The barn at the Freeman Farm at Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rail Initiative Meeting 11/19 At Union Station


For those interested in learning more about rail service options, and improvements, and how it could affect us locally.  This would be a great place to learn if it was possible for a train station that would be accessible for Sturbridge residents.







Questions?  

Jill Barrett

Senior Project Manager
FHI | Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc.
Innovative Planning, Better Communities
416 Asylum Street, Hartford, CT 06103
Main: 860-247-7200 | Direct: 860-570-0740 | Mobile: 860-539-2038


Monday, November 10, 2014

About Those River Lands...

I was wondering what ever happened with the River Lands the Town of Sturbridge purchased a few years ago to extend the Grand Trunk Trail along the Quinebaug River.  Last I knew the BOS had stopped work on the trail until the toxins found on the property were remediated.

Last time I wrote on this subject was last January, and I haven't heard, or read a word about the lands status until this morning.

This morning I learned that no actual remediation is needed, but only a recording, and delineation of the area not to disturb.  I'm told that the area is about two acres.  The order from the Sturbridge Board of Selectmen not to do anything on ALL the acreage still stands, after all this time.  It is time to move on, ad get the trail completed.

So, let me put it out there to the Sturbridge BOS.  What is the status of the River Lands, and when can we expect work to begin on completing the Grand Trunk Trail?












Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Serious Sunday Morning Thought

This is important.

Ebola is only spread by contact with infected body fluids, infected needles, and syringes, Fruit Bats, and primates.

That's it.

The medical teams in the U.S. that are caring for those infected clinicians returning from West Africa are not required to be quarantined for 21 days after caring for those infected persons, however if that same team cared for that infected person 7000 miles to the east, in, let's say Sierra Leone, and returned to the U.S. they would be subject to quarantine for 21 days.

Why?  What is the difference?  Care is care, right?

No.  Apparently it is not in the eyes of some state governments. Some states have made it clear that the care given over there is not quite as good for the caregiver as it would be if had been performed over here.

Dallas proved otherwise.

In Dallas we proved that we can offer the same "here's a band aid, and a prayer" therapy, that many world governments have extended to third world countries for generations,  to our own people inside of America.

We were caught with our isolation gowns down, and were too proud to admit that we had no clue as how to proceed.  We thought our big modern hospitals with their modern isolation rooms, and trained staff would be immune from Ebola hurting our own.  We could have done way better.  Nebraska proved that.

I admire the nurse from Maine that was quarantined in a tent in a parking lot with a bucket toilet for three days.  After returning from Africa, where she cared for those stricken with Ebola,  she said  the right things, in the right way in order to put the attention on a system that was not up to speed, poorly thought out, and based on fear, not science.

This isn't over.  There will many more health care workers exposed to the disease.

Fear is a natural component, but only knowledge, training,  and proper equipment are what matters.  Given to the right people they are the only things that can stop the outbreak.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Just When I Thought I Was All Set

Just when I thought I had a good system going, I find out that I don't.

Charter Cable recently went all digital.  What that means to folks like us is the TV's we have in our house that did not require a cable box now do.

It was too good to last.

Even is it is a digital TV, it still requires a cable box.  So, the old TV in the basement we used while throwing a load in the washer, or folding the laundry is now disconnected.  No sense in paying $5.00 a month for a cable box that is seldom used.  The TV in the kitchen did need a box, as did the TV on the wall in the bedroom.  Those were boxless for years, but now I needed to figure out where to put the newly required boxes.  The kitchen was fairly straight forward, the box sits on the counter with the tiny flat screen on top of it.  The vents aren't blocked, and it works.  The bedroom was different.  The TV is hung on the wall with no place to put a cable box.  I though of putting the box on top of my bureau on the other side of the room, but Mary knocked that thought out of my head.  No, it had to go near the TV, preferably above it.

The Container Store in Natick has a bunch of neat shelving products.  I bought a shelf system there a few years ago that was simple shelf supported by a cable.  The shelf hung above the TV on the wall putting the box, Blu-ray player, and Wii console up, and out of the way.  All the cables are hidden behind a cable hiding system I bought at Home Depot.

I drove back over to the Container Store to see what other options there were for the bedroom, and found a simple system of a shelve, and two supports.  It was rated to support up to 65 pounds, and was simple.  It also cost under $20.  Come to find out the Home Depot has a very similar system, too.

