the house, Sue and I were off to do the shopping for the party.

Saturday 07/06/13 Sue and I hosted The Great 2013 4th of July Backgammon Tournament And Light-em-up Spicy Black Bean Salad Explosion!. Though really hot and humid, we spent the first part of the party out on the deck, and then went in for dinner.

The games went smoothly, and, despite the heat, Current Picture Sue had made some refreshing specialty strawberry, watermelon Margaritas that hit the spot! For dinner I made a cool Light-em-up Spicy Black Bean Salad over herb basmatti rice. Well, it wasn't that spicy! I held it down to just nicely seasoned. But it was great.

And for desert Sue had spent the morning concocting a Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. A nice cool top off to the meal itself. We finished off the evening with the 2013 movie Gangster Squad

07/07/13: Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion and a Wandering Drive Through The Backroads
Sue and I ended up going on a long back road explore on Sunday 07/07/13 after some planned for stops where we knew where we were going.

We headed out around 10:30am to a shop in downtown Portsmouth that Sue had been wanting to check out. It was a beautiful day, though showers were predicted for later in the afternoon. We were both amazed that Portsmouth wasn't any where nearly as crowded as we had thought it would be for the tail end of the 4th of July weekend; there were parking spots literally all over the place.

After finishing up at the store, we hopped back into the car and headed off to visit the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion State Historic Site. Since Sue loves old historic Current Picture homes and hadn't seen this one, I had suggested that, since we were down in the area, we should go. They also have an art museum on the property, and I knew she'd enjoy that.

Despite being on the river, it was hot and humid as we walked around the grounds so Sue could get some pictures before our tour started. In fact, it was so bad the tour guide said that they were only giving reduced rate tours today because only the first floor was open; the upper floors were so hot they didn't want folks going through that.

From there, we drove out Rt. 33 and had a nice drive along some of the area's backroads just to tour and enjoy the day. Fortunately, we missed all of the holicay traffic mess and had a really nice time on our drive. It was still fairly hot when we got home, and so we just parked it out on the deck for awhile to read. But by 4:00pm we were ready for a glass of wine and some backgammon - which we played until we got hungry enough to go in about 7:30pm and heat up some leftovers. And just as we were thinking of taking our plates out onto the deck, it started to rain fairly hard. And that was fine as we just ate inside. We were both tired, and so we just watched a few episodes of HGTV's House Hunters International and headed off to bed.

07/15/13: Summer Deck Shopping
The weather has now changed from almost constant rain to increasing heat and humidity. That's New England. Probably in a couple of weeks it'll start snowing again.... Regardless, I realized that with the tree behind the condo down, the sun was just really brutal out on the deck.

Sue suggested we just get a stand and umbrella, so Tuesday after work I piled into her car and off we went summer deck shopping. We went down to just south of Portsmouth to the Lowes where we got a weighted stand. Current Picture We backtracked to Home Depot in Newington for an umbrella, but just didn't see what we wanted, We tried the Christmas Tree Shop and then went to Ocean State Job Lots where we found a nice umbrella with a tilt top. Just what we needed!

Since we were out and around and it was still early, we decided to go over the General Sullivan Bridge and have dinner on the water at Newick's. I had a beer and a fried shrimp dinner and Sue ordered some fancy special rum drink with her coconut shrimp dinner. We were both surprised at how busy it was for a Tuesday night, but with the heat I guess folks were just looking for any excuse to get out and around.

The sun was just going down, and so after dinner Sue drove us over to Great Bay Marine to take a few pictures. We walked around on the docks and enjoyed the cooler air along the water. The sunset was pretty, and Sue got a particularly interesting shot of it glaring off of the window of one of the marina's work tug boats. The whole evening was a nice mid week excursion.

07/21/13: Sunday Yard Work In Tamworth
Sunday morning 07/21/13, we drove up to Sue's mom's house in Tamworth, NH to help her with some yard work. To cool down after, Sue suggested that we drive over to the Sandwich Creamery for ice cream; that was 'lunch'. Current Picture Well, 'part' of lunch as we stopped off and grabbed hot dogs on the drive home....

But what a beautiful drive up Rt. 113 to Sandwich that was. Of course, the Sandwich area is so pretty that I just had to have Sue drive us through Center Sandwich and the surrounding areas as well!

In particular, I had to drive by The Corner House Inn where a group of us had Saturday night dinner at the May 16 2013 Master Candidate Review, Squam Lake, NH. It is such a pretty area. I had Sue take the picture of the direction sign that sits at the main intersection in Center Sandwich as I recall commenting to everyone at the time how many shops etc. there were and that this must be a really neat area in the summer.

On the drive home, we stopped off and did the food shopping. After putting the food away and taking showers to clean up, I poured out some wine and we played backgammon out on the deck for an hour or so before I fixed dinner. Sue had found an interesting sounding recipe for summer squash, onions, zucchini, sweet yellow peppers, and mushrooms with garlic herbed chicken sausages. It was a quick fix and turned out pretty good, though next time I'd put a few more herbs in as it just lacked a little spark.

08/03/13: Flower Garden Finally Coming Together
Well, it's been a long time, but Sue finally got the opportunity to replant the flower garden from when it got all torn up after the long wait to get the tree taken down back at the end of June. Then, there was a long wait for the stump removal, Current Picture and then waiting again for the landscape crew to come back and fix the grounds around the area. But, success!

