Friday, November 30, 2012

I've Been Walking on the Railroad

Recently Tom, one of of newest residents, took a walk down the Rockingham Railroad Trail and would like to share it with us. Click here for his description and pictures.

If  anyone else has pictures and/or stories they would like to share, let me know via email or the website contact form.  You don't have be a tech wizard.  Here's a web page version and a PDF version. I'll be happy to help you get it into a format that we can share online.

Thanks, Tom!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sherwood Glen Fall Festival 2012

Fall Festival...  Octoberfest...  Halloween dinner... I don't know what the official name was for tonight's gathering, but the food was great, the conversation was better, and the auction was a success! Thanks to Judy for organizing the event, and thanks to everyone who set up and cleaned up.  A million thanks to everyone who shared their cooking skills and re-gifed their prized possessions for the auction. Thanks for attending and thanks for whatever I forgot to thank you for!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We have to age, but don't have to grow old!

As many of you know, Peter and Nonal Hubbard put on a demonstration on how to get the most out of our fitness center, but it was more than that.  Peter's approach to fitness for the our 55+ community is really sound.  It focuses on strengthening all muscles with an emphasis on core muscles, and it's very doable with the equipment in the fitness center.

His philosophy stresses that it's not about the weight you lift.  It's about being able to lift your grandchildren when the time comes. You have to age, but you don't have to grow old.

The video below is intended to do two things.  First,  it will serve as a refresher for those of us who attended, and it will give other viewers a flavor of what the workshop was about.

The video is NOT intended to be instructional.  It doesn't contain safety tips, amount of weight, frequency, and dozens of other things provided during the hour. 

Click here for PDF printed version

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tires at Pep Boys

When I lived in NJ, I went to the same tire dealer for more than 20 years. Now that I live in NH, I was concerned about finding a reputable dealer here in NH.

After pricing tires online, and checking with my dealer back in NJ, it looked like Pep Boys in Manchester was the best deal. They were running a buy 3 and get one free deal with a mail in rebate. 

The next thing I did was to check reviews on Google and Yelp. Most of the reviews were scathing. However, having worked in retail, I knew that you have to read between the lines. People who have good experiences are far less likely to write reviews than those who have bad one. Some bad ones seemed legitimate, while others were sour grape or nut cases. 

I came to the conclusion that this was probably not the place to get serious work done, but I have a lifetime warranty on my car and have all work done by Chrysler. Since this was just tires, I decided to give them a try.

I made my appointment and was told to ask for Mike when I came in. That put up a red flag which suggested commission sales, and I fully expected to experience some up sales attempts.  People may get annoyed at this sort of thing, but it's business and as long as they aren't trying to sell you something you don't or won't need shortly, I can live with it, because I know enough to tell whether I really need the item.

When I arrived, Mike took care of me quickly and professionally. He told me that it would take about an hour. They has free Internet, so I went over to the waiting area and began writing this review.

The car went in immediately, and shortly thereafter, Mike came out and said that my tires were badly wore on the outsides and that I suggested a front end alignment. 

Here's where it was important that I knew about cars. I knew this was an attempt to sell me something I didn't really need. Yes, they were badly worn, but I knew the reason was my lack or diligence in keeping them inflated.  The fact is that the wear was even on all four tires.  Anyone who understands tire wear due to improper inflation vs alignment problems, would see that.  However, I don't really fault them for making the attempt.

To Mike's credit, after I explained my reason for not wanting an alignment, he made no further attempt to convince me and didn't attempt to up sell anything else.

Less than a half hour later, the car was done.  However, since I needed tires because of my lack of attention to tire pressure, the first thing I did was to check the pressure. According to the tire pressure readout on the car's computer they were over inflated. 

I took the opportunity to have them check the pressure so that I could compare the computer readout to the manual check.  It turned out that they were over inflated, by a few pounds.  In their defense, because of the wear, I had them over inflated when I bought them in and that might be why they added a few pounds.

They had the best price, but until I checked out, I didn't realize that they offered free lifetime rotation and balancing every 6000 miles.  I already had cheap $15 rotation and balance through Foss Motors, where I bought the car. But free is much better than $15 and it will result in about a $150 saving over the life of the tire.

With all things considered, I was pleased with the experience.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Visit to Wellfleet and Provincetown

The day after Memorial Day, Jill and I headed to Wellfleet, MA. My sister and brother-in-law were visiting their friends John and Susan, and we took the opportunity to visit with them. John and Susan were gracious enough to invite us to sleep over, which allowed us to have a very relaxing and enjoyable visit. After settling in to our temporary digs, John drove us all to take a look at Provincetown.

