Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Art Is Good Day

So...'R' and I headed on down to the UU Church to pick up the craft stuff that I had set up for their Christmas Sale.  Not my usual venue (that being the PTO sale that I kinda boycotted this year) and I wasn't hopeful for much interest in my hand-painted ivory jewelry or miniatures on easels.  The sale ran for three Saturdays and all I had to do was set up a small table and provide an inventory of my items.  Well....a superb Christmas surprise awaited me this morning.  Yep, stuff sold.  I totaled as much in sales as if I had participated in the PTO sale and spent the day sitting there minding the table!  I'm real happy.  Sign me up for next year!

Another Monday bonus was waiting just for me (not really, could have been for anyone), at the supermarket.  We need a larger bin for hats, scarfs, gloves and mittens now that our household is larger.  I found a slightly overpriced woven bin on the top shelf near the laundry detergents.  So I thought oh well, we need it so I'll pay a bit too much to get it.  We headed through the checkout with the bin as a separate item from the groceries that 'R' was getting.  Lo and behold it rang up as higher priced than the tag said it should be!  Ahemmmm....excuse me 'M', who was cashiering.  'M' called the manager over and guess what?  Store policy - pricing error and you get the item free!

Yay! Yippeeeeeeee!

And finally, a new painting has been added to the collection.
The remains of the Cape Ann Tool Company as seen from Pigeon Cove, Rockport.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

When It's Cold Outside

Tequila Christmas Cake


1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup water

1 tsp. salt

1 cup brown sugar

Lemon juice

4 large eggs


1 bottle tequila

2 cups dried fruit


Sample the tequila to check quality.

Take a large bowl; check the tequila again to be sure it is of the highest quality.


Turn on the electric mixer.

Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.

Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Beat again.

At this point, it is best to make sure the tequila is still OK.

Try  another cup just in case.

Turn off the mixerer thingy.

Break 2 eegs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the fruit up off the floor.

Mix on the turner. If the fried druit getas stuck in the beaterers, just

pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the tequila to test for tonsisticity.

Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something.

Check the tequila.

Now shift the lemon ice strain your nuts.

Add one table.

Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.

Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

Don't forget to beat off the turner.

Finally, throw the bowl through the window.

Finish the tequila and wipe the counter with the cat.

(Thanks to Joe G.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cat Lovers in Dogtown - Trip Four

I decided that trip four In should start at the top of Gee Avenue in Gloucester.  This would lead us to Commons Road, the northern main road of Dogtown.  It was an easy, paved...yes, paved!...curve around the Goose Cove reservoir which upon its creation had left part of Commons Road submerged.  We picked up the old Commons Road...unpaved...exactly opposite this spot:
Goose Cove Reservoir

Our first hike was to find Peter's Pulpit.  Supposedly an enormous erratic the size of 20 automobiles.  Yep, it was big, but not very impressive.  I guess I felt that a 'pulpit' would indicate something much more vertical than horizontal.  Oh well.  Slightly disappointed but there were still other things to find.
Peter's Pulpit

We hiked a crossroad called Wharf Road over to the southern side of Dogtown in hopes of finding a couple more of the Babson Boulders. 
Wharf Road (Dogtown's Roads challenge footing!)

Wharf Road is named such, not because of a wharf for boating or fishing, but after the man who lived along the edge, Abram Wharf.  Where Wharf Road meets up with Dogtown Road, there were a couple spots where we could see Granny Day's Swamp.  Sheep and cows often got stuck in the mire of Granny Day's Swamp!
A peek at Granny Day's Swamp

We found two more inscribed boulders:
Keep Out Of Debt

If Work Stops Values Decay

After taking some photos we headed back the way we had come In with only one variation.  We have been deciphering conflicting maps and have discovered one that shows numbered intersections.  This helps a lot and saved us some retracing of footsteps by taking a different fork where Wharf Road meets Commons Road.
Intersection 4 (this one painted on a rock, some are painted on trees)

Our last stop of the trip was to photograph the boulder below, held from rolling down a steep embankment by one struggling tree!
propped on the edge

The Commons Road hike was the longest that we have done.  Not much happening along it and we most likely will not use it for an entrance In again. Upon returning home, I found that we are still missing 4 Babson Boulders in our collection.  Two are at the railroad end of the Babson Trail.  The other two, upon some research, appear to be in the same area as we were on this trip!  Must do some more hunting.  From the Dogtown Road side next time. 'R' is being very tolerant of my desire to explore Dogtown!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cat Lovers in Dogtown - Trip Three

I thought before tomorrow and trip four rolled around I'd best relate a little about trip three.