She was able to get out into the dirt and start moving stuff around after we got back from a trip to Home Depot to get two huge bags of soil.

Though most everything got done, a large area got torn up because of the size of the tree. The landscapers threw new soil down and then grass seed, but it's going to take awhile for the area boarding the flower garden to start to come around. And because the soil has a lot of clay in it and was in the shade for so many years, there's a lot of other bare spots back there that need some attention. Later....

08/10/13: The Great 2013 Dog Days of Summer Backgammon Tournament And Gazpacho Madness!
Saturday 08/10/13 Sue and I held The Great 2013 Dog Days of Summer Backgammon Tournament And Gazpacho Madness!. The weather forecast had been threatening showers, but the day was so nice that we sat outside the entire time enjoying a beautiful summer evening. Current Picture This was a much better experience than some of the scorchers that we've had recently where the air is so heavy you can't walk through it.

As soon as Sue and I got back from shopping, we both started in with our prep work. Sue had already made the sangria and had that chilling in the refrigerator, but she still had the strawberry shortcake to make. I was fixing a classic though chunky version of Spanish cold Gazpacho soup. That was a lot of work getting that ready; just a load of chopping and then mixing of ingredients.

So, while the Gazpacho sat, ingredients melding together, Sue and I went out onto the deck and started playing backgammon and enjoying the afternoon weather.

As folks arrived, they swapped into the couple of boards that we had going. Everyone had a good time, and Sue's sangria was a huge hit! We ate around 7:20pm and got the movie of the night, the 2009 A Perfect Getaway, which turned out to be a really, really good thriller.

08/11/13: Sunday Kayaking The Cocheco River
What was supposed to be a rainy weekend from the early forecasts turned out far better than we could have imagined. Sue just couldn't wait to get the kayaks loaded on top of the car Sunday morning to head out.

Since we weren't real sure how the morning weather would be, we hadn't really decided where we'd go. So, as we got all the gear together, Current Picture Sue ran down a couple of ideas. She had mentioned doing the Cocheco River up off of County Farm Road. So, as soon as we could, we drove over there and were in the water by around 11:00am.

We paddled up about 2.5 miles, maybe a little less than that, before turning around and heading back. Sue thought there was another launch area further along, but arms get tired and we decided that a shower and glass of wine were beckoning us more than finding that launch. Maybe some other time....

And that's just what we did: when we got home we took showers and then went out on the deck, sipped some wine, had some snacks, and played about 5 sets of backgammon. The breeze was so nice, and the crickets and birds were chirping away that it was just a really perfect summer afternoon. We were both really tired, so we ate early and then watched the 2009 movie Amelia before turning in for the night.

08/15/13: Marissa and Gary Close On New Home
Today was the big day for my daughter Marissa and her husband Gary as they closed on their new home in Rochester, NH.

Current Picture

08/24/13: Picking Peaches and Jim Brickman In Concert
What does picking peaches and Jim Brickman have in common? Nothing. But then again.... Actually, we did both on the same day! Current Picture First, we went to pick peaches at Butternut Farms. We drove out Dover, NH's 6th Street all the way up into Gonic, NH and then over to the farm where we picked a couple of bags of peaches.

We took some of the secenic backroads home, stopping for lunch at a Wendy's restaurant at the Lee Circle. Because we had just wanted to have a quick dinner of steak and salad before heading off to the concert, we stopped and shopped for the weekend as well.

We should have headed off into Portsmouth earlier than when we did at 7:00pm because the traffic was some of the worst I've ever seen. The downtown parking garage was full, as were a few of the other major lots. It's a good thing I knew some alternatives because we didn't have too far to walk to The Music Hall where Jim Brickman was playing a concert.

We enjoyed the Brickman concert so much that not only did I buy a CD collection of his greatest hits, but, when we got home, Sue poured us out small glasses of liquor and we listened to about 4 of his works before heading off to bed around midnight.

And that's what picking peaches and Jim Brickman have in common, okay?

08/27/13: Midweek Dinner to Marissa and Gary's New Home
Marissa and Gary invited us to dinner and to see their new home in Rochester, NH on Tuesday night, 08/27/13. Current Picture

Because the Spaulding was backed up when we left here at 5:30pm after Sue got home from work, we took old Rt. 108 into Rochester. Besides being a pretty drive, there was little traffic, and we arrived about on time.

After getting the tour, we chatted in the kitchen over some wine as Marissa finished cooking dinner. She made a great pork roast with potatoes and a Caesar salad.

Their friend, Rickey who lives with them, was able to join us for dinner. After we all ate, he and Gary started laying out some new floor tiles in different formations by the side door entry way to the kitchen.

The plan is to do the kitchen and dining room floors with that Allure wood flooring product that's so neat and will tie in great with their tile selection. It'll look fantastic when it's done. We told them we'd be back for another dinner to inspect the floor and the new dining room table they were expecting.

08/30/13: Visiting Alan and Abbie Labor Day Weekend
Just before the Labor Day weekend, Sue spotted an incredible last minute deal on Southwest, booked it for us, and on Friday morning 08/30/13 Current Picture Sue and I flew down to Baltimore to visit my brother Alan and his wife Abbie who live in Towson, MD.

