I would have to say that Music Clinic was an unqualified success.

Beth during a performance

Beth during a performance

This photo was taken during the morning church service on Saturday, but I don’t remember which song they were playing – maybe Vivaldi’s “Winter” from The Four Seasons. I do remember that all the songs sounded pretty good though.

The pianos were all on stage, with the band to the left, the kid’s choir in front of the stage, and the full choir to the right. The strings were down on the floor in front of the kid’s choir. There were a lot of musicians. This photo shows only about a quarter of the full choir.

Some of the musicians

Some of the musicians

After one performance, we sat at some tables located behind the choir where it was less crowded (but where we could still hear). Beth didn’t want me to take her picture, but I did anyhow.

She didn't want me to take her picture.

She didn't want me to take her picture.

It’s what Dad’s do.

After the morning service we had lunch, and then I had to help clean the kitchen again (which was great). Then we were free for the afternoon. I wanted to go for a hike, but couldn’t talk Beth into it. Yes, I could have made her hike with me, but it’s a lot less pleasant to hike with an unwilling companion. We went back to the hotel and she swam in the pool for an hour. Then we went to the room and I took a 20 minute nap. Not very exciting, I know.

Then it was time to head back to the school for supper and then a few more practice sessions (during which I helped clean the kitchen again). Beth went to her seat, and I went to the kitchen.

Pre-show excitement

Pre-show excitement

While I was in the kitchen, Va showed up. She found a seat, while I finished my assignment. By then the gym was packed and I had a hard time finding her. When I did, she was along the back wall and I had to climb over four elderly people to get to the seat she had saved for me.

I didn’t want to sit back there during Beth’s performances, so just before she went on, I clambered over the elderly again and got up to the stage for photo ops. I didn’t have the heart to climb over them again though, so I stood somewhere else with an even worse view, and waited for the Grand Finale (A Mighty Fortress, by Martin Luther). She had a piano part in that, and I took photos, but they don’t look much different from the ones I already posted.

After the performance, the three of us headed back to the hotel. I made a dessert run while the girls kicked back and relaxed. When I got back we shared the treat and then went to bed. I slept until 8:00. Va wanted to eat breakfast in Portland at the “Old Country Buffet” except it has some other name that I can’t remember up here. Hometown Buffet? I dunno. They used to have one in Manassas when we lived there, and they put out a pretty decent breakfast spread. Much better than your typical hotel continental breakfast. So we stopped there on the way home.

After breakfast we set out in a homeward direction. That’s when Beth had a bit of a meltdown. She was upset about something pretty minor and was crying as if someone had cut off her foot. I tried to give her some perspective and told her to think about the good things that happened to her this week instead of the bad things. I told her that’s what I was doing. Bad things happened to me while we were away (mop bucket), but I was choosing to think about the good things instead. She regained her composure, and I felt like I had done something right. I didn’t know how right until later.

The plan was to have another cardboard boat building session at the church at 1:00pm. We were running too late to go home and then come back to the church, but early enough that Beth and I were able to stop along route 4 and look for some geocaches. Va went on home.

At the first place we stopped to look for a cache, we saw someone at “ground zero” poking around some fallen logs. There was car parked there with e geocaching bumper sticker. I correctly assumed it was a geocacher. We introduced ourselves and then looked for the cache. Beth and I were not able to find it, and I don’t think the other cacher was able to either. But I did find something better:

My first skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

My first skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

I have been looking for skunk cabbage for a couple of years now, and this was the first time I had ever seen it. I recognized it immediately and called Beth over. “What is it?” she asked, so I told her “Take a whiff!” “Ewww!” It does smell rather like a skunk, but not nearly as strong. Peterson says it’s edible, but since I didn’t know what part was edible (or when) we left it alone. That’s a good thing too. When I got home I looked it up, and you’re supposed to let it dry out first, or its calcium oxalate crystals will cause some significant mouth pain. Maybe someday I’ll try it after properly drying it out first.

