Autumn in the North Cemetery.

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

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Nuptials: Part Trois

Mary and I were wed at 6:00 PM on June 14th at Old Sturbridge Village. Some of you may have read in earlier postings about all our planning and how we happened to be married at OSV. Now I want to tell you how OSV made a very special day perfect.

Let me first make one thing clear, I am not on the OSV payroll.

At least I don't think I'm on their payroll. Don't hold me to that last statement.

We first met with Craig Arnold at OSV and shared our wedding plans with him. I liked him right off the bat. He had an infectious smile, and a way of enhancing our plans without detracting from them. And, he made the day affordable. Yes, I like him a lot.

After a few emails and meeting with Craig, we met next with Alexis Conte. I am not exactly sure just what Alexis's title at OSV is, but she seems to have had several during her tenure there and it shows. She knows her stuff. Again, not one to take anything away from our plans, but to gently enhance them by suggesting modifications, and a very high willingness to make whatever we decided on come to fruition. She very gently persuaded me to forget about the rollerskating chimpanzee as a ring bearer.

Yes, I liked her a lot, too. Both of these people made our planning and our day wonderful. Oh, there were some flukes, but it wasn't the fault of OSV. We hired a harpist for an hour and a half to offer music during the cocktail hour and a half hour into dinner. About 60 minutes into her gig, and after our entrance, I noticed a harp moving down the sidewalk to the parking lot. Strange. It was supposed to be moved into the dining room. I'll call her, and ask her if it was something I said?

First, let me share the ceremony with you. It was held in the Old Meeting House at the head of the Common inside Old Sturbridge Village. The candle chandelier was lit, and supplied the only additional light for the ceremony at 6:00 PM. The music was supplied by Walter Buckingham, OSV's head musician. Walter is a fine musician, and plays a number of instruments, including the antique pipe organ in the meeting house. The acoustics inside the church are good, so no electronic amplification is needed. Just as well. It would have detracted from the 1830's moment. He picked up the guitar a little over half way through the ceremony and sang "The Water is Wide" His voice was quite at home inside that old church.

After the ceremony, we left the meetinghouse for photographs on the OSV Common. A few photos in front of the church, and then a horse and carriage gave us a ride to the Salem Towne House on the other side of the Common. A few more photos, and then off on another carriage ride through the entire village. Alone. No family, no guests. No tourists. Just the driver and his wife, and all of OSV to ourselves.

The reception was a no brainer. Why travel somewhere else? The Oliver Wight Tavern was right there, although we had a choice of having it at the Oliver Wight Tavern, or the Bullard Tavern on the Common inside the village. There are several places in town that offer wonderful facilities for functions such as a wedding reception, OSV just happens to have two of them them.

The guests meandered over to the Tavern, and enjoyed a drink, and the harpist. I wonder how she was? We toured the village in the carriage, and made our entrance pretty much on time.

The Parlor was where the cocktail hour was held. It was done up very nicely with a little votive candies all over. The crew at OSV had done a great job setting up.

We were announced into the main room by the DJ ( he had to be told how to pronounce our name after he screwed it up introducing my parents), and then we began our first dance together.


Yep. Our first dance together as man and wife.


Where the heck is the music? We cast a glance over to the DJ, and he had no clue. Then the music began. Ahhh.

Wait. What the heck is this song? Celine Dion? How does one confuse Celine Dion with Michael Buble?

The songs from the DJ for the remainder of the night were just as foreign. We hadn't selected any of them. I had to speak to him a couple of times to increase the tempo of his music. I felt that he was channeling Lawrence Welk. Did he get us confused with the Lipschitz wedding? In the end he apologized for the songs, the wrong first dance song, and blamed it on the wrong CD's given to him at the office.

Yeah. OK. I'll be calling "the office", too.

The food was remarkable. Scrod, or the Turkey with Stuffing. Both were excellent. The table setting, and centerpieces were awesome. Tin lanterns surrounded by a ring of flowers Mary had picked out. Don't ask for any more details than that, I just know that Alexis and Mary did a great job.

