History


Winter has returned to New Hampshire.

Back yard

Back yard

We got about a half inch of snow today. When I got up there was ice all over the windshield of my car. This surprised me, but I guess it should not have.

Front Yard

Front Yard


Some people are probably pretty upset about winter’s last gasp, but I find it a welcome return. Maybe it will be enough to tide me over until next winter (or if I’m lucky, autumn).

Throw it already!

Penny gets ready to catch a stick


Penny didn’t seem to care. All else becomes unimportant when there are sticks to be caught.

Spring will be back again, and soon I’m sure. We had chipmunks in the yard last week. This one was at the foot of the deck stairs.

Chipmunk

Chipmunk


I opened the sliding glass door and he turned around, but he didn’t run off. Luckily, Penny didn’t see him as I took several shots.

Another thing I did last week was visit a virtual geocache in Franklin called “Abnaki Mortar” (sic – should be “Abenaki”) From the name, I couldn’t figure out what it was, but once I got there it was plainly obvious, and I felt silly for not knowing what to expect.

Abenaki Mortar

Abenaki Mortar


This is a mortar where the Abenaki Indians ground corn. European settlers used it too. I imagine they would have scooped the water out and tried to dry it a bit first. I was pretty pleased when I got here and saw what it was. I really like Native American history, especially here on the East Coast where almost none was recorded before they were driven out.

Meanwhile, I have been making slow but steady progress on the canoe. In spite of today’s snowstorm, we had a spot of nice weather last week. It was warm enough to consider epoxy work, so I considered it. And did it. I fit the instem into “Miss Nancy.”

New instem

New instem


That’s a tough proposition, as the stem is kind of the foundation of the boat. The brief period during which it was stemless, it was also exceedingly fragile. Once I got this new stem in place, it regained its strength plus some extra strength for good measure. Once the epoxy set on the instem, I attacked the outstem too:

Outstem attached

Outstem attached


Instead of clamping the outstem in place, I screwed it into the instem with steel screws. Those came out once the glue set, and will be replaced with brass screws. I generally don’t drive brass screws into wood until I’ve used a steel screw to cut the threads in the wood. Otherwise, the brass screws will twist in two, or strip out. As it was, the steel screws themselves all snapped in half when I went to remove them. I haven’t decided how to deal with that yet. Now that the epoxy is set, the screws are more decorative than anything else. I think if I tried to remove the steel screw nubbins, all I would do is mangle the ash. I might just use some shortened brass screws to plug the holes and make it look good.

Since this was done, I also shaped the outstem so that it flows into the hull with sweeping curves. It looks pretty good now. I also mixed up some epoxy and wood flour and slathered it into the cracks between the planks. I still need to hit it with another layer of that mixture and sand it down, but once that’s done, it’ll be ready to take a new layer of glass. Then the strength will increase by another order of magnitude. Once that’s done, I can smooth the inside of the hull, slather on more epoxy/wood flour, and sand that, and then it will be ready for glass as well.

This is going to be a nice boat.

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Yesterday when I got home from work I walked around my trail on my property. A dead tree had fallen on my path. It had been dead for a while, and I had been thinking about cutting it down. Sandy beat me to it. It was free of branches by then, so dragging it off the path was just a matter of some heave-hoeing. This witches butter was nearly hit by the tree when it fell.

Witches butter

Witches butter


A bit farther down the path I found this fungus growing on a small stump. I think it might be turkey tail (Trametes versicolor).
Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor)

Turkey tail (Trametes versicolor)

That brings us to today. I went for a walk at lunch, and was sure to go by our new still-under-construction office building.

Our new office

Our new office


We will move in in August. It’s right across the street from where President Franklin Pierce died. I went looking for his house in September but couldn’t find it. I did some more reading and found that there is a marker in the front yard. What I did not know was that the house is no longer there (which is why I had a hard time finding it).
Pierce's Marker

Pierce’s Marker


Here are his front steps.
Pierce's Stairs

Pierce’s Stairs


Franklin Pierce was the 12th President of the United States. By some accounts, he was the worst Chief Executive in US history, and many lay at his feet the blame for the Civil War. I don’t know how accurate that is. At any rate, his house is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Except – as you can see from this photo – it no longer exists.