I took a few pictures and turned them into the video below. They in no way do justice to the town, because we weren't there long enough and I only took a few shots, but I'm posting it for a reason.

In the last few frames, you'll see some pictures of what appears to be a houseboat moored in the harbor. I didn't have a chance to talk to any of the locals and I'm curious as to whether there might be an interesting story behind it. If you can provide any information, that would be cool!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Animals of Sherwood Glen

This is just a little slide show of some of the animals around the pond at Sherwood Glen. Almost all these shots were taken in the past month or two. There are two or three from last year.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Road Trip Part Two

Yesterday, we went on a road trip via GPS. We traveled back country roads and found that when the GPS wasn't telling us to make right turns on to foot paths, it was directing us to drive 2.3 miles through the woods. As a result, we only make it to 4 of the 7 points I had plotted. Today we decided to try to see the other half. We started at point 7 and headed backward. I'm happy to say that things went better today. It only took us down two unpaved roads, but both of them connected to paved roads and unlike yesterday, we were able to get there from here.

Before heading out, I took my daily walk to check on the beavers, the trail camera I set out to catch the ATVer who are trespassing on our property. The beavers were quiet and there were no new signs of ATV incursions, but I did manage to get a few pictures. Our neighbor has a VERY active bird feeder.

When we went on our ride and Jill and I reaffirmed that we are complete opposites! People are often amazed as how two completely different people managed to stay married for forty-six years. I guess it's because two halves make a whole. The way we reaffirmed it today was through the taking of video.
I wanted to take some video of the car driving down the country roads to give you a feel of what it was like, so I had Jill hold the camera outside the car window as we drive. I told her to hold it high enough so that the mirror and car are not in the picture. After about a minute, I stopped, took the camera and held it out my said of the car. The results of both were a failure, but in Jill's failure, the video was 70% car and 30% road. In my failure, the video was 70% trees and 30% road.

Along the way, there was a beautiful view of a wetland valley. It offered me another opportunity to practice the stitch assistant on my camera. Here's a panorama created by stitching five pictures together. Don't forget to click it to enlarge it! The picture is 1.75 meg and depending on your connection, it might take a few seconds to download.

Shortly after this we were on Griffin Road in Deerfield heading toward Center Hill Road in Epsom. As we hit the Deefield/Epsom dividing line, it turned into a dirt road, but we pushed on and hit paving again on Center Hill Road. From there we went hit Route 4 and the highlight of our day. About a mile or two down Route 4, going toward Concord, on the right hand side we saw a large collection of wood sculptures of all shapes and sizes. A grabbed my camera, but as we got out of the car, we saw the "No Pictures" sign. So I put the camera down and we entered what can only be described as a magical tour into the imagination of an amazingly skilled artist. Hundreds of tree trunks had been turned into whimsical and comical animals. There were caricatures of bears, people, moose, beavers and all kinds of other wildlife inside and outside small buildings and along the streets of of this wood-animal community. Andy, and his son are the artists responsible for this wonderland. Like his sculptures, Andy had a smile on his face and a gleam in his eye when he talked about his work. As I shook hands with Andy, it was almost like shaking hands with one of his wooden creations. They were hard, calloused, and powerful from years of wood carving. I want to get back to talk to him in greater length and try to convince him to let me make a little documentary and post it here.

We couldn't take any pictures, but we did buy a bird house and I can take all the pictures I want. Here it is strapped into my grandson's car seat at Newick's in Concord where we had some of the best seafood we have had anywhere.
After eating we headed home and put the cat in its temporary home on our front porch. We won't get any birds settling there, but eventually he (she) will make it to the back yard. As you look at the pictures, keep in mind this is one of Andy's SMALL pieces. We have to come up with a name for our cat and if you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The End of the Road

It was a beautiful day today and Jill wanted to take a leisurely, top down ride, on some back roads. So this morning I got on Google maps an scouted out about a 2 to 3 hour ride through Candia, Pittsfield, Epsom, Deerfield, and Raymond. I punched in a half dozen cross streets in my Tom-Tom, and hit the road.

I soon discovered some GPS math. Tom-Tom plus NH back roads equals, you can't get there from here. It had me making turns where there have been none since the revolutionary war. The road may be on the map, but no one told that to the forest that is growing there. It told me that my next intersection was 3.2 miles down a road that only continued for 1.5 mile.

Since we had no real destination and were just out for the scenery, it was really kind of fun. I would just tell it to calculate a different route and it would obediently send us cruising through some beautiful countryside until he hit the next dead end. In between dead ends, we came across some beautiful country and interesting sights.