All in all, I'd give Old Sturbridge Village a 5 out 5 Stars. The wait staff was friendly, efficient, and knew their stuff. The head server was excellent. She took care of every detail of the night for us. I'd give her 10 Stars.

Now, this isn't meant to be a "promo" for Old Sturbridge Village, but it is written to give credit where credit is due. OSV out did themselves from the planning, to the actual event itself. They took care of all the big things, and every little thing that would have consumed us. They did it with a smile, and sincerity. And, they did it for a price that wouldn't choke a horse.

Recomendation: Weddings and Receptions Old Sturbridge Village Sturbridge, MA
Five Stars *****

Now, about the photo at the top. That's Mary. It was our last day away, and we were aboard The Cat, the high speed ferry, coming into Portland harbor in Maine from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The week away was fantastic, and the ride on The Cat on that last day was a great way to ease back into the world.

So there you have it. Married In Style In Sturbridge. From a meadow ceremony wearing sandals and a Hawaiian shirt with an accordion player to a real event, thanks to using our imagination, and the folks at Old Sturbridge Village to guide us.

Thank you, OSV.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Director Of Museum Affairs Named At OSV

Old Sturbridge Village Names Carol Childress
Director of Museum Affairs

Former Opacum Land Trust head to direct membership and Donor relations at OSV

Sturbridge, Mass.-- June 17, 2008 – Old Sturbridge Village Chief Executive Officer James E. Donahue has appointed Sturbridge resident Carol A. Childress as Director of Museum Affairs. Childress will be in charge of membership activities and donor relations and engagement.

Prior to joining OSV, Childress founded the Opacum Land Trust, Inc., and served eight years as president and executive director of the 300-member organization, which is dedicated to protecting natural resources in the 13-town South Central Massachusetts area. In addition, Childress holds state certification as both a residential real estate appraiser and sales agent, and was previously affiliated with RE/MAX Professional Associates, Sturbridge.

During her tenure as president of the Opacum Land Trust, Childress supervised day-to-day operations, working with attorneys, directors and landowners on conservation issues and land acquisitions. She also directed fundraising, grant writing, media relations and grass-roots efforts, coordinating with businesses, municipalities, state agencies and civic organizations to further the trust’s conservation mission.

While at Opacum, Childress was honored with a 2004 Environmental Award from Massachusetts Audubon Society and Worcester Business Journal; a Senate Citation from Massachusetts Senator Stephen Brewer, and a Terre de Femme (Woman of the Earth) Award from the Yves Rocher Foundation of Paris, France.

“Carol’s skills and talents are a perfect fit for Old Sturbridge Village – she knows the lay of the land, she knows our communities and she knows how to inspire both individuals and large groups to work together toward a common goal,” Donahue said. “We admire her energy, her drive and her dedication, and we’re excited to have her join the OSV team.”

“Old Sturbridge Village is the heart of Sturbridge,” Childress said. “It deserves to be front and center – to be the premier museum, educational institution, and tourist attraction in Massachusetts. I’m looking forward to working with CEO Jim Donahue and the rest of the Old Sturbridge Village advancement team.”

A native of Southbridge, Childress worked at Old Sturbridge Village once before – as a “tavern maid” at OSV’s Bullard Tavern during her college days. “I’ve come full circle now and it’s good to be back at the Village -- but I wonder if my OSV tavern maid costume still fits!”

Old Sturbridge Village, one of the most respected history museums in the country, has a staff of 180 and has been recreating New England life in the early 19th century for more than 60 years. For details go to: or call 1-800-SEE-1830.

Best of Luck, Carol!--ed.

A Great First Step

It's been over one week since I last put anything here on Thinking Out Loud In Sturbridge, and as you can tell from the new title, I had little desire to do so.

Now, it's not because I no longer have an interest in Sturbridge. My head, and body, were elsewhere. As a matter of fact, both our heads and bodies were elsewhere.

We just went North for a week, and left the world behind.

Now, we're back, and I have some catchin' up to do, so let's read the papers.

First of all, I am going to start out pretty strong. Haven't done that in awhile.