I bought the shelf, and supports, and installed them that day.  Took very little time, and Mary was happy.  The only issue was the new cable box had the time lit up on it all the time.  I never paid much attention to that on the other boxes, but in the bedroom that little bit of light is very annoying.  Between the air conditioner LED lights in the summer, the humidifier LED lights in the winter, the clock radio, the little standby LED on the TV, and now the cable box , the bedroom was lit up like Times Square.  Then I remembered reading an article about the phantom energy robbers in our homes.  One of the things that robs electricity is cable boxes that stay lit all the time.  I pushed the menu button on the remote, chose to have the clock off unless the box was turned on, and the problem was solved.  I did the same for all the other boxes in the house, too.

If you have a table to place the cable box on you are all set, but it your TV is stuck on a wall without a table in sight, then these shelves may be an option for you.

Saving a little electricity is always good, but getting that annoying cable box up, and out of the way is even better.






Tuesday, October 28, 2014

George Carlin Is Turning Over




I love George Carlin.  I laughed at his observations of life, but apparently didn't learn what he was teaching.  I've  become an expert at storing a pound of stuff in a half pound bag.  It happens when you only have a half pound bag to begin with, and a whole lot stuff that needs to be stored.  What makes it work is being creative.

I can be creative.

Our garage is a one car garage, and was built sometime in the 1960's.  It's large enough for a 1968 Pontiac Bonneville, and a lawn mower, but little else. It's a half pound bag.  In New England,  there is  stuff that needs to be put away.  Stuff that needs to be stored seasonally, or just stored till the next time it's needed.  A lot of New England folks have a different idea just what storage is.  It could mean putting something in the barn, the garage, or out in the shed.  Others just place it on the lawn, under a tarp. If I placed our stuff under a tarp on the lawn I can assure you that in a very short time one of the things living under a tarp on the lawn would be me.

Mary's tolerance only goes so far.

In order to keep our stuff inside, and out of the weather, I built a lot of shelves, and racks for holding all our stuff in the garage.  It worked.  Rakes, shovels, hoes, and extension cords hung from hooks on the wall.  Snow blower, lawnmower on the floor in the corner.  A small wastebasket, recycling bin, and bin for returnables in the the other corner.  Fireplace wood, ice melt, and bicycles in the back, and bike racks, ladders, sprayers, tire pumps, shrub trimmers, saws, pruners all hanging from hooks on the other wall.

It all fit.

Problem got to be Mary not being able to get out of her car once she pulled in after work.  It only took one night of her sleeping in the garage to convince me that we needed an alternative.  A barn would be nice, but a bit too much since we only have cats, and the tarp idea was definitely out.  It looked like the alternative was a shed.  

I've stick built sheds in the past.  I enjoy it, and I can do it very well, but time was a factor.  I didn't want to have to wait a couple of months  building it on my days off.    

This time I wanted someone else to do it.  

This concept is very foreign to a guy that will try to do most anything before calling in the pro's, but it was an attractive one.  

We pulled up the Reeds Ferry Sheds website on the computer, and went shopping.  The site is good, it has lots of photos of what they offer, tools for  designing sheds, and lots of shed options.  Siding options, roof line options, color options.  Where to place the door options, number of doors, and how wide of a door option.  Window options, too.  If you spent enough time on the site you could design a three bedroom, two bath shed.

After we looked over all the shed designs, and the multitude of options we took a ride up the the Reeds Ferry factory in Hudson, New Hampshire.  The place is immense.  A large factory where the sheds are built, and many different style sheds setup outside for us to walk through, and for getting our storage juices flowing.

It worked.  

We bought a traditional colonial shed, gray clapboard on the three sides, gray shingles on the front with white trim, and a double front door.  And window boxes.  Very New England.  "Has to have window boxes", she said, and I agreed, as my living in under the tarp in the yard was still a very real possibility.

The minimalist garage.
The neat thing about buying a shed in Hudson, New Hampshire is that they build it there, then load it onto a truck, give it a ride to Fiskdale, and unload it.  In no time, compared to me building a shed from scratch, the little building was unloaded, leveled, with the ramp, and window boxes attached.  And, I sat on a lawn chair and watched them do it.  

Watching others do in a fraction of the time I could do it was the best.  What a concept.

Soon, the Reeds Ferry guys were done.  They asked me, as they had throughout their time at our house, if I was satisfied with the shed.

"Yes", I smiled, "Yes, I am".  

Over the next week, or so, I moved all the stuff from the garage into the shed.  It took a bit of time to figure out just where everything was to be placed so that it would fit well, and be accessible.  Now, the garage houses only Mary's car, the wastebasket, recycling, and a couple of snow shovels, and a broom.

That's it. The garage has become a minimalists dream, however we did need to buy a shed to accomplish it.

George Carlin is turning over, I'm sure.