We stopped for two other caches, but only found one out of the three. Oh well. We got to the church right at 1:00 and found some Pathfinders already there waiting. So we did some boat construction. Both of the boats are coming along “swimmingly” as I like to say. That sounds like it might involve swimming, but it means “pretty good.”

I was too busy with the cardboard kayak to take any pictures. Which means I was doing too much of the work myself. 😦

The rest of the plan for the day was for Beth and I to go to our first Geocaching event, which was about a mile from the church. We met Bandyrooster there – a cacher that I have been corresponding with for a little while. She is a very friendly person, and it was great to meet her face-to-face. The three of us went caching for about two hours (I think – I was starting to tire by that point), and we found something like ten caches. Beth found one more than me, because we stopped at one I had found previously without her. Here’s a shot of Beth with Bandyrooster (aka, Marge).

Beth and Bandyrooster fishing out a geocache.

Beth and Bandyrooster fishing out a geocache.

Penny was over the moon when we got home.

Beth took a bath and went to bed shortly after that, and I stayed up as long as I could keep my eyelids propped open. Then I headed up too, and found this two-page note on my pillow.

Dear Daddy,
Thank you for bringing me to Music Clinic. I really had a fun time. Thank you for letting me swim at the hotel. Thanks for buying me Twistables. I love my new hair ties. Thank you for paying the Music Clinic fee, the hotel fee, and other payments for me. Also Thank you, for letting me have some free time in the hallways. I really enjoyed it. I really don’t have anything to offer you except for a really big hug and a kiss. Plus, of course this note.

Thank you for taking me Geocaching afterwards with you. That was so much fun. Please accept my full apologies about how I reacted in the car.



That’s what I call payoff. I don’t think she’ll know just how fully this paid for all that money, time, and effort, until she has kids of her own.. It brings tears to my eyes to even type this. I count it as one of the best “fatherhood” events I have ever experienced. Sweetheart, you have repaid me in full.

Yesterday Beth and I took a a short hike to visit our geocaches.  Hers had been reported as somewhat vandalized, and I wanted to drop a travel bug in mine.  The vandalism to hers was not severe.  Someone had found it and scattered the stuff in it around.  The cacher who reported this could not find the a log book.  So we went there with a new log book, and hid the cache somewhere else.  We need to add more toys to it though.

Then we quickly made a visit to my cache.  I dropped the travel bug in it, and also emptied all the trade items and arranged them in a pose.

I don’t know which if these guys is Little Cohas.  We bushwhacked to the cache (that is the only way to get there), but from a different direction this time.  On the way, we saw a log crossing Little Cohas Brook, and from the other side of the creek, it was only 50 feet or so to the railroad tracks.  So we crossed the log.

Beth went first.  Penny went last, but she decided to swim across.  It was much easier going that way, because there is a trail that dumps out onto the railroad tracks. 

We went home and I got cleaned up a bit.  Va and I had tickets to see the Granite State Symphony Orchestra (compliments of my employer).  They performed three songs, one of which I am well familiar with, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture.  I especially enjoyed that one.  Va liked that las piece they performed, Tchaikovski’s Fourth Symphony.  I may have liked that one better had I been familiar with it, and I guess that says something about me.

The next morning we had a Pathfinder meeting, and we resumed work on the cardboard boats.  Here’s where we left them:

I need to bring in a second set of sawhorses to put the kayak on.  It’s hard to work on it on the table (can’t get the rope beneath it very handily).  I am very well pleased with the progress of the kayak.  If we pull this off (and it looks like we will), I am convinced it will be the fastest boat in the competition in May.

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.

My Little Cohas Brook cache has been activated.

Beth and I went out there yesterday and planted it in the place I had prepared. Beth also hid another one nearby (but not too nearby).

Mine has already been solved, but as far as I know, it has not yet been found.