On the front page of last weeks Tantasqua Town Common there is an article by Matthew Bernat entitled, "Installation of Kids Don't Float Delayed". The "Kids Don't Float" Program was established in Homer, Alaska in 1996 when the Homer School District and the Coast Guard Auxillary provided 15 life jacket loaner stations around Kachemak Bay. Kachemak Bay, Alaska is a boating area, and life preservers are a must have. What ever the reason was that children did not use them, or have them available in Kachemak Bay is beyond me. It could have been lack of education, funds, or a cavalier attitude. Regardless, the Life Preserver Loaner Boards positioned around the Bay has obviously saved lives, and the State of Alaska joined in supporting the program later that same year.

The program has grown over the years and has spread to other states, and most recently to Sturbridge. The program was brought here by the family of a young boy that drowned in Cedar Lake in the summer of 2007. The program does save lives, and is a fantastic volunteer program. The family has done well to bring the program to us, and at the same time work through their grief.

The article in the paper centered around the best location for the Loaner Board and the life preservers to be placed at the Cedar Lake Recreation Area / Beach. At a meeting there was some discussion as to the best location, and it was felt that the original spot would be covered by trees. It was decided to place the board and life preservers on the life guards chair. "We want the parents to see this sign.", stated the grandmother of the boy that drowned.

I agree, but the beach is the wrong place.

Life preservers are designed to be worn while boating, not swimming. There are other devices for swimming, and it is the parents duty to supply them. There are 'swimmies" for the arms of little ones to aid in their buoyancy while learning to swim, a other devices that are designed to aid the non-swimmer while they learn. Life preservers aren't one of these devices. Of course a life preserver will keep one afloat, and if a child is in the water at the beach, it will work if the water is deep enough to float the child, but the purpose of such a device is not to aid in recreational swimming.

It will not work if the water is too shallow to allow the child to float with the life preserver. Neither will "swimmies". They will not work if a toddler falls face first into 6 inches of water near the shore. Keep this in mind and avoid that false sense of security many of us get when we rely on safety devices to be the be-all, end-all.

So, what do to about kids at the beach? It's simple. If one takes a child to the beach, and their swimming skills are poor or non-existent, then one does not leave their side. Not for a minute. If they want to play in the water at the shoreline, then the parent accompanies them, and stays there till the child is done.

They are never to leave the side of the child.

The other thing to make sure of is that a life guard is on duty. Not just in the area teaching swimming lessons, or on break, or talking to friends, but actually on duty, eyes to the water. And, there has to be the proper ratio of guards to swimmers as well.

The life guard does not take the place of a the parent. The life guard is not a nanny. They are what their name states. They are their solely for the purpose of guarding life. That's it.

The parent of a child remains the parent. If the parent wants to bring their child to the beach, and the child doesn't swim a lick, then the parent either doesn't go till they learn by taking lessons, or brings a life jacket, or "swimmies", and understands that they cannot leave the child's side at all.

I have walked this walk, and I know that accidents do occur. That is why they are called accidents, but I also know that education, and accountability can reduce the number of accidents tremendously.

The "Kids Don't Float" program will be a great addition to our town for many reasons. One of them is that it will initiate conversation, and education about water front safety, and in a town full of lakes and ponds, it is much needed, and long overdue.

Even though I had lost a little sister in a drowning years ago, when I became a adult I had a pool built in my yard. I was not going to let a tragedy in my life affect my families life. There would be conditions, though. The pool would be sealed from the house, and street, and no child would be invited without their parent, and if that child was not a swimmer they would need to wear a flotation device regardless of what the parent felt, or their age. Lost some friends with that rule, but never a kid.

Bottom line is that whatever we can do to heighten the awareness that kids don't float, and to insist on parental accountability for teaching their children to swim , and protecting them near the water will be more than worth it

The above photograph is from Alaska's "Kids Don't Float" program.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wool Days At OSV

The following is from The Boston Globe A&E Calendar section June 11, 2008.--ed.