This time we decided to try going In from the Gloucester side of Dogtown.  Much easier with a relatively smooth access road!  We passed several numbered stones that designated sites of cellar holes - the only remains of homes in Dogtown.
Number 20 marks the site of Granny Day's home

A cellar hole marked by stone carving 17

A bit further along and we were 'told' that we had arrived at Dogtown Square.  Wow, things must have changed a lot being as other than the sign there was no indication whatsoever that a town square ever existed.
We arrived at Dogtown Square!

We took a right turn and wandered slightly uphill to the commons, a relatively open area where the sheep and cattle of all the settlement would have grazed.  We passed some other numbered stones and, not seeing any cellar holes, didn't investigate.  If we had, we would have found a couple more Babson Boulders.  Oh well, we'll visit them tomorrow on Trip Four.

We did find 14 on this trip and I'll show a couple examples...don't worry won't post all the pics!  And the question of count will be answered with these two 'pages' of Babson's book.
Two sides of the same boulder have been carved.

While we were walking up toward the common pasture, we met a woman walking out.  As is custom in our small community, we said hello.  She greeted us and told us that there was a large pack of dogs up ahead.  Probably 15 or so, she said.  Hmmmm.  Then she added that they were friendly.  Double hmmmm.  I think she was trying to spook us.  Didn't work.  (Never saw or heard any dogs)  As a matter of fact, we haven't seen any wildlife at all in Dogtown.  No birds, no squirrels, nothing.

We doubled back from the commons pasture and took a side trip down the Babson Boulder Trail.  It was rough walking and a large portion was up and down hills.  We decided that when it reach 11:30 we would turn around and head back toward the car.  On the boulder trail we found the rest of our 14 count for the trip.  2 more are further along the trail and we'll grab shots of them another time.

Tomorrow we plan on making our fourth trip In.  Maybe starting at the top of Squam Road once again and follow the trail past Whale's Jaw to Peter's Pulpit (it's supposed to be a mammoth erratic) and then on to the Commons Road before turning around and heading home.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Cat Lovers in Dogtown - Trips One and Two

I have been trying to take Sunday off each week.  If I stay home I do tend to wander down to the workshop  This means we must head off, away from the house so I can't work.

'R' and I have decided that our get away from home destination shall be exploring Dogtown.

In 1741, 20% of Gloucester's population lived in what was then known as the Commons Settlement.  This area covers the majority of the center of our island and was primarily a farming and forestry based economy.  The fishing industry which eventually grew to be the main industry of the island was at that time nearly non-existent due to great losses to piracy.  The Commons Settlement was also the hub of the island with roads connecting Gloucester to Lanesville to Annisquam to Rockport.  Sixty of the most prominent island families called the Commons Settlement home.  It was the most desirable part of town.

The men of the Commons Settlement participated heavily in the Revolutionary War and at the end few remained to return to their homes on the island.  Their widows were left to try to eke out an existence on land that had been stripped of all the wood.  Many subsisted on the abundant berries found and killed their animals for the last remaining meals of meat.  Whether for company or for protection, the women left at the Commons Settlement kept dogs.  That, combined with the rapid decay of the area, seems to be why the Commons Settlement, once a thriving, desirable community became known as Dogtown.

With the end of the war and control gained over the local waters, the fishing industry grew.  Prominent families wanted to live in new, elegant homes at the harbor.  New roads were built that, in staying along the water, bypassed Dogtown.

In 1830, suffering from frozen feet, the last resident was removed from the cellar of a home and placed in the Poor House where he died within a few days. By 1841, there were only six of the original 80 houses left in Dogtown.  In 1845 the last house was torn down.  Dogtown was an embarrassment.