Have you ever been driving up a steep country hill, with an equally steep drop off? When you get to the top,you can't see the road on the other side. The little voice inside your head says, "What if there is no road on the other side?"

Well, damned if it didn't almost happen today.

THIS.............................. BECAME THIS

Click on Pics to Enlarge

The car was rolling along the blacktop at a leisurely 35 mph. As the hill peaked, the road surface dropped a few inches and turned from blacktop to gravel. Thank goodness I was doing the speed limit. We literally felt the change before we saw it. If I had been doing 50 mph, it would have looked like something out of the Dukes of Hazard.

I tried (no too successfully) to reproduce the look and feel by applying the Ken Burns effect to the two stills in a short iMovie.

At this point, we decided it was time for a late lunch or early dinner, however you look at it. We headed for the Asian Breeze in Hooksett, for some General Tsu Chicken and Hunan Shrimp. For desert, east to Epping for some soft ice cream at Applehurst Farms and then home.

All in all it was a very nice day, but I learned that I have to keep Tom-Tom on primary or secondary highways.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Paving of Sherwood and Locksley

The Dawg arrived this morning. Well actually, it was Black Dawg Paving company. The majority of time was spent in prepping the blacktop. They did a nice job of cleaning and crack filling. Once that was done and the material had set up enough, they hand poured and spread the blacktop on the porch walkways and the top of the driveways. This video is a two minute time capsule of the spraying from Sherwood to just past 12 Locksley that followed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Leach Field Update

As you may be aware, we have had an ongoing problem with ATVs and snowmobiles using the leach field behind the pond for their personal tracks. Aside from trespassing, they could potentially cause thousands of dollars of damage to the leach field pipe system.

We have been calling the police and they are patrolling it periodically. They said they would send their ATV up there if we can notify them when it is happening.

We have contracted to have a chain link fence and gate put up at the entrance of the leach field and today action was taken to block their initial access to the property.

 The ATVs have been coming down the power line trail and entering our property in back of the Arrow leach field. A large tree had been placed at the entrance to our trail, but they went around it, through the woods, and across a small gully to our trail.

 Today, Chris, one of Kellop's equipment operators, took the excavator and placed rocks to block that access and two other potential access points.

Clicking on this picture will enlarge it and give you an overview of the situation.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mike Callahan Leaves it to Beavers

Those of you who are aware of our efforts to co-exist with our beaver neighbors, know that we have had the help of Mike Callahan of I can't say enough about Mike's willingness to help and his dedication to beaver conservation.

I was considered a technology expert back in the 1980's when the definition of an expert was anyone who was online two weeks longer than you. As I moved around the country, I found that there were two kinds of experts. First there were those who had the magic skills, but kept the skills to themselves for personal gain. Then there were those who were excited about the potential of technology, wanted to spread the word and would share freely and promote the cause for the betterment of all. I was extremely fortunate to have hooked up with a group of national technology experts who shared freely and mentored me.

Mike is cut from that same cloth. He makes his living by designing, building and installing beaver fences and flow control devices, but he shares his knowledge freely with anyone who wants to help beavers co-exist with human neighbors. He gives more than he gets.

Shortly after discovering his website, we bought his DVD, which provided a wealth of information. After digesting the DVD, I visited Mikes Facebook page, commented on the excellent quality of the information and asked a few question, each of which was answered with more detail than anyone could hope for.

Over the next few moths I frequented the pages and conversed via email. Mike told me that he was doing an installation only a half hour from my home and invited me to watch. As it turned out, I wasn't able to stay for the installation, but I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to meet and talk face to face with Mike. So on April 17, armed with an offering of a 6-pack of Beaver Beer, I headed to Windham to meet Mike.

We chatted for a while. I showed him some pictures of our current situation and outlined our plan of action. We were planning on a single rectangular fence without flow control. He felt it would work and even if it didn't, there would be little or no modifications needed in order to implement a flow control device.

If I was going to have to pay Mike for the help he as provided, I would have had to pull up with a beer truck rather than a 6-pack. As testimony to his generosity and humility, he offered to pay me for the beer. Had I taken money, I'm sure lightning would have struck me dead on the spot.

If you research beaver control, you will find a wealth of information, but finding Mike as like finding the mother load. To better understand this, let me tell you about the most valuable piece of information Mike shared. 

Long before discovering Mike, it became clear that any solution we would implement involved constructing fences or cages made of steel mesh.  Pieces have to be cut shaped an joined.  If you have ever done work like this, you know that unless you are very careful about cutting, twisting, shaping, and joining sections with wire, your hands will look like roadkill at the end of the day.  Mike shared his secret of joining sections of mesh.  He uses hog rings and a hog ring crimper.  That one little piece of information was well worth the cost of the CD.