"Saturday and Sunday Wool days at Old Sturbridge Village The Sturbridge sheep are getting it taken off - all off. Wool Days at Sturbridge Village means shearing demonstrations and a chance to try your hand at the steps that transform dirty, tangled raw wool into something you'd want to wear. While you're there, take a spin around the common on the stagecoach, watch some old-fashioned baseball, or fish in the mill pond. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. $20; $18, seniors; $6 kids ages 3-17; $10, dads on Sunday. Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, Mass.; 59 miles from Boston. 800-733-1830.
Saturday-June 22"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Masters Voice

I've always wondered if the picture at the left was true. Would he still recognize the Masters voice once he was gone? Would he still jump, roll over, and sit if told do so by the sound of a disembodied voice?

I don't know. Seems logical though. He's heard The Masters Voice for so long. He knows what The Master expects by his tone.

Why not?

Then I wondered if others would still respond in the same way to the Voice? If one still responded it makes sense that others would, too.

Worth thinking about.

George Bush has been in office since I was in grade school. John McCain is a great guy, but not too far apart from George. If elected, will John McCain still hear the Voice, or will he act on his own? What about the others that followed The Voice? Will they still hear it?

I really don't know, but it seems that although the presence of The Master may be gone, his Voice voice will continue to resonate for not just one, but for many.

Only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Open Letter: It Ain't Over Till It's Over

The following was received June 11, 2008 regarding the Southbridge Landfill. It is here in its entirety, and without editing, with the exception of the removal of telephone numbers by the editor.--ed.

Please find my statement regarding the BOH decision, as well as correspondence between myself and Atty. Colognesi. Please give me a call if you have any questions or concerns.

Very truly yours,
Kirstie L. Pecci

Dear Mr. Colognesi-

As we discussed earlier today, I am trying to evaluate the legalityof the Southbridge by-law Section 3-209.1 which mandates a five-member BOH, contrary to the Section 4-3-1 of the Charter, which onlyallows a three member BOH. Kopelman & Paige's 7/21/03 opinion, andtheir more recent 6/3/08 opinion, both rely on the Town Manager'spower to "reorganize" the Town government per Section 4-5-1 of theCharter.I have attached the Reorganization Plan #1 (8/10/04) and the 6/4/08opinion letter from Kopelman & Paige (sorry - I think the pages areout of order, and when I correct them I lose parts of the text). Iunderstand that you already have a copy of the charter, the by-lawsand the 7/21/03 K&P opinion.As an attorney, and chairman of the charter commission, is it yourunderstanding that the Town Manager could increase the number ofmembers of the BOH via Section 4-5-1 or was an amendment to theCharter necessary to increase the number of BOH members? Your inputwould be greatly appreciated.Please let me know if you need any further information.

Thank you-
Kirstie Pecci

Ms Pecci,

My computer died a week or so ago. I am using an old machine until the new one arrives. It doesn't have the software required to open your attachments. Could you fax them to xxx xxx xxx (number removed by editor.--ed.). Regardless of what the opinions say my personal intent in voting to approve the usi pf the specific language that is used in section 4-5-1 was twofold.If you read both the old and current Town Charters you will see that the current charter significantly diminshes the powers of the Manager from those the Manager had under the original Charter. In simple terms, under the original charter the Manager effectively functioned as the Board of Selectmen and the Council as a Town Meeting.Under the current charter the Council functions as both the Board of Selectmen and the Town Meeting.However, I felt that the Manager as the head administrator should have authority to organize the various Town Departments as he or she deems most efficient without interference from the elected officials. Therefore reorganization plans are only subject to an up or down vote of the Council without modification.My approval of the use of the language "under his or her jurisdiction" was to make it clear that his reorganizational powers did not extend to boards or departments which exercise decision making powers which are not subject to being overruled by the Manager. Those in my opinion are the quasi-judicial boards, Planning, Zoning, Alcohol, Health, etc. Section 4-4-2, which refers to 4-4-1 is in the charter for the same reason.To set the charter up any other way would have allowed for removal of board members who made decisions the Manager or Council didn't like or to allow expansion of Boards to allow the appointment of "friendly" Board Members.To sum it up it was my intent that the only way to change the number of members of a board that the Manager does not have decision making jurisdiction over was to amend the Charter itself. This email expresses my opinion only. You will have to speak with the other Charter Commission Members to get their opinions on the matter.

