Wetlands below the Pistol Pond Dam, and behind the cemetery wall on Maple Street.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?



These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.


Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lifes Map Is Constantly "Recalculating", But You'll Get There Eventually

It isn't a bucket list thing.  No, far from it.

A bucket list thing is something one wants to do before they die in order to feel that their time here on this rock has been one of accomplishment.  Checking off things on a list is one way of keeping track of those accomplishments.

Nothing wrong with a bucket list if one starts it early enough.  If one starts a list early enough then life will steer one toward the items on the list,  instead of the need for accomplishments steering ones life.

An early declaration of goals is not called a list, but rather a map for the path one chooses.  Way points, destinations, layovers, and detours will be all over that map, and they will be added to, crossed off, ignored, and postponed.

I have one of those maps, and I have some postponed items that are now in the accomplished pile.  One of those things on my list from very early in my life was to ride my own motorcycle along the back roads of New England in the fall.

This week, on the first day of autumn, I did it.

The ride was freedom, fun, and a smile that started in Fiskdale, and was still there when  I arrived home again, and putting my bike back into the garage.

I'm still smiling.

When I decided that life finally was at the point on my map that would allow me to head in that direction, I began by taking the required test to obtain my motorcycle learners permit in spring of 2012.  Soon after, a small detour went up when we bought a summer place.  Just a detour, I've had those before, and the road it led me on was either a bit rocky, or better than my original route.  This time it was the latter.

This past spring, with only a few months left on my two year learners permit, and having no time learning, I signed up for a two day motorcycle safety course in Boylston.  Classroom hours, and hours on the asphalt course gave me a basic understanding on what it takes to get hurt, and how to avoid it.  The class also taught me how to ride.

At the conclusion of the course I took a written test, and a practical test on a motorcycle.  I passed both, and was awarded my very own Commonwealth of Massachusetts Motorcycle License.

Almost there.

I put off the idea of doing my long thought of back roads ride for a bit, there were other things that needed attention, and I don't like spending money on myself.

After a thinking things over this summer, reviewing the map, adjusting for detours, I decided to take the next step, and buy a motorcycle.  A tent sale at Sheldon's in Auburn was a very good incentive.  The motorcycle was affordable, in excellent condition, and apparently had been waiting for me.

Over that past several weeks I have taken the bike out and put a couple of hundred miles on it.  Each time I go out, I learn, gain more confidence, and understanding of my bikes, and my limitations.

This past Monday, it was bright, sunny, and the fall colors were starting to appear.  It was also the first day of fall.

It was time.

I took the motorcycle north on  Brookfield Road to Warren Road.  The trees, were changing, especially by the wetlands.  I stopped at a farm stand we usually buy our pumpkins at  in West Brookfield, took a couple of photos to remember the moment a destination on my map had been reached.  I then headed the back way to Brimfield, towards  Route 20, and home.

I have a lot of destinations left on my map.  I know I will be adding more as well, and there are others I will never reach, have gone by, and have been reset.  Reaching a destination is important, but not nearly as important the trip one takes in getting there.  That is where the learning occurs.  That is what makes reaching the destination so meaningful.

This journey took some time for me to reach those red, and yellow, leafed roads of West Brookfield, but it doesn't matter, I made it.   The neat thing is that it may have taken forty four years to get there, but I was sixteen when I arrived.












Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let's Get This Rolling

At the recent selectman's meeting this past Monday night, Selectman Mary Redetzke asked for support from the other selectmen in asking the state for a commuter rail station between Palmer, and Worcester.

Finally.

I've written about having commuter train access for those in the region in the past, and today I am writing again in support of the selectman's plea.  The addition of a rail platform on the existing line would be a tremendous boost to the area.  Commuters to Worcester, Springfield, and beyond in both directions, would be able to cut their commute time, save oodles of money, reduce wear to the roads, and our environment, and do it all by driving a little bit north to the CSX line, and boarding a train.

So simple.

No need for  tracks.  They are already there.  Just a station.  A sheltered platform.  A small investment with incredible returns.