Washington, NH is the home of the Washington Adventist Church, the first church where Adventists met to observe the seventh day as the Sabbath. It is a historic place. Last spring our local church was invited to provide church services for a few weeks there this summer. I volunteered, as did my friend Dan Orlinski. Another pair of our church leaders volunteered for an earlier date, but today was my date.

I suggested to Dan that rather than get up real early and drive there, we ought to just camp out Friday night. Dan is an avid outdoorsman, so he agreed without hesitation, and when I invited Beth, she was likewise enthusiastic.

So yesterday after work the three of us set out. I had meant to stop by the Pathfinder trailer and fetch my dutch oven on the way, but that somehow slipped my mind. Oh well.

We arrived at the Washington Church around 7:00pm. I unlocked the building (having been given the combination to the lockbox containing the key), and we went in to look around.

Washington Adventist Church

Washington Adventist Church


I have camped here with our Pathfinder club three or four times, but had never been inside the church, so this was a nice treat.

We locked it back up, pitched our tents, and then relaxed a bit. Then we hit the sack. Beth and I shared a tent, and Dan had one to himself. I slept as well as I always do on a campout, which is to say not very good. 😉

I got up at about 6:30 and began preparing breakfast. A few years ago I made a “penny alcohol stove” from an aluminum beer can (which I got from the city recycling center). Google that for details if you’re interested. It weighs almost nothing and cost me a penny to make (except that I still have the penny). It burns for about ten minutes I guess, but I didn’t time it. That’s long enough to boil a quart of water, but I was making pancakes and eggs, not boiling water.

I had intended to cook the pancakes on the dutch oven’s lid, but having neglected to bring that particular item with me, opted to use my backpacking mess kit instead. It is not optimal for cooking pancakes, as it’s pretty hard to get underneath them to flip them over.

Frying pancakes

Frying pancakes


They tend to get scrambled during the flip, resulting in this:
Scrambled Pancakes

Scrambled Pancakes


They still tasted great even if they weren’t much to look at.

In addition to forgetting the dutch oven, I also forgot to bring a fork or a spoon. We keep that sort of thing in the Pathfinder trailer, so I don’t usually have to think of it. So I didn’t. Lacking a spoon, I fashioned one from the handle of the pancake bottle (seen the the photo two pics back). It worked out pretty well.

I also made up some scrambled eggs, and they came out about like scrambled eggs are supposed to. Beth passed on the pancakes, but eagerly ate some eggs. I ate some of everything.

After cleaning up the dishes, we took a short hike. There is a trail on the church property there called the Sabbath Trail, and it’s about a mile long. We didn’t do the whole mile right after breakfast though. It features 31 stops along the trail with a bench at each stop and a slab of polished granite with an episode recounting the history of the Sabbath etched into each.

We had to cut the hike short because we were supposed to open the church up at 10:00am for Sabbath School, and then a church service at 11:00. So we hustled back to camp and changed into our church clothes.

Several of the Seventh-day Adventist Church pioneers visited this church, including Joseph Bates, James and Ellen White, and J.N. Andrews. Beth was excited at the prospect of sitting in the same seat that these people had sat in 100 years ago, but since she didn’t know which ones they sat in, she decided to sit in them all. And she did, including in the balcony.

I set up Beth’s electric piano (plugged it into my car – it has a battery compartment, and I bought batteries for it, but even with that, it wouldn’t turn on). Then Dan led out for Sabbath School.

After that, we had a church service. No one was there except for the three of us. We were there in case someone else showed up, but no one did. A couple of hikers walked by, but they didn’t come in. Dan pointed out that there were enough of us there so that someone sat in every seat. Even if that someone was Beth.