For Friday night's dinner, we fixed Linguine with Shrimp And Lemony Kale Pesto while listening to the Jim Brickman's Greatest Hits CD that we had brought with us.

Saturday morning, Alan drove us over to the nearby Ladew Gardens, known as one of the country's most spectacular topiary gardens where we wandered around for a few hours, Sue taking more than her share of pictures. We had such a good time, that I was about a half hour late in getting started with the dinner prep work. I fixed Moroccan Chicken with Apricot and Olive Relish that came out just great.

Not knowing how the traffic would be Sunday on a Labor Day weekend, Alan took us to the airport early. Amazingly, there was not only little traffic, but the airport was hardly busy at all.

Monday we slept in a little, did some laundry, and just knocked around a little before heading out to grab a few things for the week. For dinner, I just stir fried some zucchini, scallions, green beans, garlic, fresh farm tomatoes, and some herbs, and we finished off the night with the wonderful 1989 movie Driving Miss Daisy.

09/07/13: Kayaking on the Merrymeeting River
Saturday 09/07, Sue and I headed out mid morning for the drive up to Alton, NH. I had wanted to see what the Merrymeeting river was like that Sue had been describing to me. Though the weekend after Labor Day, it was still only Current Picture about an hours drive.

Though the weather was somewhat cloudy, that kept the heat down. That was nice because the Merrymeeting meanders rather aimlessly through a large expanse of low wetlands. If the sun would have been out, I wouldn't have enjoyed it at all. There is virtually no where to duck under some tree shade until you get further down the river.

We paddled a couple of hours up, kind of poking along the shore so Sue could get some pictures of the plant life. The trip back was much faster as the wind was behind us and sort of pushed us along.

We got back fairly late in the afternoon, showered up, and then went down to one of the local Italian restaurants, Patty B's, for a glass of wine and nice dinner along the river in downtown Dover.

09/13/13: Friday Night Dinner With Arlingtons
Sue and I were finally able to get together for dinner at the Galley Hatch Restaurant in Hampton, NH with my very old and dear friends, Charlie and Cindy Arlington. Charlie is a 2nd Degree Black Belt and disciple. He took karate from me for years in the late 1970s and early 1980s until he re-injured an old sports injury. But, we have remained in contact over the years. Though Charlie had met Sue once, she was excited to finally meet Cindy. We had a nice meal and relaxing conversation.

09/14/13: Plum Island Nature Explore
Sue wanted to catch the late afternoon sun dropping behind the trees down at Plum Island outside of Newburyport, MA. We left the house around 2:00pm Current Picture and did a short stop in Exeter before continuing South.

From the front gate of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge out to the far tip of the island is a 7 mile drive, about the last quarter of which is a rough, gravel road.

We were out on the beach a little after 4:00pm, hoping that as the afternoon wore on that the intermittent cloud cover would dissipate enough for some good pictures. After walking for a little bit, I parked it on one of the benches while Sue wandered down the beach with her camera.

By the time we got back to the Dover area it was around dinner time, so we stopped off at Momma D's Italian Restaurant in Newington, NH for a quick dinner and glass of wine.

09/15/13: Relaxing Sunday Drive Around Barrington, NH Area
Sunday was such a nice day that we decided to take a drive along some of the back roads in Barrington, NH. Barrington takes up a huge area, with many pretty secluded rural areas to explore. We toured around Swains Lake and then worked our way back to Dover.

Lots of driving the last couple of days, so Sue wanted to take a short hike through the Bellamy River Wildlife Sanctuary before going shopping. It was amazing how much the brush and small saplings had grown since we had last been out there. And though the sun was out, the air had a comfortable warmth to it.

For dinner, we each had components to do. Sue made an unbelievably good homemade macaroni and cheese dish, and I fixed marvelous chicken breasts stuffed with herbs, sun dried tomatoes, olives, and goat cheese. And the movie of the night was the really well done 2012 Quartet.

09/21/13: The Great 2013 Talk Like A Pirate Backgammon Tournament And Cuban Black Bean Stew Surprise!
Saturday night 09/21/13 Sue and I hosted The Great 2013 Talk Like A Pirate Backgammon Tournament And Cuban Black Bean Stew Surprise!. Though a small party, we all had a great time. We started out with a new rum drink concoction that Sue had found; very pirate like!

Not only had Sue finished making a great pineapple upside-down cake by the time the party started, I had the stew in the oven baking by 4:00pm.

By 4:15, Sue fixed us up a couple of her rum drinks, and we went out on the deck and started playing backgammon. We ate around 6:30pm and were able to finish up the movie of the night by 9:30pm. Another relaxing backgammon dinner party!

09/28/13: Craft Fair and Celebration Dinner
Saturday morning, Sue and I drove over to the Hamilton House in South Berwick, ME. It was a beautiful fall day to go over and visit their annual charity craft and art fair. After spending a couple of hours there and grabbing hot dogs and a lemonade, we drove back home, and took care of some projects,

We got changed up and then left the house around 4:30pm for a scenic drive along Rt. 4 and then up Rt. 107 into Laconia, NH. We had been invited to a celebration dinner for my disciple Russ Jones for the attainment of his 5th Degree Black Belt Master promotion at the 2013 Master Candidate Review back in May.