Widening of the Massachusetts Turnpike from 4 to
6 lanes looking  west toward Exit 9 in Sturbridge.
There are some that question whether it would be worth the investment.  I, for one, would like someone else to do the driving on my commute to Boston, and I am sure Mary would enjoy it as well going to Worcester everyday.

A rail station would be an amenity that would attract thousands to an area that has been disconnected since the age of the trolley.  The turnpike was an innovation designed, and built during the Eisenhower years when the interstate highway system was being constructed countrywide.  Based on designs of the autobahn in Germany, modern highways served an incredible importance as our country grew beyond the neighborhoods, and out to suburbia.  The turnpike is mainly responsible for Sturbridge being who we are today.  Problem is, we are stagnant.

The age of the automobile not only spawned the toll road, but has maintained it.  Today, the turnpike is like an old soldier trying on his uniform years after he took it off.  It looked great at one time, but it simply no longer fits. The turnpike was built for 1957 traffic, widened for more traffic in the late 1960's.  2014 traffic is too much for the old road .  It is no longer the care free road from here to way out there, but a clogged artery that causes accidents, lost patience, constant repairs from the load, and travel times far exceeding the times the highway was orignally built to provide.

The highway brought the people to rural America, but is struggling to get them in and out on a daily basis.

Time to shift gears, and put an option out there.  Trains are a fantastic option.

Thank you, Mary, for your passion.




Previous articles on trains for our area:


Thinking Out Loud In Sturbridge: We Have Met The Enemy...

Thinking Out Loud In Sturbridge: Best Regional Idea ...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Not 2005 Anymore

Telephone landlines will be history within a few years.  The latest Verizon phone book for Charlton, Sturbridge, and Southbridge is about a quarter of an inch thick, and the residential listings are about a third of that.

We can actually see our world changing with each new edition.  Soon, only businesses will have landlines, and they will be over the Internet landlines (VOIP).  Mr. Bell's baby is beyond grown up, and now getting ready to retire.

The cell phone, and Voice Over Internet Protocol, cable telephone, has almost completely replaced the hardlined telephone line.  CAUTION:  OXYMORON AHEAD.  Now, we are a generation of relying on our cable company for uninterrupted service.

(sigh)

Then there's  the cell phone.  We  have we been turned into a head down, jaywalking, eye averting, texting, society who is only social when posting food pics from a restaurant , or of their cats being cats.

The expression, "Did I say that out loud?" was funny at one time, now it is expected behavior.  Everything that is running through ones head is immediately texted, posted, or pinned.  There are few secrets today.  There is no mystery.  We know everything about each other.  From your inseam, to your bra size.  From your dietary needs, to his GI issues.  Wishes, to fantasies.  We now know who each of us love, and who we don't.  Some of us ramble.  Others mutter, and others make absolutely no sense.  There are few that are eloquent with their posts, and others are only confirming what many have known all along, and are now sharing with the world.

Our behavior has changed almost over night.  What would have been regarded as rude, impolite, introverted, obsessive, compulsive, boring, and socially incorrect a decade ago, still is, but has now been given the term "social media" so it is a more accepted,tolerated, almost expected behavior.

Actually, it is the tolerated addiction.  Frankly, there is not much we can do about it.

So, while you are sipping your coffee this morning, and mulling this over, check out this pic. WTH is she staring at?  LOL.

My inseam is 32".










Friday, September 12, 2014

Heeee's Baaaaack: Post Warm Weather Musings & Ramblings

It's been a great summer, and I took some time off from writing this summer, emptied my head of most things thinkable, and let the breeze blow in one ear, and out the other.  I enjoyed the summer a lot.  We spend a lot of time at our place in Maine.  Nothing against my hometown, but if Sturbridge had an  ocean, I'd spend more of my summer here, too.


Wells Harbor, Maine
(c) 2014 W. Hersee
So, what's new?  

I do have a few things I've been thinking about.

In July I posted that the "Yield On Left" signs went up after it was brought to the attention of Sturbridge PD that they would be more than appropriate at the intersection of Route 20 and Route 148.  The idea was brought to MassDot, and after they looked it over they agreed.  Well done to everyone involved.

There are now two signs, one attached to the traffic light support pole on the right at the end of Holland Road.  The other is on it's own pole on the right side of Route 148 before the intersection.