I am almost finished insulating my attic, a project that I started before we even moved into this house seven years ago. We had snow yesterday, and because I still have four more feet of attic to insulate, I can show you what good the insulation does:

Insulated well vs insulated poorly

Insulated well vs insulated poorly

See how the snow has melted on the last four feet of the roof over there on the right (not counting the part of the roof that extends beyond the house)? That’s where there is no insulation. Heat from the house escapes through the roof right there and melts the snow. If you look closely, you might be able to see icicles on that end too. That’s where the snow melts, runs off the roof, and then refreezes. If that builds up too much, it will create an ice dam, and water will pool up behind it. Then the water will find its way through the shingles and into the house.

So I guess I’d better finish this little job.

When I posted yesterday, I had meant to include a scenic photo that I captured during my walk with Penny to Sandogardy Pond. Here it is:

Gline's Road

Gline's Road

Sorry about the water spots on my lens. I was remembering the scene, not the photo.
This little path is a class VI road, meaning it is not maintained. It is never plowed, and it is never graded. Rather, it just is what it is. I know that sometimes vehicles do drive on it, because they leave their tracks. But more frequently, it is used by snowmobiles, 😦 ATV’s, 😦 pedestrians, 🙂 and dogs. 😀
Penny and I were the first to use it after this snow. Someone actually drove on it since then with a truck or 4WD, which boggles my mind, since it doesn’t lead anywhere that the plowed roads don’t lead to more conveniently. Go figure!

Jonathan and I stopped at the pond on the way home from work. He stayed in the car while I walked the couple hundred yards to Little Cohas Cache, GPS in hand. I took some readings, and will translate them into the Abenaki tongue later tonight. I think I might nail the bark covering on tomorrow afternoon. Then if I can stand to wait, I will refrain from publishing it until it snows again. Otherwise, my tracks will lead the cachers straight to ground zero. But I don’t think I will be able to restrain myself.

We finally got some snow today. It wasn’t very much (3 or 4 inches), but it was enough to cancel school for Beth. I slept in and then did some work from home (but only managed to pull off half a day – the other half is vacation).

Penny takes a break

Penny takes a break

I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I also brought my camera, a one-inch chisel, a claw hammer, and a geocache I intend to hide in a dead pine tree along the banks of the creek that drains the pond. I have written about this cache before.

I have been doing a bit of research about Little Cohas, the Abenaki man who lived near the mouth of this creek. Cohas means “small pine tree.” I believe that “Sandogardy” also derives from Abenaki – “Sandagaji” means something like “next Sunday,” as best I can tell.

So what was the chisel and hammer for? I found a large, dead pine tree with a lot of holes in the trunk. My plan was to enlarge one of them so that it could accommodate the cache container:



Part two of the plan was to break off a sheet of bark and nail it over this hole to conceal the cache. I did manage to dislodge a large enough sheet from the tree, but when I put the nail through it, it broke into four pieces. So I put the pieces in my coat pocket and took them home. They have since been glued to a piece of mason board. I drilled a hole in the top of the cache “door” and put a nail through it. The other end of the nail will go into the tree just above the cache hole. It should be easy to rotate it out of the way and reveal the cache.

This will be a puzzle cache. The coordinates are written in the Abenaki language, so people will have to do a little digging to find it. Don’t tell anyone!

It snowed a little today. We got about zero inches. I noticed the flakes out the attic window. Yup – I was up there installing more insulation. I am now well past the half done mark, but that includes the work I did two years ago too. I’m pretty sure I will finish it (or come very close to finishing it) before my holiday break ends.

When I had about all the insulating I could take in one dose, I headed down the stairs. Poor Penny had not been taken outside for exercise all day. David has been sick with a sinus infection, and Va was in town running errands. So I grabbed my camera and took her down to Sandogardy Pond.

It has frozen over now, but I don’t think the ice is safe yet. I did go out on it, but if I had fallen through, it would not have been deep enough to wet my knees. It was plenty slick though.

