Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pancakes with Tyler and Jaimie

Saturday was very cold, with temps at the start of the day below zero.  It was a good day for pancakes.  Tyler has the day off from work and Jaimie was passing through on her way to Maine. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gray Squirrel Snacking

I captured this scene outside the bay window in our family room.  The photograph was taken through the glass window. 

We have a patch of backyard grass showing after the recent warm weather and rain, where I spied this squirrel digging in the grass.  After finding a morsel (meat of an acorn?), the squirrel climbed the maple tree right by our window, where I presume s/he felt more protected while enjoying the treat.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Great Brook Farm Day 2

It was good to see GBF doing a brisk business.  In spite of all the cars, however, there are plenty of trails for skiers to spread out.  The panorama image below shows the farm house and farm buildings of this working farm on state park land.  Depending on the size of your monitor, if you click on the image below (on my computer it takes just a single-click, and a double-click won't work), you should get an image that will fill you monitor as the uploaded image measures 9000 pixels wide.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Friday night sunset

I took this picture near Green's Cemetary in Carlisle, across the street from Kimball's Ice Cream, while driving home from work Friday.  I had just a few minutes of this great firey color so I couldn't be picky, but I did want to get away from the all the telephone wires that blocked the view from Kimball's.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mt. Sunapee on Thursday

Tyler and I skied Mt. Sunapee on Thursday and I got a chance to ski my new skis.  They're pretty nice, but I don't think I have yet adjusted my technique to get the most out of them.  I have no photos, even though the scenes at the top were awesome.  The snow covered trees looked like white coral.  Though I had my camera with me, it does no good to have left the battery in the recharger at home!  Lesson learned (I hope).

On Thursdays Sunapee charges their normal midweek rates; but also give each ticket holder a $12 voucher for food.  That sounds like a lot of money for lunch... right?  Well, we learned that $12 doesn't go too far at a ski area.  On the other hand, a coke, a cheeseburger and sweet potato fries (exactly $12 total) is really all you need.  And it saves making and bringing a lunch!  Incidentally, $12 was the cost of an adult all-day ticket in the mid-1960s.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Verizon FIOS installed on Wednesday

Verizon hooked us up to fiber optics on Wednesday and we now have their very high speed Internet connection bundled with cable TV service.  We expect to save about $30 per month over the separate Verizon and Comcast services we'd previously maintained. 

But faster Internet (even faster than the DSL we've had until now) is the real motivation.  Both Laurie and I back up our computers online (me to Mozy and she to Carbonite).  It is here that the faster connection helps, as does it also for me uploading full-size image files to Zenfolio.  Fifty full sized images that would normally take about 40 minutes to upload to Zenfolio took less than 5 minutes yesterday!

We're also hoping a more powerful signal from the wireless router will be more easily received by our laptops when we are in the family room or even on the porch.

Our verizon email addresses remain the same, which is also good; and which is why we didn't go with the Comcast bundled services instead of FIOS. 

One neat thing is that on channel 131 Verizon has a two hour loop video that teaches you all the features.  That's a lot better than browsing through the thick user guide as far as I am concerned.

The DVR is kind of cool.  Even when we tape a show on the downstairs cable box, we can watch it on the upstairs cable box. 

But one immediate disadvantage is that we lost all the TV recordings we had made through the Comcast DVR system, including the final two episodes of Monk!  I guess we'll be renting the final season DVD from Netflix.

Christmas and Happy New Year

(Above: stockings for Laurie and me on Christmas morning.)

It took Laurie and me a long time this year to celebrate Christmas with all of our children.  After at least one "canceled" weekend due to a snow storm, we are happy and thankful that everything eventually pulled together, with our final celebration on January 16.  During this Christmas season, we were also able to get together separately with my Dad and Jean, my Mom, and Julie,Ben and Jennifer.

I have now uploaded all my pictures to my computer and will soon be getting images onto my Zenfolio site.  I will email the link to family members when I am done!

With Christmas complete, it's a good time to wish all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Did you know that Nashoba Valley has Snow Tubing?

The entrance to the snow tubing area is off of 2A, a bit east of Littleton Common.  It's access is different than the driveway to the ski area, and I doubt you can walk from one to the other.  Generally, you can "tube" until 10pm.  It doesn't seem that people tube all day, however, as tickets are $25 for two hours.  They're also looking for groups or frequent users, with six tickets (a six-pack) available for $120. You can see the lift in the picture below, and the downhill slides are to the right, although I didn't see anyone going down at the moment I took the picture.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Salad is a real waste at Burger King

While waiting for electricity to be restored on Monday, Laurie and I took a drive to see the snow (and to perhaps see if there were any National Grid trucks at work nearby).  It was lunch time so we decided to pull  into Burger King (something we do perhaps once every 5 or 10 years).  Laurie had the garden salad with grilled chicken.  I couldn't help taking a picture of the packaging materials and throwaway plastic that came with this single salad.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Moose Drool coffee

Like many folks in this part of Massachusetts, Laurie and I awoke today without electricity.  Lost electricity is especially problematic if you rely on an electric blanket!