I had prepared a sermon, and I will be giving the same one in Concord next week. This was good practice though, and I will change it a bit. Beth and I played Amazing Grace for special music – with me on the alto recorder, and her on the piano. We also played it with Beth on the organ (they have a very old, but working pump organ).

Then the church service was over, so we changed clothes again and finished our hike on the Sabbath Trail.

Along the way we saw several American toads, including this one:

Infected American toad (Bufo americanus)

Infected American toad (Bufo americanus)


It has what I think is a fungal infection around its eye. I have seen toads with this malady before, and initially thought it had gotten mud on its eye. But I don’t think this is mud. This will probably kill the toad, either directly (from the infection) or indirectly (from not seeing a predator approach from the right).

Soon, we crossed a bridge over a creek, and next to the bridge found some swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris) growing:

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)

Swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris)


These look a lot like whorled loosestrife, and are in fact in the same genus.

I also found a stand of partridge berry (Mitchella repens).

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)


These are past the flowering stage on my property. I still see a few here and there, but for the most part, they are finished.

I was delighted to find this violet wood sorel (Oxalis violacea).

Violet wood sorel (Oxalis violacea)

Violet wood sorel (Oxalis violacea)


I haven’t seen any of this in about five years, and that was before I started carrying a camera around with me everywhere I went. Thus, these are the first photos I’ve taken of this species. 🙂

To my further delight, I found several patches of dewdrops (Dalibarda repens).

Dewdrops (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrops (Dalibarda repens)


Until today, the only place I knew where any of these grew was on my property, and as I’ve written before, I don’t know how long they will survive on my place since the neighbor has cut down trees, converting my shady woods into sunny woods. Well, now I know another place to find them. I might have to make an annual trek to Washington to get my dewdrop fix.

After the hike, we returned to the church (and our camp site), and sat down for lunch. I was planning to cook some Ramen noodles on my penny alcohol stove, but couldn’t figure out what on earth I had done with it. I found it later in the wrong section of my backpack, but before lunch, it was nowhere to be seen. Instead, I ate an apple, some “broccoli slaw” (which I had never had before – it’s not bad, but I don’t know if I’ll have it again), and… some raw Ramen noodles. Beth insisted that some of her schoolmates do this all the time, and she likes raw Ramen. Well, I do prefer mine cooked.

After we ate, we struck the tents, packed the car, and headed home. It rained while we ate lunch, so the tents got wet. I have them pitched in the backyard right now to dry out.

Yesterday was an “off” day for me, which was a welcome change. I was planning to do a little tool shopping to prepare for our trip to Holbrook, but never managed to gather sufficient momentum to make that happen. Instead, Beth and I did a little geocaching.

After we hid our two caches in the beginning of this month, another cacher came and found one of them, and decided she would hide a few more (where “a few” equals “four”). So Beth and I decided to go and collect them – they are in our neighborhood (where “our neighborhood” equals “within five miles of our house”).

When we got to Battis Crossing, which is the road where two of the caches were located, the GPS still had not locked onto the satellites. So we drove past that to the next cache, which is near a fantastic little spring in Canterbury. I stop there a couple of times per month to refill the water bottles I keep in my car. It is some very good water. About half the time I drive by it, there are one or more cars stopped there filling jugs, and that was true this time too. So we passed that cache as well, and made our way to the fourth one (which I had already found the week before).

I pointed Beth to Ground Zero and she found the cache and signed the log. Then we hopped back in the car, turned around, and went back from whence we had come. There was still a car parked at the spring, so we kept going until we got to Battis Crossing. By then, the GPS had locked onto the satellite, so we were ready to look for some caches.