The land was left vacant.  Eventually Roger Babson purchased a large portion with the intent of keeping open space on the island.  In the years that followed, he not only donated a large portion to the city for a reservoir, he also hired out of work quarrymen to 'write' a book of morals by carving words in some of the large boulders of Dogtown.  The acreage of Dogtown is a vast expanse of terminal moraine.  Large granite boulders called erratics are strewn about the area and acres are covered in piles of granite 'rubble' left behind when the last great ice flow receded.
Trees have grown between the boulders in the terminal moraine

Present day Dogtown is filled with a maze of trails running between the old Dogtown Road, the Commons Road, and the Old Rockport Road (don't let the word road fool you...they aren't paved!).  Along the trails are markers indicating the 'cellar holes' and other bits of interesting things like Granny Day's Swamp. The casual hiker can easily get lost and 'R' and I were sure to bring several maps (even if they were a bit conflicting between themselves) and a cell phone.  We decided to explore with a definite plan and to keep track of the time at certain locations.  We always mark any turns taken from the main trail.  We are determined NOT to dial 911 as a tourist did recently!
Old Rockport Road

Our first venture In was from Old Rockport Road.  Not much to be seen along there!  It would have been far more productive to have entered from near Blackburn Circle (Blackburn Industrial Park) where it would have been a short wooded walk to see: The Babson Boulders!


Not mentioned on the map, but quickly spotted were:

Our first five Babson Boulders.  Only 19 left to find!

At that point it was getting chilly and foggy (and darn close to lunch time) so we headed back by the same route as we went in.  We decided to try a different hike in the afternoon.

Our afternoon hike was to Whale's Jaw.  Whale's Jaw used to resemble it's name much more than it does now.  Not long ago the 'jaw' portion split off and fell.  Some claim it was due to a fire being set beneath it.  I find it rather hard to believe that a smallish fire would break such a large boulder (about 18 - 20 feet at the tallest point).  My thinking leans more towards the hundreds of years of water freezing and thawing in the 'jaw' joint.
the 'jaw' that fell off is to the left

Since it was getting on toward sunset, it was a quick trip of about 45 minutes.
The jaw 'vapors'!

We'll head out (or In) past Whale's Jaw again soon.

On our third venture to Dogtown we followed Dogtown Road and saw some of the cellar holes.  From there we hiked the Boulder Trail and captured fourteen more Babson Boulders.  Only six left to find!  And for those of you doing the math, that little discrepancy will be explained in Cat Lovers in Dogtown - Trip Three

Saturday, November 26, 2011

At Other Times

Times that I haven't been working or out and about, I've done a couple new paintings.  In gouache.  The first was done back in September and is based on a wonderful photograph that 'R' took of the Annisquam River.

The second I just finished and is from a photo I took up in Newburyport.

They need titles before I can post them to the Flickr account.

I've started on an oil painting that should, if all goes as planned, be an interesting, textural view of the Cape Ann Tool Company.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Turkey Day

These two are as they aren't the chosen ones!
Two buddies at Raymond's Turkey Farm

Saturday, November 19, 2011

When the Cows Come Home

or is that the saints marching in?

Mall Avoidance

'Tis the season.


We always try to beat the crowds and get the majority of Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving.  There are normally a few little things left to find and purchase after Turkey Day has passed to get one out among the throngs of crazed, to-the-mall drivers to sustain that holiday spirit!
Step in to the past

So...a few days ago 'R' and I trucked on up to Newburyport to look in the specialty shops there for one specific gift.  No luck.
The old luncheonette

But we had a good morning of it anyway and stopped for coffee at Fowle's.  Not much has changed there since it was built although now it's just a fully stocked newstand in one half and a counter or booth luncheonette in the other.

We roamed around long enough to have to stop for lunch on the way home.

A step back in time time.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

I Love New Toys


 I mean tools.

Old tools new to me.

Found this gem at the dump!

I'm sure to find some use for it.

Things have been very busy around here.  As I type, I'm waiting for a tech to arrive with a set of piano keys needing work.  Another set is in the works in the shop, more were sent out during the past week.  I finished up a big melodeon rebuild job and that left on Tuesday.
Whitney melodeon from 1857

Then there's this thing on Tuesday night that I have been preparing for...for ages.  I'm giving a presentation on the Manning Organ Company for the Sandy Bay Historical Society.  I hate public speaking and I'm very uncomfortable about giving the talk.  Anyway, it's a PowerPoint slide show, complete with a recording of four pieces of music that Manning wrote.  Many, many thanks to 'R' who took my rough recording of a client playing the music and turned it into a quite acceptable CD.  So, be thinking good thoughts for me on Tuesday night, folks.

Can't wait until THAT's done.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Two Day Vacation!