But power hadn't been out for long, as the house was still at the 60F we set the thermostat at each night.  The first thing we do when the power is out in the winter is turn on the gas fireplace.  Gas is wonderful, and since we also have a gas range we are able to heat water and do range-top cooking.

Coffee is the first order of the day.  And with this cool little press-style coffee maker Laurie bought at the Moose Drool Brewery in Missoula Montana, we were able to make a few cups of "Cowboy Coffee". 

What's Cowboy Coffee, you ask?  Well pardner, I don't rightly know for sure, but whenever the coffee has the color of the Colorado River after a mudslide... well, that's Cowboy Coffee in our opinion.  Of course, that's the coffee I'm talkin' 'bout in the cup on the right, as swallered by this here cowboy. The one on the left has been doctored up a mite by my favorite cowgirl.

Monday, January 18, 2010

First day of cross country skiing at Great Brook Farm, Carlisle

I took Friday off to do a little skiing. It was nice to see Stuart Johnson managing the ski concession at Great Brook Farm, as he and his family have done every year since I first skied there over 20 years ago.
(As I recall, perhaps incorrectly, Jaimie and Tyler were about 5 years old when they went on their first ski outing at Great Brook Farm. Whenever it was, I remember Tyler flying along like he'd been born on skis.)
I was pleased to hear from Stuart that they have been open 25 continous days (10 days in December and 15 days in January) for a great season so far.
I saw Stuart's dad zooming along on skis. It seems to me that every time I go there to ski, his dad is also there. He's probably in his 70's and I think is a former Olympic nordic ski coach, though my imagination might be getting away from me.

Ski tickets this year are $10, though perhaps that is a midweek, nonvacation week rate. Tuesday and Thursday they are open until 9pm. I've never skied then, but they have kerosene lanterns lighting a big loop which must be especially fun during a full moom.

Here's a link to their Web site:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

50 favorites from Colorado

I just created a collection of 50 favorite pictures from our two-week trip to Colorado and Utah this past fall.  If you are interested, they are posted here:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A couple of dragonflies

These two dragonflies were scored pretty well by judges the past two months in my photoclub monthly contests. I may have posted them here before, but now that blogger allows bigger photos, I thought I'd post them again. Both were taken in our backyard. Fortunately dragonflies are pretty photogenic. And they often just stand still while you take their pictures!  One other thing I learned while photographing them is that if scared off they will often return within seconds to the same location.  Sometimes I would keep the camera focused on their prior landing point, and simply wait until they lit again in the same spot.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Once in a blue moon...

I don't think I knew what a blue moon was until this week.  But for the first time in some 20 years there was a blue moon on New Year's Eve and there won't be another one on NYE until 2028. 

The simple definition of a blue moon is the second full moon in any given month.  In December, the full moons were on December 2 and December 31. Blue moons occur about every 2 and a half years, which is why we have the phrase "once in a blue moon".  Ordinarily we have 12 full moons per year, but since the moon's cycle is 29.5 days, a lunar year is 11 days shorter than our calendar year.  So, every 2 or 3 years we pick up a 13th full moon.  In 2009 this was in December.

I had hoped for a much "brighter" New Year's Eve night because of the full moon, but unfortunately the sky was quite overcast after a day of snowflurries.  I nevertheless did try to take a picture when we drove home after eating out.  The exposure here of 1/2 second was obviouisly not stable enough, as the image is blurred.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Slippery when wet

Driving out to dinner on Thursday night started off interestingly.  I guess there was a bit of ice under the snow as I left the side parking spot next to the house.  As you can see the car did not quite make the turn onto the driveway.  Fortunately I did not take down the lamp post (just out of range of this picture) though I feared I would.  And our snow-stakes are fiberglass so the one I ran over popped back up.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Eve: Diner at the Outlook Restaurant

Above the lodge at Nashoba Valley Ski Area is a nice restaurant called the Outlook.  We've only been there a couple of times but on this night we thought it might be nice to have dinner and watch the skiers come down the slopes.  Apparently, they do a nice business offseason too, though one of the attractions for us is definitely watching the skiers.