We found the first one with little difficulty, and then set out for the second one. That’s when I stepped on a very slippery patch of ice, lost my footing, and fell. Based on Beth’s reaction, I must have done some extremely amusing acrobatics in my bid to regain my balance. Luckily, I was not hurt (other than that I have had a sore knee ever since). I quickly recovered, and we found this trail leading to the cache:

Battis Crossing

Battis Crossing


This trail is a continuation of Battis Crossing Road, which the GPS insisted went further than it did. I assume it used to follow this trail. The GPS also said we were near Sawyer’s Ferry Road, which I have seen on old maps before. The old maps (including Tomtom’s) indicate that Battis Crossing used to connect to Sawyer’s Ferry Road. Both of those roads are only narrow tracks now. I would imagine that they used to meet near a homestead, but I didn’t see one anywhere (and this cache was pretty close to where the map says the used to meet). It would probably not be difficult to find an old foundation near there though.

From the name, I think we can probably assume that Sawyer’s Ferry was located at the other end of Sawyer’s Ferry road… on the Merrimack River. That would be pretty interesting to explore as well, but it’s on private property. I am not one to go knocking on the strangers’ doors and ask if I can explore their property. I might find the ferry by canoe someday though.

We found the second cache and hiked back to the car without any further incident. Then we went back to the spring to look for the final cache of the day. We arrived, and there were no cars parked there. We got out and hunted around for the cache. I found it in a place that Beth had already looked (much to her chagrin). We emptied the container out on the concrete wall above the spring and Beth went through it trying to decide what to trade.

Beth at the spring in Canterbury

Beth at the spring in Canterbury

We could have gone looking for four more caches (one of which I already have, but Beth does not), but by then, she was ready to go home. We’ll save those for another day.

About a month ago I wrote a post about how I wanted it to snow so that I could go snowshoeing with Penny. Well, we’ve had some snow since then, but not enough to justify wearing snowshoes. I wrote about the route I would take, and the things I would see. And today, Penny and I walked that route and saw those sights, albeit sans snowshoes.

Penny brought me some sticks to throw

Penny brought me some sticks to throw


I headed down the road and turned into the field that until recently was a forest. I was looking for animal tracks as I went, and found some nice ones. Here’s a set left by a squirrel:
Squirrel tracks in snow

Squirrel tracks in snow


A little farther down the remnants of the forest path I saw some deer tracks. I think these were left by at least two animals, as the tracks are two different sizes.
Whitetail tracks

Whitetail tracks


We crossed the road then and walked to Sandogardy Pond. It has been warm the past couple of days and the ice is not stable. When it gets thick again, I will hike across the pond. I just like the idea of hiking across a pond (and I have done it before). It’s a lot farther to the other side than it looks.
Sandogardy Pond

Sandogardy Pond


Since the ice was unsuited for foot traffic, I had the place all to myself. I do enjoy the solitude. I looked for muskrat tracks, but that’s hard to do with Penny along, because she dashes out ahead of me and often confuses any tracks that are there. I didn’t find any, so we headed down the path along Little Cohas Brook, and crossed the footbridge that spans it. Penny thought better of swimming across and reluctantly used the bridge. Good girl, Penny.

That path took us to the railroad tracks. The tracks become a snowmobile path in the winter, and they have definitely taken advantage of that.

Walking south on the tracks

Walking south on the tracks

As we headed down the tracks, I continued to admire Little Cohas Brook.

Little Cohas Brook

Little Cohas Brook

It was just a short walk until we arrived at a house that originally served as a railroad depot. I had been wanting to take a photo of the place from the tracks, and that was almost the point of the journey today. Too bad I didn’t bring my tripod.

Northfield Depot

Northfield Depot


I don’t know when the depot was built, but it was there when the Union Church was built in 1883. That’s how I came to know that this unusual looking house had been a railroad station in the first place. It’s pretty close to the church, and that’s how most people who attended got there. I can picture them all dressed up in their Sunday best getting off the train.

About a hundred yards to the south of the depot is a little dirt road which connects to Sondogardy Pond Road (yeah, it’s spelled differently than the Pond is). So Penny and I used that rather than trekking through someone’s yard. We headed back to our house, but stopped to take a few shots of the Union Church.

Northfield Union Church

Northfield Union Church


Nobody meets here anymore. I think it was last used in the 1990’s, but I’m not sure. You can get a key from the town clerk, and I will do that one of these days. I want to go inside and have a look around.