That's right, I managed to take a two day vacation this year!
great photo day

Weather and work happily coordinated to give us a clear and colorful time off in North Conway, NH.  While this seems to be a recurring spot for our vacations, we do try to do something different on each visit.  That gets kind of challenging after 50 or so years of visiting the same area!  After checking in to our 'throw back to the '70s' (but very clean and friendly) Junge's Motel, we decided to head further north to be driven up the Mount Washington Auto Road.  No, I will not drive up the road myself.  ('R' now wants to drive it) Many do and most of them actually survive the trip, but I was not going to venture forth on the looks very, very narrow, too narrow to be two way but it is Auto Road.  Nope, not me.  Bottomless drop offs (well, by the time you would reach the bottom it would be irrelevant) on one side and washed out shoulders on the other and a mere fraction of an inch passing room between cars as they go up and down.  Our van driver told us that there have been times when the professioanl Auto Road drivers have had to drive the non-pro's back down.  Yep, it's that unnerving.  Back in the 1960's my dad would drive the road.  Seven times in our 1958 Chevy station wagon!  I think the road was a bit wider then...and fewer people actually ventured up and down it.  Anyway, there were no mishaps and we had a great time atop New England.  The weather was unusually good and visibility was great.  We took lots of photos.

A view from the top...there's a glider below (center)!

view from the top with the cog railway heading back down

We also did some touring around town and visited the old train station where last year's excursion occurred  (The train trip to Crawford Notch),
winner of weirdest vacation photo

went up to the top of Cathedral Ledge, shot photos down in the valley below, and after a night at Junge's headed home making a photo stop at beautiful Lake Chicorua.
Mount Chicorua

All in all, a fantastic two days!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Little Things...

DO matter!

As I was grabbing a few pistachio muffins for 'A' from the self-serve at a local grocery store, I gazed about the racks to see what other varieties were available...Cranberry Rasin, some other coffee cake type things and Apple Rasin.  Yes spell check, I typed R - A - S - I - N.  That's what the little signs read.   So being that things like spelling are least to me...I very politely brought the error to the attention of a bakery department employee who just happened to be standing next to me.

And she said, "Oh, that's just a little thing.  It doesn't matter."

YES, YES, YES it does! *

(And those stupid backwards 'R' s in the Toys 'R' Us signs have always bothered me, too.)

How will anyone learn the correct way if no one cares when things are incorrect?

Oh, and another thing while I'm complaining...Mr. Driver at the top of Barn Lane...yeah, you who was supposed to stop at the sign that has the letters S - T - O - P.  Why did you feel the need to sound your horn at me and wave your middle finger my way?  I was on the main road with no S - T - O - P sign!
"You know you aren't supposed to be doing that!"
 *any spelling mistakes in this post, past posts, or future posts, are evidently just little things and not important enough to even be noticed.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Plane Show Sunday

Different weekend than Car Show Saturday.

'R' wandered out of his office with a question, "Are there any airports around here that would have some military planes?"

Probably not exactly what he said.....

So I told him about Beverly Airport and said that they have a website.  "Why?"  Seems he heard something military sounding overhead.  From a cellar office with the windows closed!  I think that I was running some machinery in the shop, too!

With a quick online check, he determined that there was a show at the Beverly Airport of some WWII planes.  The list included a B-17, the same type of plane that my Uncle Hughie was aboard when it crashed during a training flight.  My mom has wanted to see a B-17, a real one, not just a photo.  She was ten years old when her brother, Hughie, was killed in that crash.  He was the first serviceman from their city, New Bedford, MA, to die in WWII.  The Standard Times reporter that was sent to the house to tell my grandparents the terrible news found that my grandfather had just come home from the hospital after a heart attack.  The reporter then chose not to tell them that their son had been killed in a crash.  They heard the news later...on the radio.  You can read about the crash and the memorial that has been erected at the crash site here.

So, back to yesterday.  We decided to drive mom down to the airport.
Mom at one of the B-17 props

Truthfully, both 'R' and I wanted to go see the planes, too.  Along with the B-17, there was a B-24, a P-51, a T-6, a Corsair, and a Stearman biplane.

We spent a little more than an hour looking around and taking lots of photos.
Mom, me and R reflected at center

And......we got to go aboard the B-17.  Quite an experience for my mom to see what the plane was like and to imagine her brother aboard.
Mom at the starboard gun

So glad 'R' heard that plane overhead on Sunday morning.  So glad we went.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Car Show Saturday

Yes, I've taken time away from work.  Well, at the time there wasn't much work in the shop.  So we went up to Skip's for a car show and I played around with snapping some artsy shots.

Artsy shot number one:
Artsy shot number two:
And yes, artsy shot number three:
Finally, "Self-portrait with White Walls"*

*'R's clever title...thank you 'R'!