Sandogardy Pond is frozen

Sandogardy Pond is frozen

The puddles in my driveway are frozen now too, so it’s almost like it’s paved now. In places.

Penny and I headed down the trail that parallels Little Kohas Creek. Penny does not like the bridge that crosses the creek, but the last time we were down there, she crossed it anyhow. She thought about wading across, but I told her not to. Then she tried the other side, and again I told her not to. Then I told her to sit. I was not going to go very far. I was looking to see where Kohas might have built his cabin (no luck there). But Penny could not stand it. She carefully treaded over the bridge with much trepidation. Of course that meant she would have to cross it again, but on the return trip, she went over without hesitation (but still with plenty of trepidation).

Today she toddled right over. I still have no idea where Kohas’s cabin was, but I am planning to plant a geocache along the creek in his honor. I found a place to hide it last time I was there, but then got to thinking about the snow. When it comes, it will make the cache inaccessible. It’s better to hide them higher up so they are accessible year-round. But it’s also harder to find a hiding place up off the ground. I thought I had found a spot, but now that I think about it, it might not be above the creek’s high water line. Or maybe it is. The pond regulates the creeks depth pretty well.

While I was out looking for a place to hide my cache, I spotted a strange fungal formation in a tree.

Funny Fungal Form

Funny Fungal Form

There are two growths there. A very large one on the trunk, and a smaller (but still large) one growing on a dead branch. It looks a little like the lid to a teapot to me.

But back to the cache. I ordered some plastic toys which are models of some Powhatan Indians. Kohas was probably a Pennacook Indian, not Powhatan, but the Powhatans were the only eastern tribe I could find on the Innernets. Most are Plains Indians (and come with cowboys). When my Powhatan come in, they will go in a Lock-n-Lock container along with the cache log, a pencil, and maybe a little more swag. I will eventually find a place to hide it.

I am also going to hide a cache near the Northfield Union Church. That church was built in the late 1800’s and given to the city of Northfield so that any denomination that wanted to use it could, and free of charge. The first four to do so were the Methodists, Congregationalists, Freewill Baptists, and Adventists. Each one of these denominations has an organizational logo, so I am looking for lapel pins depicting them to go in the cache as trade items.

The Adventists who met there were probably not Seventh-day Adventists (because there is no mention of anyone meeting there on Saturdays), but I am going to go with an SDA pin, because that is my own denomination, and I have a dozen SDA pins already (mostly from Pathfinders).

For the Freewill Baptists, I may have to go with a more generic Baptist pin. I plan to check out a local Christian book store to see if they have anything like what I want, and if not, I will turn to the Internet again. Keychains would work just as well as pins.

When Penny and I got home again, I was pretty tired. I sat down for a few minutes and then broke out the vacuum cleaner and ran a load of dishes. Va was in town running errands. By the time she got home, I was snoozing on the couch. She made a nice pot of chili and a batch of cornbread, and that revived me again.

West Road Bridge

West Road Bridge

Last weekend Beth and I went for a walk after church. We decided to walk around an old bridge over the Merrimack River. As you can see from the photo, the bridge is no longer functional. It used to connect Canterbury to Boscawen, but it hasn’t done that since around 1965. And yet, here it is still.

Both Google Maps and my Tomtom GPS recommended this as a good way for me to get to Concord from my house. I disabused my Tomtom of that notion and reported the error to Google. Google eventually saw the wisdom in my recommendation to remove this bridge from its database, but it took them a year (they did get back to me on that though).

Penny loved it here. I let her off her leash as there were no people around. This is a popular swimming hole in the warm months – not so much now though. Penny kept us supplied with sticks, as is her wont.

There is a geocache in this area too. I looked for a it a couple of times but was not able to find it. Then I noticed one day that it had been stolen from its original location, replaced, and hid somewhere else. No wonder I couldn’t find it. Armed with the new coordinates, Beth and I made quick work of finding it.