We got up into the area a little early and Sue, who's fairly familiar with Laconia, showed me around as all the times I've been to Laconia has been focused to just a few specific destinations. It's a lovely, small town of about 16,000 that swells to many, many times that during the summer due to its location right on New Hampshire's largest lake, Lake Winnipesaukee and other smaller lakes with very close proximity to Winnisquam Lake, Paugus Bay, as well as the Gunstock Mountain ski area.

We enjoyed everyone's company and conversation as well listening to the music of several of Russ's students who are talented musicians, each playing a short set during the evening. The event was held at the Shang Hai Chinese Restaurant, and our group filled one of the side dining rooms. A very nice evening of camaraderie.

09/29/13: Sue Picks Another Winning Dinner Recipe
Sunday turned out to be such a beautiful day that Sue and I headed out around 1:00pm to take a scenic fall foliage drive out Toland Road and into the Barrington, NH area. The leaves are just beginning to turn and so this was a great opportunity for us to catch it at this stage.

Our plan is to take similar, but longer, day trips over the next few weekends to experience the beauty of the change of the seasons in New Hampshire. In the past, we might have gone up into the White Mountains area or into the Franconia, NH region, and stayed over a couple of nights. However, this year we decided to forego all of that expense for the simple joy of being able to not only drive to many different places, but to also get away from all the bustle of the tourist rush.

Anyway, when we got back from our drive and picking up a few things at the store for dinner, the weather was so nice, that we sat out on the deck and read for awhile before pouring out some wine and playing a few sets of backgammon.

Sue had found this amazing recipe for chicken in a basil, thyme, oregano, and balsamic wine rub with diced tomatoes that we just had to try. So, about 5:30pm we headed into the kitchen and we got that ready together and simmering. Sue fixed some fresh corn on the cob that we had bought, and dinner was ready by 6:30pm. It was sooooo good! That's one we'll have to do again, for sure.

We ended up the evening with the 2013 movie The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio, who, in my opinion, did a pretty good job in the role. But the real wow factor of the movie was the lavish party scenes, and the mix of the era with some really good contemporary, driving, music that was a mix of jazz, hip-hop, ballad, and club; just great stuff. I really liked it but not sure Sue was a particularly strong fan.

10/05/13: Apple Picking and Hiking Up Blue Job Mountain
Saturday 10/05/13, Sue drove us up to Farmington, NH off Meaderboro Road to Butternut Farms to pick apples and get a couple of pumpkins for our front porch.

It wasn't too crowded when we got there about 11:00am. Current Picture It was a beautiful day, with just a little crispness in the air. A picture perfect Fall day. Sue got some Red Delicious that she made apple crisp Sunday morning. She also wanted to try their Honey Crisp apples. We couldn't believe how smooth tasting they were: not tart or sharp acidic as sometimes you find other apples,

From there, we drove over to Blue Job Mountain, arriving around 12:30pm. And when we crested onto the top of the mountain we were met with an unbelievable 360 degree panoramic view from Mt. Washington to the north, Mt. Monadnock to the west and Atlantic Ocean to the east.

10/06/13: First Fire of the Season
We woke up Sunday to misty rain that pretty much stayed that way through out the day. But that was fine. Sue had planned for it: just a lazy stay at home inside day to get a lot of stuff done. I've been designing and writing the computer code for a new web based business application, so I was able to make a lot of progress on that while Sue fixed apple crisp, worked on some of her projects, and did some reading.

But, about 4:00pm it was time to open a bottle wine, get the crackers and dip out, and play some backgammon. While Sue got the crackers and dip organized, 'City Boy', that would be me..., built our first fire of the season in the fireplace. A total success, and we enjoyed the nice warmth that it threw off for the entire evening.

Sue had found this interesting sounding recipe for Pork Chops With Apple Cider Glaze that I made while she prepared oven baked squash and thyme steamed broccoli. A terrific success, and a meal we'll have to have again because it was so good! We ended off the evening with the 2013 movie, Behind the Candelabra with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. What a performance by Michael Douglas! You might not care for Liberace or his biography, but Douglas's performance should win him an Oscar. I just thought it was that compelling, regardless of it being a movie about Liberace....

10/12/13: Columbus Day Weekend Fall Foliage Drive To Barnstead Area
Sue and I headed out Saturday morning 10/12/13 west over Rt. 9 to Rt. 126 toward Barnstead, NH to check out the fall foliage over that way. Our area in Dover and the Seacoast appears to be pretty much at full peak, so we expected really brilliant colors as we drove west and slightly north. And it was full, but not at the peak that we had thought it would be.

We wandered around a lot of the back roads all over the area, finding all sorts of really beautiful scenery. From Barnstead, we took Rt. 28 north and drove around both Locke Lake and Halfmoon Lake. Both are really pretty lakes, though where developed the houses are pretty close.

On the way home, we stopped off and did the food shopping so we wouldn't have to go out Monday. We had my karate disciple Rick Downs and our friend Linda over for pizza, that they ended up bringing, and to see the pictures they had taken of their recent trip with both their dogs out to the Cape. And the movie of the night was the excellent, 2013 World War Z. That was an action movie with a great plot and super special effects. Outstanding!

