Time to Retire

Buy retirement gifts at Amazon.com

In September of 2012, Hewlett Packard offered me money to go away. When folks offer you money to go away I would suggest you do it because the next action is layoff. I suppose this counted as my first retirement. My co-workers asked what I would like as a retirement gift and I replied “anything but a clock”.  I envisioned myself watching the remaining hours of my life pass away on the face of that device.

I suggested a gift certificate for plants that I could call my “retirement garden” which would grow in beauty and size, happily that is what they did. Hewlett Packard had another idea.

Retirement Clock
38 years in the industry

I knew that my 2012 retirement was just a dry run, since I knew that it made sense to wait till I was 70 to get the maximum in Social Security. I wanted to retire, but have enough for food. So I took another job at a startup software company for an additional 4 years till I reached my target retirment age of 70. I worked with a talented group of engineers on a great product but the time had come to make the retirement permanent. Once again they asked what I wanted as a gift and once again I explained that watching a clock click off the remaining minutes of my life was a cruel gift.

They came up with a solution

Running Backwards
It runs backwards, I can feel younger each second

 

Time for a Climb

Folks are always telling me about Pitcher Mountain, now I see why.

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

1-sign

I’ve been itching to make a climb for a while now, but ice and deep snow have made forest travel very difficult. Many of the parking spots aren’t plowed in winter so even if you can find a good place to climb there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to park anywhere near it. My solution to the problem was Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard, which always gets plowed and is usually an easy, gentle climb.

2-trail-start

One look at the trail told me this would probably not be an easy, gentle climb. There was a good foot of snow on the trail and it wasn’t as hard packed as I had hoped.

3-trail

It wasn’t as bad as ice but it was quite warm so the snow was wet, slushy and slippery. If you stepped off the hard packed part of the trail you found yourself up to your knees…

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Into The Icebox One Last Time

Wonderful winter views and a great poem

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

1-ice-climbers

All of the sudden we’re having some warm weather with temperatures expected to reach near 60 degrees tomorrow, so I thought I’d better get down into the deep cut rail trail in Westmoreland before the ice began to melt and fall from the walls. As luck would have it there were a couple of ice climbers there. Ice climbers train here and call the place the icebox.

2-ice-climbers

They were two women climbers who said they were doing a “baby climb” and I had the feeling that they were just starting out. They were climbing ice that wasn’t that high; probably 20-30 feet. I didn’t hang around and bother them but I hope they did alright. I’ve read that ideal ice conditions for climbing happen between 20 and 35 degrees F because those temperatures produce the just right “plastic” ice; not cold enough to shatter, and not warm enough to melt…

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Things I’ve Seen

It was heartening to hear that Native Americans ate squirrels, I’m tempted myself since I inadvertently feed them.

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

1-out-the-back-door

After a cold December and the eighth warmest January on record, February is doing it again; we’ve had so many storms in the first two weeks I’ve lost track. This view is of my back yard after one of them; a light one, by the looks.

2-ashuelot-river

We’ve also had cold, but not much of the bitter below zero kind. Still, as this view of the Ashuelot River in Swanzey shows, temperatures in the teens for a few days are enough to get rivers freezing.

3-snow-wave

We’ve had plenty of wind too, and below zero wind chills one day. Because it has been so cold when the snow falls it falls as light powder which blows and drifts easily. In one spot it had been blown into a snow wave; curled just like an ocean wave.

4-snow-wave

I tried to be clever and get a photo through the curl of the snow wave…

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Taking It to the Streets

And I thought I knew a bit about Keene

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

1-aerial-view

We’ve had some snow here and it’s hard to get into the woods right now so I thought I’d take a walk through the plowed sidewalks of Keene. This aerial view from probably the 1960s shows a good part of the downtown area. Main Street was once, and might still be, the widest paved Main Street in the world, as someone has written on the photo. Where the street becomes a Y at the northern end is the town common. Washington Street is the right leg of the Y, and that’s where I go when I want to show you Beaver Brook Falls. On the left Leg of the Y is Court Street and that’s one way to get to Tenant Swamp, which I showed in my last post. By American reckoning Keene is an old town, having first been granted township status in 1732 and settled in 1736. The…

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Tenant Swamp in Winter

Winter Views

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

1-bridge

The last time I talked to anyone at the Keene Middle School about it, it looked like the boardwalk through Tenant Swamp behind the school might be closed in winter, so I was happy and surprised to find it open last weekend. You enter the swamp by crossing this bridge.