Mike Colognesi


The recent Board of Health vote on Casella’s application to establish the Southbridge Landfill as a regional MSW facility should not be construed as final and binding. There are a number of circumstances that cast grave doubt upon the validity of the BOH proceeding.

According to the Southbridge Charter, the BOH is comprised of three members. A vote of the Council is not sufficient to change the Town Charter, nor does a town manager have the power to reorganize the Board of Health. Atty. Colognesi, the chairman of the charter commission, confirmed the limitations of the Town Manager’s authority in his email to me, attached hereto.

Until such time as the Charter is properly amended, there are only three legal members of the Board of Health: O’Leary, Zaido, and Barnardone in order of their appointment. Tremblay and Cook, the most recent appointees are invalid members. Only one of the three legal members of the Board voted to grant Casella’s proposal; the other two found that granting the proposal would pose a danger.

In addition, we will be filing an Appeal before Superior Court to overturn the vote to grant the Request, based in part on the fact that the Board has only three legal members, but also on the failure of the Board in following the Code of Massachusetts regulations.

The CMR calls for all parties to have an opportunity to present their case to the Board of Health. Nevertheless, the closing arguments and proposed findings were never presented to the Board by their Attorney, Michael Scott. When one of the Board members obtained the documents on his own initiative and presented copies to the Board, the Chair and Attorney Scott refused to allow them time to review them before calling for a vote. Moreover, they refused to allow the Board to discuss the Site Suitability Criteria on which the law requires their decision to be based. This is all a matter of record.

In addition, Atty. Scott wrote findings on behalf of the Board that the Board did not have an opportunity to read. Again, this is a matter of record. There are numerous other illegalities to justify this decision to be overturned on Appeal.

In summary, this matter is by no means decided, so it would be reckless indeed for the Acting Town Manager to spend money that the Town may not be entitled to spend.

Did I Say That Out Loud?

"It's not the heat, it's the humidity.", the store clerk said to me in her air conditioned check-out space. In my head I grabbed her by both ears, lifted her a foot off the ground, stared directly in her eyes and said, "No. It's the heat."

Heat brings out the crazy in me. Thank God it stays in my head. No, I wouldn't assault anyone no matter the temperature, but sometimes a little Water Mitty-ing is good to keep one sane.

I smiled back at the clerk, nodded, and in my best voice I said, "You've got that right."

Yesterday was day four of an early heat wave here in Central Massachusetts. No big deal, this is the time of year for it, but it is a tad early. Would I be better prepared, and better able to handle the heat if it came in four weeks?


It is the one thing I can whine about, and feel a camaraderie with others, too.

On the way out of the store a patron asked me if it was hot enough for me. In my head I nailed her with a squirt gun.

I smiled, and mumbled something. I was dehydrated, and slowly loosing perspective.

I'm glad that when all circuits are functioning normally we have this little "draft box" in our brains. We can think of a pithy reply, but edit it to fit the moment. Saves a lot of face, and bruises. There are times when the phrase, "Did I say that out loud?" can be heard, but for the most part what goes on inside our heads, stays there, and the socially accepted version is dispensed.

I do a lot of editing.

When I read of a proposal, or comment made by a co-worker, a relative, or a politician, I'll challenge it in my head first, then respond with the best socially acceptable response that still enables my feelings to be shared.

Giving my brother a wedgie, or flicking a spoonful of whipped cream at a co-worker is not socially acceptable. I need to be a better editor.

Well, it's not all my fault. It's all this humidity.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Seeing Ourselves Through The Eyes Of Others

I was sent this link to a Blog by Google. It is about a couple visiting our town on vacation. In the posting the woman writes of her stay in a local B&B, her dining experiences, her impression of our town, and her visit to Old Sturbridge Village.

It would be a very wise thing for every business owner, selectmen, board member, and especially, the Town Administrator to read this blog.

The adage about not seeing the forest for the trees is especially appropriate once you have read the piece.

Click here to read the Blog.