10/13/13: Columbus Day Weekend Fall Foliage Drive To New London Area
Sue had been telling me for quite awhile how beautiful the areas further north and west of Rt. 93 were, so Sunday 10/13/13 we headed out about 8:30 for a Fall foliage drive to New London, NH.

Our first goal was to get to Dunbarton as Sue had always wanted to see it. Very beautiful, with large stately homes set back on well kept expansive lawns. We took a few of the back roads to see more of that area before continuing to Hopkinton, NH, a beautiful little village, and then on to Current Picture Contoocook, NH, another place we wanted to see. From Contoocook, we wandered Rt. 103 up to Warner, NH.

Though New London was our original goal, Sue suggested that we continue further up on Rt. 114 and into Springfield, NH as as far north as we wanted to go. From there, we wound our way down onto Rt. 11 all the way into Franklin, NH and then Tilton. Sue suggested that we might be close enough to check out the Steel Hill Inn Resort that we had tried to find the last time we were up in Laconia.

We headed home over Rt. 11A East that goes through Gilford and the Gunstock Ski area. I was surprised that we didn't run into more leaf-peeper traffic, but even coming down from Alton, NH on Rt. 11 and then onto the Spaulding Turnpike we didn't experience any traffic at all. I wonder how bad those roads were Monday with everyone streaming home. Must have been a mess.

Monday, Sue and I just stayed in and poked around rather than trying to go anywhere. A nice relaxing day to over 450 miles of driving through the beautiful back roads of New Hampshire!.Sue and I listend to CDs while we jointly cooked up a wonderful Chicken Pot Pie. We ended off the evening with just some mindless tv.

10/19/13: Relaxing Birthday Weekend
I had some flowers sent over to Sue's office Friday 10/18 for her birthday, but we just sort of hung out for the night, played some backgammon, and watched some mindless tv. Current Picture

We headed out late Saturday morning to do some food shopping and then into Portsmouth to the Halloween Store to find some small things for an upcoming party.

From there, we drove down to Odiorne Point State Park so Sue could take a long walk with her camera while I sat by the water and did some re-reading on James Rickards book, Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis.

Rather than trudging along next to her, interrupting her with silly photography composition questions, I just opted to stay under the radar and let her spend her birthday doing what she does best: finding the little interesting things that Nature pops up at you and capturing them in a picture.

We took our time heading back from the park, and decided since we were along the coast that we'd stop for an early dinner at Margaritas Mexican Restaurant in Portsmouth.

10/20/13: Annual UNH Fall Walkabout
Sunday 10/20/13, we headed out around noon for my Annual UNH Walkabout though campus. Sue got some great pictures. Current Picture It was really nice just walking along and kicking through the leaves on such a beautiful New England Fall day.

We got back home at 2:30 and I started the turkey prep work. For her birthday dinner, Sue had asked me to fix my version of Chef James Haller's turkey from his restaurant days running The Blue Strawberry restaurant in Portsmouth.

While the turkey was cooking, I lit a fire, and we went into the living room to sip some wine and play a few sets of backgammon before eating at around 7:30pm. The turkey turned out great! In fact, enough for sandwiches for my upcoming karate disciple retreat as well as some homemade soup! The movie of night was the entertaining 2005 Sandra Bullock movie, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous.

10/25/13: 2013 Annual Karate Disciple Retreat
Friday morning at 8am 10/25/13, my disciples started arriving for my 2013 Annual Karate Disciple Retreat. They were tasked to bring in the coffee and donuts, but after years of hauling in big boxes of Dunkin Donuts coffee, they bought Sue and I a new Keurig brewing machine. Current Picture We got that going quickly and were well into the retreat by 8:45am.

During the retreat, Master Tim House, as spokesperson for the C&S Self Defense Association Governing Council, presented me with a plaque inducting me into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame as a registered Grandmaster. It is such an honor to be recognized by my peers for accomplishments they feel warrant such attention.

This was the first time in more than a dozen years or more that I had invited one of my students to attend this retreat to evaluate him for 2nd Degree Black Belt and thus to become my disciple in the White Cobra under C&S Self Defense Association. Brian Serven, also an accomplished yoga practitioner and teacher, held his own with not only myself but also all of my other disciples that could attend, 3 of who are at the 5th degree black belt master level. Not an easy crowd to impress, but Brian did just great and received his promotion and acceptance as my disciple.

Retreats are extremely busy, with just barely time to stop for food, though Saturday afternoon there was some socialization time as I prepared dinner. Sunday morning after everyone grabbed their coffee, I got right down to my last presentation, closing the retreat around 11:30am.

10/29/13: Halloween Pumpkin Carving
When Sue got home from work Tuesday evening 10/29/13, we carved the two pumpkins that we had bought out at Butternut Farms a couple of weeks ago. Current Picture

They had just been sitting out on the front steps, and were calling out to be carved!

11/02/13: The Great 2013 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Adams Broken Ribs Screamer Party!
On Saturday evening 11/02/13 Sue and I held The Great 2013 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Adams Broken Ribs Screamer Party! Though a small group, we had a great time! We got back from shopping around 2:00pm Current Picture and had to get right to getting the food going.