2-stream

The bridge crosses over a small stream which on this day had a skim of ice. For a swamp there is remarkably little standing water seen here.

3-boardwalk

I was happy to see that the boardwalk had been shoveled. At least I thought so…

4-boardwalk

Until I walked a little further and saw this. The snow had turned to a solid block about 3 inches thick, but thankfully it wasn’t slippery. On the left in this photo you can see the tall stems of the common reed, which is invasive.

5-phragmites

The invasive reed is called Phragmities australis and has invaded the swamp…

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Things I’ve Seen

My winter views from New Hamphire Garden Solutions.

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

1-half-moon-pond

After an extended nice warm January thaw we were brought back to reality by a sleet / freezing rain / snow/ rain storm that immediately froze into concrete like ice, making it treacherous to walk just about anywhere. This was the view across Half Moon Pond in Hancock to Mount Skatutakee, taken by cell phone the next morning. The pond Ice was cold but the air was warm, and that meant fog.

2-monadnock

It wasn’t fog but a cloud that tried to hide the summit of Mount Monadnock at Perkin’s Pond in Troy recently. There is still very little snow on this, the sunny side of the mountain. Every time it snows up there the sun melts it before it snows again, resulting in the least snowy Monadnock summit I’ve seen in a while.

3-puddle-mud

My thoughts turned from the lofty heights of mountaintops to the lowly depths of puddle mud when…

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By a Stream

Shapes and colors from New Hampshire Garden Solutions

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

1-the-stream

There is a small stream near my house that I like to visit at least once in winter and I did so recently. Right now it looks lazy and placid, but I’ve seen it rise overnight into a raging, road eating thing that easily covered everything in this photo except the trees. Its name is Bailey Brook, I just found out the night before posting this, but according to the Maine Geological Survey a brook is just a small stream. On the other hand a stream is a small river or brook, so I’m just going to keep calling it a stream.

2-tree-moss

One reason I like to come here is to see my old friends the tree mosses (Climacium dendroides.) They’re beautiful little mosses that I never see anywhere else. They must like very wet soil because they grow right at the edge of the stream and are…

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Things I’ve Seen

Winter Life

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

1-stream-ice

I visited the otter pond recently, trying to figure out how he would come and go. This small stream feeds into the pond but it’s too shallow and narrow for an otter to swim in. It had some beautiful patterns in its ice though.

2-icy-pond

The reason I wondered about the otter is because its pond is completely frozen over with no holes like there were the last time I saw it in December. Where do otters go when this happens, I wonder?

3-stress-cracks

All of the thawing and re-freezing has left the ice as smooth as glass, but the warm weather has made it too thin to skate on. The two dark spots show little to no thickness and there were thin ice signs where people skate. I’m sure there are a few dozen frustrated skaters it town because of it.

4-burdocks

I saw some burdocks and remembered how Swiss engineer George…

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Postponed – Train Talk with Dale Russell

I won’t be able to attend on the 26th, but this sounds very interesting.

New Ipswich Library

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We will update once we have confirmed a new date for this event.

Join us for a talk about trains!

New Ipswich Library

Thursday, January 26th, 7pm

Dale Russell is a train historian from Greenfield. He’s been collecting photos of old railroads and railroad stations, mostly in NH, for about 17 years. He has a collection of over 14,000 photos!
Dale will provide a brief history of railroads in NH and will have a slide show of some of his photos, as well as maps of railroads in southern NH. He will also bring some of his photo albums for people to look at after his presentation.
This event is free, but we request that you bring a donation be brought for the St. Vincent-DePaul Food Pantry in Greenville.

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