Great sign, lousy location.

The drivers eyes are focused on what is in front of them, and since the road deviates slightly to the left here, and often there are two rows of cars as well, the sign is not seen as clearly as the the other one is.  To tell you the truth, I know it it there, but I never "see" it when I drive to that intersection.  It would be better on the same pole as the Holland Road sign, facing north towards Route 148.


What else is new?  

I heard the Town Administrator resigned.  Actually, I did know that.  Strange that he left a few weeks after coming over to our house, and looking over the Sturbridge artifacts I had, and wanted to get into the hands of the town.  Talk about being noncommittal.   I'll hold on to them for a bit longer before they see Ebay.

I don't see a rotary at Route 131, and Route 20.  

We have three Dunkin' Donuts in town, and I don't like their coffee any more.  I used to buy it everyday before work.  Then, they changed it up from flavored beans to "flavor shots", but I stuck it out for a few years.  Then the coffee began to loose its fullness, and started to taste watered down.  The coffee we brew at home tastes far better.  At first I thought it was only this way in that one Fiskdale location, but I found it was the same at all the locations in town, and beyond.  Their donuts are now generic, and bland.  So after being a Dunkin's customer for my entire adult life, I bailed on them.  They've grown so big that they've changed from  caring about quality, to quantity. Happens a lot to companies.  Cumberland Farms Coffee is 1/3 the cost, and tastes far better. For that matter, so does McDonalds coffee.  

Who would've thunk?

This week we are having insulation blown into our 1858 house.  Except for a pair of toy doll knickers that one of the insulation installers pulled out of the wall, there was not a lick of insulation to be seen in those old walls.  New boiler last year, Nest thermostat the year before, and now a newly insulated house, we should be in a lot better shape this coming winter.  I'll let you know how we do.

Mary's been asking for a shed to house all the stuff in our single car garage.  I had it arranged the stuff in the garage in such a way that she could park her car inside.  There was a problem with her getting out of the car, but she did become quite adept at siding in and out of the drivers side window.
I could have built the shed, I've done that before, but this time we drove up to Hudson, NH, and visited Reeds Ferry Sheds, and picked one out.  It's coming in a few weeks.  I didn't want to spend the summer building a shed.  I had beaches to sit on.

Last April I took the motorcycle safety course in Boylston, and received my motorcycle license.  Now, all I needed was a motorcycle. I figured that with the insulation, and the shed, it would be best to wait till next year.

It would have been best if Sheldons Harley-Davidson dealership in Auburn did not have a tent sale for the second time this summer.  The second time was too much for me.  

I caved.

I bought a 2005 Harley Sportster.  For me, this bike is one for me to learn on.  When I get more skilled, more confident, then I may go for something newer.  Right now, I have to continue to learn.  Good thing that shed is coming soon, it's going to be a great place to store it over the winter.

"That worked out rather well", he said with a surprised look on his face. 

Unfinished business.  Still waiting on some unfinished business I wrote about last spring.  One of them was who is responsible for enforcing town by-laws regarding pool enclosures.  When I hear, I'll let you know.  Another piece of unfinished business was addressing the dilapidated house beside the Blackington Building.  The town did find the owner, and the town did tell them that they wanted the building, and grounds made safe.  That means, cleaned up, and the house closed up to the weather. The family assured the town they would get some family together, and get on it as ASAP.

"It's coming along nicely", said no one ever.

Tell me what's been on your mind lately.

I do hope your summer was as wonderful as ours.  Let's enjoy the fall together.





Monday, July 28, 2014

Well Done

It's only been two months since a request for a yield on left turn sign to be erected at the junction of Route 148, and Route 20.  In the "Gettin'-Things-Done-In-A-Small-Town Calendar" two months is a nanosecond.

From suggestion to implementation it took under two months, and involved the Sturbridge PD, a selectman, and the MassDOT.

Well done.  An improvement suggested by Sturbridge resident for something all of us have thought of each time we drove south on 148 to that intersection, was also seen as being good idea by those at MassDOT.

Shows that the system does, and can work if done right, without dropping the ball.  This time all the players held tight.