We were fixing Adams Broken Ribs which requires both a herb rub as well as a glaze. They had to be seared in the broiler before they were put in to bake in a 275 degree oven for three and a half hours.

As I was doing all of that, Sue was baking a bunch of Severed Finger Sugar Cookies for desert. Those got done just before I had to bake the ribs, so the timing was perfect! In fact, once the ribs were in the oven baking, Sue and I got a chance to go out in the living room and play a couple of sets of backgammon before Rick and Linda arrived.

Then, the girls decided they had to make up a batch of Cape Codders and got into all that. And, yes, I ended up having a couple as well because the wine just wasn't making it for some reason against the high spiced flavor of the ribs.

We finished off the night with the 1980 classic Jack Nicholson movie, The Shining, which I hadn't seen in quite a few years and was just as good as it could be.

11/10/13: Karate Pending Black Belt Exams and Snow In The Mountains
Sunday Nov. 10, I was in Laconia, NH to participate as the head examiner on a board testing 4 students for the rank of Pending Black Belt in C&S Self Defense Association. It's always an honor to participate in these exams and see how a student presents the material that they have worked on for many, many years.

Two of my senior black belts, 5th Degree Black Belt Master Tim House Current Picture and 3rd Degree Black Belt Rick Downs, and my new disciple 2nd Degree Black Belt Brian Serven picked me up at my house in Dover at 6:30am Sunday morning.

Rather than risk potential Veterans Day holiday traffic on the Spaulding Turnpike, we drove out Rt. 4 and took Rt. 107 up through Pittsfield, NH and into Laconia. While there was a light dusting of snow in the Pittsfield area, when we drove up the hills through Gilmanton, NH, the roads became icy. There was not only a beautiful white covering of snow across all of the trees, but there was a half inch or so of snow blanketing the ground. Very pretty, but it did slow us up.

We arrived at the test site just before 8:00am and got right to it. The exam was intense, as these tend to be, and lasted until almost 6:00pm; a long day for all. It was a pleasure to see the growth in all of these fine students, and to be part of their success.

11/16/13: Sunset Over Great Bay Photography Adventure
Saturday afternoon 11/16/13, Current Picture Sue and I bundled up and drove over to Adams Point on Great Bay to the Jackson Estuarine Research Laboratory.

There are all sorts of trails through out the 80 acre Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, one of which we took, and goes down to the bay and hugs the shoreline, circling the entire peninsula.

The diversity of colors in not only the sky but across the gently rippling waters of the bay were something I've never experienced.

11/23/13: MNG: Movie Night at The Garrison: Pacific Rim
I've been wanting to see the new Si-Fi/monster movie Pacific Rim for awhile. Since I just knew Sue would be disgusted with it (she would have!), I waited to watch it until she took another long waited for overnight trip down to RI to visit with her daughter. So, Friday 11/23/13, Rick Downs and David Duquenne came over for pizza and the movie. We all agreed that though it was in many places hokey beyond belief, the special effects were worth it. This is probably a 3 beer movie that I only had 1, so that may have slanted my view of it....

11/28/13: Thanksgiving Trip to The Cape
Sue and I left early Thanksgiving morning Thursday 11/28/13 and headed to Cape Cod, MA for the long holiday weekend.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at noon at Hearth and Current Picture Kettle in Plymouth, MA after touring the Pilgrim Plantation. After dinner we went to the Grist Mill and then Mayflower II before going to Hyannis, MA where our hotel was. Friday we drove out to Provincetown along the shore road 28, taking about 3 hours stopping off around different towns and lighthouses.

We got back home early Saturday afternoon, unpacked, and went food shopping for the week. Then, City Boy built a fire in the fireplace, we had a glass of wine, and played backgammon for about an hour before fixing spaghetti and garlic bread for dinner.

12/07/13: Saturday Drive to Tamworth and Plymouth
[*** Pictures Coming *** ] After Sue got home from work Friday night we just had a nice, relaxing night at home playing backgammon, having spaghetti, and watching the really entertaining 2011 Matt Damon movie We Bought A Zoo.

Saturday morning we drove up to Tamworth, NH to take Sue's mom for a drive while Sue's brother and Tim replaced her oil tank. We took Rt. 25 through Moultonborough, Center Harbor, Holderness, Ashland, and finally north into Plymouth.

Before doing some shopping with Sue's mom, Sue wanted to go to he cemetery where her dad was buried that she hadn't been to in years. We found it at IIIB, and Sue left a home made cranberry wreath on the headstone, which had an etching of a picture of her dad's logging truck on it.

What a great, great ride. Rt. 25 is really a pretty road, though would be jammed during tourist seasons as it's the major East/West connector from both North/South roads of 16 and 93. We didn't get home until 6:00pm so just threw a pizza in the oven and watched the fun 2012 Michael Douglas action drama movie The Sentinel.

12/12/13: Thursday's Flat Tire Adventure
I got a flat tire Thursday morning going into Portsmouth to take my New Hampshire Real Estate Broker Re-certification course. The tire is a mess; totally chewed up. I got it changed but was 20 minutes late for class; not a good way to start the day or weekend....

12/13/13: Friday Night Quick Dinner Out
I dropped my car off at Colin's work to fix my flat late Friday afternoon. He was going to get my snow tires on in the next week anyway, so the timing was good for that as well as an oil change.