There was another one upstream from there, but I didn’t think we’d be able to get it. It is supposedly located on an island. I figured that if the river level were down enough, we could probably reach it, so we set out in that direction.

There are some fields along the river here, with signs that say something to the effect of “The walking public are welcome, but snomobiles and ATV’s are not.” That’s my kind of place! We walked through a post-harvest cornfield and found this fly in a milkweed pod:

Fly on Milkweed

Fly on Milkweed

I tried to get his picture while he was still inside the pod, but that disturbed him too much, and he made a quick exit. I guess it was too cold for him to go very far though, so I managed to get this shot.

American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)

American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)

There was lots of this stuff growing on the banks. I didn’t know what it was, though I have seen it before. When I got home I looked it up and found that it is American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens). It should not be eaten (unless you want to vomit).

When we got far enough upstream where I could see the island, I could tell there was no way we could cross over to it without swimming. By then Beth was ready to go back home (though Penny was not), so we turned around.

November is brown. Everywhere I look I see brown. In October the leaves are yellow, red, and orange, and in May through September they are green. After November we get snow, and that makes everything white. But November is brown.

That makes it challenging to find things to photograph, which is perhaps why I haven’t posted many photos lately. On top of that, we switched back to standard time this month, so when I get home, it’s already too dark to take any pictures. But since I didn’t have to go to work today, I made an effort.

Beth and I rode our bikes down to Sandogardy Pond. I had Penny on the leash, but when I’ve done this before, it was hard to keep from running her over with the bike. I tied an extra six feet of rope to her leash today, and that worked out much better. She was able to get out ahead of me with enough distance for me to react to any sudden changes of course. Yay! But it was harder to keep the rope/leash from getting tangled in the bike. Still, it was an improvement, and Penny loves to go for a nice run like that.

When we got to the pond we saw… brown. There is a little ice on the surface near the shore, and I took a few shots of that, but none were post-worthy. Then when we headed back I noticed some unusual ice structures in the dirt.

Ice Needles

Ice Needles

These ice needles were over an inch tall – maybe an inch and a half. I have no idea how they form, but I do find them very interesting. They crunch when you step on them or ride a bike over them. Also… they are mostly brown.

When we got home we did not have to wait long for dinner. Va had prepared an awesome meal. We’ve been picking at it for the rest of the day, and I am still to be considered overfed at this point.

Beth and I then set out in the car to see if we could collect some geocaches. I’ve been working on what they call and “unknown cache”. They call it that because the coordinates are not usually published – you have to solve a puzzle to get them, or complete some sort of quest. The one I’ve been working on is called “17”, and to get that, you have to find 17 (or more) “unknown caches”, and they have to constitute at least 17% of your finds. I still have a little ways to go.

The one we grabbed today was my 11th out of 66 total, which puts me a hair under 17%. All I need to do is find 6 more, and I can grab “17”. I have solved enough puzzles to do it – I just need to go out and get them.

Today we had to leave the house early so I could meet a guy who would give us an estimate for electrical work on the church. This is work I am well able to handle myself, but unfortunately, it would not be legal for me to do it. We have to have a licensed electrician. We used to have a member in the church who is licensed, but he moved to Texas last year.

Anyhow, the bid came in at over $2600, which was about double what I was expecting. Ouch. After I showed the estimator around, I dropped my car off for an oil change and tire rotation. Then I walked to the office from there.

My buddy Wayne was having his car serviced too, but not at the same place. He also walked to the office this morning, but from about triple the distance I did. After work Jonathan and I gave him a ride to his garage (but first… we had to walk to mine).

In other news…
I have been hacking together some software to process geocache data that I download from their site. Though it is still very much a hack-job, I was able to use it tonight to add about a thousand geocaches to my Tomtom. I’ve been virtually cruising down I-81 downloading caches in preparation for a trip we’ll take soon.