As my father would say, "Mike is good people!"

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Positive Raymond

On Saturday morning, the Iber Holmes Grove Middle School was buzzing with activity as about 70 residents met to discuss ways to make Raymond a better place to live, work, and learn. The event was sponsored by Positive Raymond and facilitated by New Hampshire Listens, a civic engagement group affiliated with UNH.

Since most of us here in Sherwood Glen are transplants to Raymond, I think a report of the day's activities will help us in many ways. As you will read later, strengthening neighborhoods is a suggested action. I think we here in Sherwood Glen have had that goal for quite a while and have a good start on it.

After coffee, Duncan Donuts, and opening remarks, the groundwork was set for small group discussions that were facilitated by NH Listens moderators. Each group was charged with identifying issues and topics that should be discussed. They were asked to focus on one of the topics and make recommendations for making Raymond a great place to live, work, and learn.

Our group, led by Amy and Jean, was a good mix of ages, backgrounds, and years in residence here in Raymond. I was the newbie, having moved here from NJ 2 years ago, and Paul was born here more than 70 years ago. Joe, Andy, Jen, and Susan, filled out a nice spread between those years.

There were two rounds of introductory comments. What was particularly interesting is that those of us who came from crowded urban or even suburban environments like the easy pace and friendly nature of the people. My example was that here in NH, people actually drive in the right hand lane and yield to someone coming behind them. That's RARE in NJ. Most people who get in the left lane think they own it and it doesn't matter whether they are traveling at the speed limit, 10 mph over, or 10 mph under.

It was a diverse group, but one commonality shared by all was feeling of being connected to the community and the people in it.

We were then asked to select a single work that describes Raymond. Our seven members offered Home, Friendly, Angry, Beautiful, Polarized, Evolving, and Opportunities

The discussion then naturally moved toward finding out more about the anger and polarization. Having come from an environment where anger and polarization were rampant, I was anxious to find out more about this aspect. During my two years here, watching local cable and reading the newspaper gave me a somewhat out of focus view on the problem. I was anxious to put things in clearer focus.

As the discussion progressed, a few things became clear. There were differences of opinion about economic development and conservation. There was considerable concern about strong personalities and personal attacks out weighing rational discourse and the democratic process.

I guess some of that is the result of some people wanting a bedroom community with low taxes and services, which is a bit like having your cake and eating it too. It's not something that is easy to achieve.

I said that I felt development in Raymond that would have minimal environmental impact is somewhat limited due to the lack of city sewers. It was pointed out to me that we missed that opportunity in the 70's when the Water Conservation Act made grants possible.

I think the group agreed that to help Raymond thrive economically we have to attract companies who hire a significant number of people, but would have limited environmental impact. Finding the balance between homes and businesses is the trick. Distribution centers such as Walmart foot that bill as far as a tax base goes. Finding the right location that doesn't impact neighborhoods is critical.

Interesting as that discussion was, it didn't address the problem being generated by the strong personalities and possible hidden or personal agendas. There was a strong feeling that there was a need for civility and respect in public meetings. While I agree with that, my experience is that the leopard doesn't change its spots. While you may tame it in the public area, it will revert to its nature when it is out of the spotlight. You have to cage it or remove it from the environment.

When it came time to report back to the full group, our two items were economic development vs conservation and a lack of respect and dialog. The action plan was to educate the public as to the rules, regulations, and issues surrounding the development problem and to set out standards for conducting meetings that would be spelled out at the beginning of each meeting and enforced.

On the surface, it may not look like this will deal with the leopards, but if the public is educated and the full story gets our, they are the ones who have the power to either cage them or remove them from the environment.

As other groups reported back, it became evident that we were not the only ones who wrestled with these problems, but they were expressed in different ways as well as expanded upon. Some other points mentioned were:
1)Deciding on how we want the world to view Raymond.
2)Developing better community communication.
3)Coming up with and ethical business plan
4)Building a positive community image.
5)Getting away from an Us vs Them attitude
6)Strengthening neighborhoods
7)Building more transparency into local government
8)Training for facilitators of government meetings to better handle rhetoric

After the groups reported we were informed that we would get a summary of the day’s events. Needless to say, I’ll be curious to see how that meshes with what I have written here.

All in all I think it was an enjoyable and productive morning. I met some really nice folks, had some great side conversations, and got to know the community better. I’m not sure how I would have felt after a full day of meetings, but the three hours flew by and I left as fresh as I was when I arrived. Actually after two cups of coffee, I probably left fresher than when I had arrived.

I certainly hope that what we offered will be acted upon and that that these discussions will continue. I would be happy to be a part of them.