Sue picked me up after she got out of work at 5:00pm, and we stopped off at The 99 Restaurant for dinner. We were just going to get a glass of wine and a burger, but they had a prime rib special going and it had been a long, long time since we'd had that. Done deal, and though a lot more food than we're used to, it was just what we needed. Other than one time out for dinner at Thanksgiving, it's been a long time. So this was a real treat, and relatively inexpensive.

By the time we got home, we were both pretty beat. We played a couple of sets of backgammon and then finished off the night with a little HGTV House Hunters and HGTV Extreme Homes. As soon as my head hit the pillow just after 10:00pm, I was out and slept really well. I guess I needed that....

12/14/13: Getting This Year's Christmas Tree
Saturday morning, Colin and Ren came over about 10:30am and we all went out to get a Christmas tree; they had already gotten theirs. We got it from a local source so didn't take long to get back to the house. Current Picture Sue had fixed a corn chowder for lunch, so we all had a really nice visit after getting the tree set up in its stand.

It's been really cold lately, down around 12F, and we're supposed to get hit with a major snow storm late evening. The projection is for 5 to 8 inches, though could go to a foot.

After Colin and Ren left, I brought a couple of loads of wood in for the fire place so I wouldn't have to trudge out to the garage in a storm. I lit the fire around 4:30, and Sue and I got into some late afternoon backgammon, had a simple dinner, and watched the 1970 Jack Nicholson movie, Five Easy Pieces.

It started snowing lightly later in the evening, but didn't really start to come down until we had gone to bed.

12/15/13: Snowshoeing and Decorating the Tree In a Snowstorm
When we got up Sunday morning there was a foot or more of light fluffy snow. Though the bulk of the storm was over, it continued to snow lightly for most of the day.

After breakfast, Sue had some things that she wanted to get done and I did all the prep work on a crock pot beef tips stew for dinner. I got it going by 10:30am so it had the whole day to cook as Sue and I got some of the decorating for the holidays done. Current Picture

We bundled up and headed out about 2:30pm to Wagon Hill to do some snowshoeing. The overcast sky blending in with the stark white new fallen snow mixed with the different shades of gray trees topped with snow was spectacular as we plowed through a foot of light snow.

Sue got some wonderful pictures of the fields as well as along the shoreline of the Great Bay Estuary.

After putting the snowshoes, poles, and other gear away, I got a fire going in the fireplace. I put Sue's Jim Brickman Christmas CD on, and we listed to that as we strung some lights on the tree and placed a few other decorations around.

12/17/13: Tuesday Night Snowstorm Adventure
Tuesday we got hit with another snowstorm. It really came down most of the day. By the time Sue got home, it was so beautiful out that we decided to take a drive and maybe gets some pictures of Christmas lights in the storm.

It was slow going as the plows were struggling to keep the roads clear. We drove into Durham, NH as we thought that might be pretty even though most of the campus had emptied out for the holidays. But there was little to see. We turned South on Mill Road as we had never been out that way. I figured that it looped around and folded back onto Rt. 108. But I was wrong. I was really wrong...

We ended up swinging west before looping back onto Rt. 108 in Newmarket; about a 45 minute drive in the blinding snow, which was falling pretty heavily by then.

Unfortunately, Sue didn't see anything worth taking a picture other than a few things, but they just didn't come out. But it was a beautiful drive! A little exhausting, but beautiful. So, it was good to get home and then settle into watching the first few episodes of season 4 of Justified, just one of the best series I've ever seen.

12/20/13: Into a Freezing Rain Weekend
Friday, a major ice and snow storm swept across the Midwest and began growling toward New England. This is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year with projections estimate of 94 million folks traveling. The storm shut down many of the major airports, and Public Service of NH has emailed and left voice mail messages alerting everyone to a potential major threat.

As we watched the news, it appeared that North of Boston and along the coast would be by-passed. However, when we got up Sunday morning, tens of thousands west and north of us had lost power and PSNH crews were all over the place.

Because of the storm threats south of us we had decided not to go down to RI just to be safe; sort of a last minute decision. We just ducked out for an early 5:30pm dinner so that if things did suddenly start to get bad, we'd be able to get home. It all worked out fine, but it did start to rain fairly consistently later that evening.

We drove down to Kittery, ME to have dinner at Tulsi, an Indian restaurant. Because of the storm, not many had come in by the time we left around 7pm. It's a little different style of Indian cooking. Sue had goat curry and I had a little too spicy lamb dish. Neither of us thought the goat curry was quite as tasty as the one she had at Cafe Mo-Mo in Manchester, and I really didn't care all that much for my dinner. We'd both like to try it again and try some of their vegetable dishes and see how they were. Very pretty place though, quaint and warm feeling inside. After we got home, we watched the rather lame and forgettable 2012 The Place Beyond the Pines.

12/21/13: Sunday Drive Out Sixth Street
Sunday, the weather changed back and forth from overcast to heavy mist. It was so pretty that we decided to take a scenic drive out Dover's Sixth Street to Gonic, NH, over to Rochester, NH and then back home through Berwick, ME and Somersworth, NH.