Penny and I walked home from there, and as you can see from the photos, it was getting dark. I put my light clip on my hat and turned it on so I could be seen by the cars. We took the paved bridge over Little Cohas Brook, and Penny didn’t seem to notice our crossing this time.

It was a refreshing walk, and I really needed to recharge my batteries. Virginia and I have a packed month coming up. We’ll come up for air again in March I think. Tomorrow the Pathfinders have our annual inspection. Next weekend is Camp-in for the Adventurers, so Va and I will need to make the church basement look like Nazareth. The following day, the Pathfinders will use those decorations for a backdrop for some video we will shoot (and I need to finish writing the scripts for that tonight). The next week we will continue practicing the play that we will present during the church service on Pathfinder Sabbath (Feb 18) – the same day as the Bible Bowl and Pinewood Derby. Less than a week after that the Pathfinders fly out to Arizona for our mission trip to Holbrook Indian School.

So posts may be sparse between now and then. I will have a lot to say, but not a lot of time to say it!

It’s kind of bizarre that I titled a post “The British Are Coming” earlier this week. That was before I knew I’d be in Lexington, MA a few days later.

That day was today, when I went there on a work-related mission. I was hoping to have a little daylight while I was there to hunt down a multi-cache covering the route of Paul Revere’s famous ride. But it was not to be. I didn’t get out of there until after dark.

That makes photography kinda difficult too. This was all I could manage.

Massachusetts Avenue

Massachusetts Avenue

I still haven’t drilled and tapped out the tripod mounting hole in my camera – which I stripped a loooong time ago, and then packed with epoxy putty, thinking “as soon as this sets, I will drill it and tap it.” I think it has maybe set by now.

Lacking the ability to take a tripod-stabilized shot, I balanced my camera on a garbage can. That while I balanced a box of electronics on my knee with my laptop bag slug over my left shoulder and my camera bag slung over my right.

I didn’t have time to research Paul Revere’s route. I guess I could just make up some new facts about it (that’s not unprecedented 😉 In that spirit, I’m just going to assert without proof that he rode down this stretch of Massachusetts Avenue. Feel free to update Wikipedia with this information.

Yesterday I got a call from Bryant’s Hardware. The things I ordered last week had arrived. I couldn’t get them yesterday, so I swung by after work today.

I talked to Bill, the proprietor while I was there. He’s a very friendly guy. I asked him how long the place had been in his family, and he told me that his grandparents had bought it in 1921. He’s hoping he’ll be able to keep it open another nine years to make it up to 100.

Now I’m sure the store has already been there for over 100 years – it was an ongoing operation when his grandparents bought the place. Here’s what I love about the place:

Black bear cub

Black bear cub


He wasn’t sure where this bear had come from. I guess it has been in the store all his life. He said his grandparents were into hunting, and it was possible they had taken this cub – and if so, it would have been after taking its mother. A cub can’t live on its own. On the other hand, it could have been there when his grandparents bought the store.

However it ended up there, it certainly does add character to the store. To the right of the bear is a framed calendar. I zoomed in on the full-res version of the photo, and was able to see some detail.

Zoom!

Zoom!


This uploaded, cropped version is at full resolution, so you can zoom in on it too if you are so inclined. The thing I noticed was that the calendar is dated 1924. It can be used again in 2036 (which is also a leap year).

Who knew you could make a living doing electrical work in 1924? I didn’t. I find it interesting that Mr Forger sold “Marda Lamps and Fixtures and Radio Supplies.” Both Guglielmo Marconi (inventor of the radio) and Thomas Edison (light bulb) were still alive in 1924.

I Googled “Archie+Forger+electrical” and it turned up this story from The Nashua Telegraph. The lesson here is, don’t warm cans of varnish on a stove.

I paid for my order and we chatted for a bit. I wanted to see what kind of rope he had, because I buy a fair amount of rope for the Pathfinders. Jonathan was outside waiting in the car, and then some other customers came in, so I left Bill to his business.

I’ll be back next time I need something.

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