Utility Lines May Be Riding Off Into The Sunset

I like what I have been reading lately. I take things at face value, most of the time, and when a person, or a group makes plans, or sets goals, I look forward to watching them come to fruition.

This week, in the Tantasqua Town Common newspaper, I read a short article about burying the utility lines along Main Street from Route 131 to Route 148. Let's bury those puppies. This would be the first step of many to beautify the area along Main Street along with widening the sidewalks and placing a parking area on Route 20.

I have to admit I got all a-twitter when read those goals of Town Administrator James Malloy. I know, I know, words are cheap. Action is what counts. "We've been down this burying the utility line road before."

I know.

But, here is the difference today compared to then: Not only are those in favor of such changes watching very closely, offering to assist, but are also voicing their opinions with greater ease thanks to online forums, blogs, and emailing letters to the editor. Back in the day if you felt strongly about an issue the most you could do was get out your stationary, and pencil and scrawl a letter to the News. Maybe whine a bit at the breakfast counter with some friends, or at the most, offer your opinion at a town meeting.

No more. Today we can voice ourselves immediately online, and it does carry weight. No, the crazy, off the wall stuff will always be ignored for the most part, but real opinion from regular folks will be read, and heard.

One can't go about making promises or setting goals nowadays without the almost instantaneous feedback we have come to expect in this new information age.

That being said, I am still excited that the Town Administrator reiterated some of his goals for the record. Updating the towns Master Plan, ensuring improvements at the recently acquired Robinson Crusoe property, and exploring taking on a part, or full time Economic Development Director for the town. All are admirable ideas, and worthy goals.

One goal that was mentioned in the article was a no brainer. The Planning Board has asked the selectmen to improve the lighting and signage at the towns Park & Ride lot at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

What? We have a Park & Ride lot in town? I had no idea we had one. Really. Well, without a sign, or lighting it must have been hiding there in the dark all along.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Rules Of Engagment Part Deux

Back in March I wrote of a couple planning their wedding, and how it grew from the simple, to something else. The something else is all good, but it does amaze me how plans grow, change, and get tweaked.

We've been tweakin'.

I never planned anything like this before, but I've watched as friends and co-workers have planned weddings. I've watched them stress, pace, become exhausted, and then sit with a blank look as they stared at the calendar, counting the days remaining.


Not something I wanted to ever go through. I'm too laid back. So laid back nowadays that I am only inches from falling into a coma. Wasn't always this way, but I am thankful I am now, otherwise I'd be going out of my ever lovin' mind.

The wedding will be at Old Sturbridge Village. This was not the first choice. The first choice was a meadow. OSV is better, it offers seating.

When we first came up with the idea to explore the possibility of a wedding at Old Sturbridge Village we treaded slowly. This would mean it would be a real function, not just moment in time flanked by vows and expressions of love.

It meant there would be place settings.

We, or more exactly, Mary, has become a Wedding Planner. From flowers, to colors, to music, to seating, to choosing the entre, and selecting the wedding cake, she has done it all.

I rented a tux.

Oh, I've thrown in my opinion now and again, but she has done most everything. Thank goodness, otherwise we'd be exchanging vows on unicycles in front of Mister Chuckles, the clown.

I believe ones personality actually plans a wedding. She is more stable, so the event will be wonderful, and my input has been carefully tempered. The Cat Juggler is out. The calliope is a no-go, and an antique organ will supply the wedding music.

The finger puppet wedding favors for the guests are history, too.

To be continued...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Start With The Simple And Obvious

There has been a lot of talk lately about cleaning up the road sides, and designing an east and west gateway to town, sidewalks on the south side of Route 20, and more. This is a great step toward beautifying our town.

I have another suggestion. Won't cost a thing.

Have the Town Administrator call the Mass Highway Department and tell them to mow the grass on the large traffic islands on Route 20, and while they are at it, have them trim, prune, and thin the clumps of overgrown trees on the islands.

The grass is 18 inches tall in some spots. The clumps of trees were planted years ago to add a little landscaping to the islands, but have been let go. This area is the very first thing people see when they come off the interstate, and it has been neglected to the point that it is now an eyesore.

