2016 Retrospective

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I have 9,326 photos that were created in 2016 (not counting the ones that I’ll be taking on New Years Eve).  Some of those were scanned from older photos, some were screenshots, or downloads. A lot of the files were duplicates or bracketed shots for HDR. I ignored those and chose a subset for a retrospective of the year. It was an election year and I have a few photos of some of the candidates, even one of the guy that won. Enjoy the tour.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

 

October

November

December

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A Flight Aboard the Tondelayo (B-25J)

Build your own B25J  Mitchell Bomber at Amazon.com

WingsOfFreedomTour-20160920-82_HDR.jpg
Plexiglass nose of the Tondelayo, a B-25J Mitchell Bomber, part of the Wings of Freedom Tour at Manchester Airport

I wanted to experience what it was like to ride in the same type of war plane that my Uncle Ed Poltrack flew in the South Pacific in WWII. I’ve seen photos,  taken the virtual tour posted on the Collings Foundation website and read some of Ed’s letters and flight diary accounts.

When the Wings of Freedom Tour visited Manchester Airport I had my opportunity. Before the flight we had to rotate the blades 9 times to clear out the pooling oil, something common to all radial engines.It was a thrill to hear (and feel) those twin 1700 HP Cyclone engines roar into action. After take off, I was able to crawl into the nose behind the machine gun with another “crewman”.  This is a war machine and nothing about it is comfortable. We were flying low and slow, I can only imagine my uncle flying over the ocean with a jacket, gloves, oxygen mask, fully loaded with bombs and being under constant threat of being shot at.

Wings of Freedom Tour
This aircraft is capable of flying at 272 MPH and has a sevice ceiling of 24,200 feet, we were just taking a slow ride

This video has three parts, take off, flight and landing. We had to sit in jump seats behind the pilot during takeoff and landing. After we were airborne we crawled on our hands and knees through a tunnel into the nose of the aircraft behind the front machine gun. That was quite a view. The video is long but imagine doing this for hours, in frigid cold with an oxygen mask on with the chance of being shot out of the sky.

Wings of Freedom Tour – Tondelayo

Build your own B25J  Mitchell Bomber at Amazon.com

38th Bomb Group - 823rd Squadron

There are more than one hundred surviving North American B-25 Mitchells scattered over the world, mainly in the United States. Most of them are on static display in museums, but about 45 are still airworthy.

A significant number of these were brought together for Catch-22, a 1970 war film adapted from the book of the same name by Joseph Heller. When Catch-22 began preliminary production, Paramount hired the Tallmantz Aviation organization to obtain available B-25s. Tallmantz president, Frank G. Tallman ended up finding war-surplus aircraft, and eventually gathered not only pilots to fly the aircraft but also a ground support crew to maintain the fleet. – Wikipedia

The Collings Foundation, located in Stow, Massachusetts sponsors a Wings of Freedom tour across the United States. When I learned they were flying a B-25 into Manchester airport,  the same aircraft my uncle piloted in the South Pacific, I knew I had to see this.

New Hampshire Chronicle was at this event and I was interviewed when I told them about my uncle. The segment can be seen by clicking on this link.

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B-25J Mitchell Bomber – This is a different configuration than the one my uncle piloted. The clear plexiglass dome was replaced with a shorter nose fitted with two fixed 12.7mm machine guns and a 75mm cannon. I remember him commenting that it was quite loud.
Wings of Freedom Tour
Before the flight, we had to rotate the blades 9 times to clear the oil from the cylinders. It takes two people to move each blade.

Wings of Freedom Tour

Tondaleyo was a exotic dancer. She danced at places such as the Cotton Club. She was considered one of the most flashiest women of her day, with diamonds, furs, and minks galore. She’s also credited for being the first black woman to own a nightclub in New York.

Wings of Freedom Tour
I’ve seen photos, read my uncles flight diary, but I wanted to experience what it feels like to be in this war machine. It is hot, smells of oil and is incredibly loud. During take off I was seated behind the pilots. Thumbs up and away we go.
Wings of Freedom Tour
Crawling through a tunnel in a flying airplane was an interesting experience, but what a view of Manchester, NH
Wings of Freedom Tour
Didn’t see any enemy aircraft

Mid September Flowers

Flowers in spite of the drought

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

1-pink-turtlehead

The pink turtleheads (Chelone lyonii) are blooming in my garden; one of the very last plants to do so. A friend gave me this plant many years ago and I think of her every time I see it bloom. That’s one of the best things about giving and receiving plants; they come with memories. I don’t know the origin of this plant and have never known if it was a native or a cultivar but it does very well and asks for nothing. Pink turtleheads are native to the southeastern U.S. and don’t seem to mind dryness in spite of naturally growing near water.

2-heath-aster

The white heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) is a plant that is so loaded with small white flowers along its stems that it doesn’t look as if you could fit one more on it. For that reason it has another common name; the…

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More Mid July Flowers — New Hampshire Garden Solutions

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Pickerel weed likes to grow in shallow water and the large amounts of it growing along the shoreline of the Ashuelot River tell the story of how low the water level is. We still haven’t seen any more rain than a quick moving downpour or two and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much […]

via More Mid July Flowers — New Hampshire Garden Solutions

Mid July Flowers

Another crop of summer flowers from NH Garden Solutions

New Hampshire Garden Solutions

1. Hedge Bindweed

This beautiful hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium) blossom hints at the rain we finally got last weekend. It wasn’t enough but it helped. Though for many years all I ever saw were white flowered hedge bindweeds it has gotten to the point where all I see now are these bicolor ones. Bindweeds are perennial and morning glories are annuals and one good way to tell them apart is by their leaves; morning glory (Ipomoea) has heart shaped leaves and bindweed has narrower arrowhead shaped, triangular leaves.

2. Pipsissewa

Our native wintergreens are starting to blossom and chief among them is pipsissewa, in my opinion. Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata) flowers often show a blush of pink. Five petals and ten chubby anthers surrounding a plump center pistil make it prettier than most of our other native wintergreens. Pipsissewa flowers are from 4-6 inches tall and nod toward the ground…

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More Mid June Flowers — New Hampshire Garden Solutions

We’ve had hot dry weather in this part of New Hampshire but ox eye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) continue to delight. When I saw these in a small meadow by the side of the road they shouted JUNE! so I had to stop and visit with them. It’s hard to have a bad day while living […]

via More Mid June Flowers — New Hampshire Garden Solutions

Lowly Weeds

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This year folks will dose their lawns with gallons of broadleaf herbicides in their vain attempt to eliminate certain flowers they consider weeds. Personally I’m in awe of how these plants can continue to survive in the midst of the onslaught of chemical warfare.

I’ll never have the pristine solid carpet of green that one sees on advertisements, but I can do get the opportunity to look closely at these “weeds”.

Taraxacum officinale by John Poltrack on 500px.com
Dandelion the king of lawn weeds, time to make some wine

 

White Violet by John Poltrack on 500px.com
I see a number of both white and purple violets in my lawn. Time for a flower salad

 

Tulipa

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Emerging Tulips by John Poltrack on 500px.com
Garden bed at All Saints Episcopal Church in Peterborough, NH

I was pleased to see this bed of tulips looked so healthy. It is not the case in my garden. After a mild winter, my daffodils and daylilies sprouted a bit early. Around Easter the daffodils had well developed flower buds, just on the verge of opening.Then we got an unseasonably cold evening in the low teens. The plants went limp, not dead but hurting. Even the daylilies which are as strong as iron show signs of yellowing.

I’m not sure if any damage was inflicted on my Star Magnolia flower buds, but hopefully not. There is just no way to depend on New England weather.