When we got home, we finished wrapping gifts as that had got put to the side. Now, we're done and ready for Christmas! I lit a fire, and Sue and I played a few sets of backgammon until I had to start the food prep for dinner: a marvelous shrimp, snow pea, and broccoli stir fry. We finished off the night with the really good 1987 movie La Bamba.

12/24/13: Christmas Eve Dinner
Colin and Ren were able to join Sue and I for Christmas Eve dinner after Colin got out of work. They got here just as Sue and I were finishing off a rather hotly contested set of backgammon games. We had a wonderful time Current Picture just visiting and catching up on things while the Beef Bourguignon simmered.

Dinner came out great, and we all had more than enough to eat. Sue had made a terrific cranberry cheese cake desert that we had after opening gifts - a simple, few things rather than any of us getting caught up in the all too normal commercialized 'shop 'til you drop' frenzy.

At 8:30pm we all got in front of the computer monitor and did a Skype video session with my brother Alan and his two sons and their families. It was great seeing them all and hearing how their Christmas was going.

12/25/13: Christmas Day
Sue and I left the house Wednesday morning Christmas Day at 9:30am and headed off to meet her daughter Jill in Framingham, MA, about half way between Dover, NH and Westerly, RI. It's over an hour and a half drive, and so Sue had made 11:30am reservations at the Legal Seafoods restaurant there as it was one of the few restaurants that were open Christmas Day.

We all had a nice 2 hour lunch and conversation before Sue and I headed back home. It was about 3:30pm as we came up to the Hampton tolls on Rt. 95. Sue thought the setting sun against the cloudy sky might provide some nice photo opportunities. We pulled off of the highway and headed down to Hampton Beach where we turned onto Rt. 1A North along the shore.

Though a nice drive, the sun became obscured behind the clouds that were preceding an oncoming snow storm, so she didn't get any pictures. We got home about 4:30pm, I lit a fire, poured some wine, and we played several sets of backgammon until 6:00pm.

Though we were still pretty full from the big lunch, we were just hungry enough that grilled cheese sandwiches hit the spot. We finished off the night with the really lovely and entertaining 2006 movie The Holiday.

12/28/13: Snowshoeing At Bellamy River Wildlife Sanctuary
Saturday 12/28/13, Sue and I grabbed our gear and went snowshoeing at the Bellamy River Wildlife Sanctuary off Back River Road here in Dover. The sun had been out and temps were mild enough that I had to take off my ski hat and scarf. It was surprising how much of the snow had melted away over the last couple of days. Most of where we hiked there was a thin crust over the top of the snow.

We stopped off at the food store to shop on the way home. After putting the groceries away, I got a fire going in the fireplace, and Sue and I settled in for a glass of wine and what turned out to be a brutal series of backgammon games. In response to my whining (I was 6 points down and suffering), she just smiled and said, "You have to pay for your fears". Great. Just what I needed to hear.

12/29/13: To Tamworth, NH For Sue's Mom's Birthday
[*** Pictures Coming ***] Sue and I headed out Sunday morning 12/29/13 for Tamworth, NH where Sue's mom lives. Sue had bought her a new chair as a combined Christmas and birthday gift.

We drove her down to Jake's Restaurant at 11:30am where we met up with Sue's brother Alan and his wife Joann, and Sue's mom's sister Carol for an early lunch. It was great just sitting around and chatting with everyone at Jake's, a really nice little restaurant. We took Sue's mom back home around 1:30pm, and headed back for Dover.

We had wanted to do an early lunch because the weather forecast was for a big snowstorm with a potential 6 to 8 inches of heavy snow to start sometime late Sunday afternoon. Coupled with that would no doubt be heavy after Christmas holiday traffic heading back from the White Mountains recreation areas.

However, because there was no snow and the traffic was getting a little busy on Rt. 16 around Union, we hopped off onto Rt. 153 West, and then jumped to Rt. 125 South into Rochester, NH, coming into Dover over Pickering Road, Sixth Street.

We got home around 4:00pm, and after catching up on back emails, I lit a fire in the fireplace, and we settled in for the rest of the day. We played backgammon, and I was able to gain some self respect back by at least getting a 1 point lead by the time we stopped to have a light dinner around 6:30pm as neither of us were too hungry from the rather large lunch at Jake's.

12/31/13: New Year's Eve
Before Sue got home from work, I started the prep work on tonight's dinner, my mom's ham and noodle casserole. I also used some of the ham to fix Master Chef James Haller's (of the fameous Blue Strawberry restaurant in Portsmouth, NH) recipe for pea soup. That all ended up being just a little more involved than I had anticipated. So, while I finished all that up, the two of us sipped on a gift bottle of Decoy Cabernet from her friend Gale and listened to the Michael Jackson CD, This Is It.

After getting the soup on - it had to simmer for several hours - I lit a fire in the fireplace, and we enjoyed playing several sets of backgammon while listening to Sade and John Tesh's wonderfully inspiring DVD Worship At Red Rocks.

After dinner, we watched the entertaining 2000 Nicolas Cage movie The Family Man, and sharing a small bottle of Champaign. We turned on ABC's Dick Clark's Rocking New Year's Eve with Ryan Seacrest at 11:00pm and watched that until the ball dropped. We hung on until about 12:30am to watch Billy Joel perform, and then went to bed. A good day and peaceful New Year's Eve.