Great advertising for Sturbridge.

Just pick up the phone, make the call, and also ask then to come back every couple of weeks, too.

If we can't handle the simple and obvious, we will most certainly fail with the difficult and trying.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Today, And Forever, And Ever, And Ever...

"What better way to beat a dead horse than with a branch from a very old tree."

Reason # 27

There are so many reasons I enjoy living here in Central Massachusetts. Many of those reasons I have written about here. Some of the reasons I really like it here half way between Worcester and Springfield is the culture. Small towns have a different way of viewing the everyday things compared to towns inside of the I-290/I-395 Belt to Boston.

Property, and the way it is cared for, or not cared for is something I appreciate out here. Caring for something is a subjective thing. My idea of caring for something is totally different than anothers. Property is to be used as the owner sees fit. What ones idea of good use is, will vary from mine in some cases.

When we go for rides in town, and out and beyond Sturbridge, we find houses that are like little estates. Small, places that should grace the cover of Better Homes and Gardens to be sure. Then we find other places that have several old tractors, a washing machine or two, a log splitter, a car port filled with old wood stoves, rabbit hutches, 55 gallon barrels of stuff, an abandoned car or two, several half cannibalized lawn mowers, an equal number of snow blowers, a garden gnome, and blue tarps covering all the secret stuff. All this in the front lawn alone. No telling what lies beyond the back of the house. I like these places , too.

Saving things for a rainy day is an old Yankee tradition. We are most definitely Yankee in this neck of the woods. I have a hard time throwing stuff away. I think there will be a use for it at some later date, and most of the time, I am right. Some folks take this to the extreme. I think it is because they are more creative than me. I would use an old Maytag washer for a washer, that's it. Someone else more creative can see a myriad of parts just waiting to come back to life in some other form, or in some other machine. So, the Maytag waits for new life on the front lawn.

This Yankee habit is a good one. Saves money, recycles old things, and is a Green thing to do since no petroleum products are used in maintaining the lawn.

I am not so dedicated, but I admire the characters that are. Characters are another treasure we have here in the middle of the state. Of course, characters abound everywhere, but here in Central Mass, with our lower population, they stand out more.

They make life far more interesting.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The "Super Trail", Now, Why Didn't I Think of This?

The following was submitted by Tom Chamberland.--ed.

Grand Trunk, Quinebaug Valley, Airline and the Southern New England
Trunk Trail

For almost twenty years, people have talked and dreamed about a long-distance
trail through South Central Massachusetts and Northeastern Connecticut from
the Blackstone Valley to the Pioneer Valley. There has been considerable
progress on various parts of this trail and many towns have active trail
groups working to bring miles of trail online every year.
Now might be the time for all the various trail groups and other interested
people to meet each other and see what we can all do to help each other.

We're not talking about a new trail. This a "Super Trail" that follows parts
or all of the Grand Trunk Trail, Quinebaug Valley Rail Trail, the Airline
Trail and the Southern New England Trunk Line from Palmer, MA to Franklin,
MA. By promoting all the trails as one "Super Trail", we could get more
attention and more money to work on each trail individually. Good examples
of this are the Mass Central Rail Trail and the East Coast Greenway. This
"Super Trail" concept is similar to the Mass Central Rail Trail that includes
parts or all of the Norwottuck Trail, Wachusett Greenways, the Wayside Trail,
the Community Path, and others.

The goal of this meeting is for all of us to meet each other and discuss how
we might be able to help out on this "Super Trail" as well as our local
trails. We have planned a meeting for Tuesday, July 8th at 7pm. The place
to be announced later, but it will be half-way between Palmer and Franklin,
somewhere around Rt. 395 in Thompson, CT or Webster, MA. We will pick a
place when we have a better idea of how many people are coming.

I would please ask that you respond back by the 10th of June as to if you can
make it or not. If a majority of you can not make this date we will pick
another. I know we will never get a date that everyone can make, but we
would like to get a majority.


Scott Benoit
275 Woodstock rd
Southbridge, MA 01550