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

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sturbridge Resident And The Carpenters Union Steps Up

I received a message on my answering machine yesterday. It was left by Sturbridge resident, Chris Mattioli. The message was short, and to the point, he said he would like to help with the putting picnic tables on the common, and asked that I call him.

I called him immediately.

Chris is a Union carpenter, and is involved at the Carpenters Union Training facility over in Millbury. He ran an idea he had by his boss yesterday. What if the carpenter apprentices built the table for the Sturbridge Town Common for free? All they would need is the stock, the money for which could continue to be raised on this site, and hopefully from individual businesses in town.

I was floored.

Someone finally has stepped up with an idea that would make placing the picnic tables on the common possible for one half the price. If we could get just two 6 foot tables it would be great.

This is how things are supposed to work. An idea is born, and then shared. Others look at the idea, and if they feel it is worthwhile, then they will add to it from their end. They may know someone, or have a certain skill that may be invaluable for the completion of the idea. Chris has both.

As a result, I will extend the deadline for the collection of funds for the picnic tables. Those that do give will find their names listed here, and the businesses that give will be given FREE advertising space on this site for one year, along with an acknowledgment of their donation.

Picnic tables at half the price of what was originally projected. In these times, that is as good as Donald Trump stopping by and helping out himself.

I like this idea. The Carpenters Union has stepped up as well, and they are not even located here in town, so I challenge those businesses here in Sturbridge to do the same, and to step up. Restaurants, liquor store, retail stores, gift stores, motels, hotels, coffee shops, and manufacturers please give what you can.

The tables are a simple thing, but they will bring a great deal of enjoyment to our towns residents and visitors.

More Dam Logic

Hello everyone,

Please forward this e-mail to your Sturbridge neighbors, friends and family, and other Sturbridge residents. Please respond to me after reading this if you can join me:

Last Thursday evening, an informational meeting was held about dam removal and stream restoration at Hamant Brook. There was good attendance by residents who heard about and saw successful examples of dam removal projects, presented by representatives from American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, and MA Riverways Program.

The general consensus by residents was that dam removal and stream restoration was a good option - there are more pros than cons - plus the burden of cost is taken off residents' shoulders through available mitigation funds and other funding sources.

In attendance at the meeting, the Chairman of the Sturbridge Conservation Commission stated he would send an e-mail to the Selectboard the next day, to set a date to facilitate discussions; however, to my knowledge that has not happened.

RECAP: The Massachusetts Office of Dam Safety requires that Phase I inspections are completed on the Upper and Middle Pond Dams, at a cost of $7,000-$8,000 EACH; reports are due by August and October 2009. These Orders were received in the Selectboard's office on May 3rd and are the first step in the process toward bringing the dams into conformance with Dam Safety Regulations.

The town does NOT have the option of allowing the dams to naturally disintegrate -the choices are: repair, or replace, and there are deadlines and costs involved; OR, approve the Department of Fish & Game's proposal to remove the dams and restore the stream at no cost to residents.

Residents have not been made aware of the costs and deadlines involved with keeping the dams in place. To date, there has been no movement on this issue by the Conservation Commission, Selectboard, or Finance Committee. The 62-62 split vote at town meeting indicates there IS support for dam removal. **The town WILL be expected to fund costs of all inspections, permitting, design, repair or replacement, and maintenance of the dams.**

Estimates to REPAIR these two dams currently range from $487,000 to $517,000. Estimates to REPLACE the dams go as high as $1.2 million, which does not include inspections, design, permitting or future maintenance.

Please respond to this e-mail: Can you join me in a Citizen's Forum on Monday, June 1st, 8:30 pm, at the Selectboard meeting at the Sturbridge Senior Center? We must ask the Selectboard to face this issue. The decision to keep or remove the dams is needed soon!
Carol Childress
774 248-0648

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm Hearing Voices Again

Like a scene from the movie "Field of Dreams" I have been hearing a tiny voice for some time now. "Go build a patio.", it says. I hear it coming through the living room window, in my sleep, or when I am in front of the sink shaving. Sounds a lot like Mary.

Originally we were going to go away for a bit in July, but we decided to stay home and become immersed in another project . Operation Patio is set for July. That "voice" was irresistible. I've been watching HGTV to gather some inspiration, but I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do in this little part of Fiskdale. Problem is, there are so many things I would like to incorporate into the project that I have to edit my ideas so it won't become one of those suburban backyard monstrosities.

Gonna be hard.

The Koi Pond is out, but a water feature would be nice. Maybe a large clay urn bubbling water over the top into a deep gravel filled hole with a recirculating pump? Hmmm. I like it. It's been done, but not done here. "Keep it simple.", the voice says.

A built in gas grill would be awesome, but just some room for a portable grill, and a fire pit will suffice. It's easy to go overboard. Self restraint is necessary in the design process. I have to work on that. Maybe a rock grotto with a hot tub... "Don't be a jackass", the voice whispers.

Planning just how the patio will blend into what we already have also takes a lot of thought. Can't be too outlandish, and have to design it so that it looks as though it has always been there. This is the kind of challenge I enjoy.

A patio is essentially an outside extension of ones home, without the walls and roof. A natural flow from the inside to the outside, and vice versa, should be part of the plan, and the design should be mindful of the architectural elements already in place at the home, and neighborhood.

Living here in Fiskdale, there are lots of older homes, and we live in one of them on our street, so designing something for modern day use, against something from yesterday will take some serious thinking. So, that automatically rules out concrete for the patio. Looks like stone is going to be the winner here. "Stone is good.", says the voice.


There are some wild grape vines on one end of the property. I don't know what variety they are, or if they are native, or the remnants of cultivated vines, but they are here, so maybe a pergola with grape vines would fit in. Wisteria would be nice, as well. The huge grape like clusters of purple flowers look great, but Wisteria is crazy. It will grow 18 inches in a day or two, and hook itself onto what ever is nearby.

Don't get into a good book while sitting under a Wisteria vine.

Maybe, if the Wisteria is far enough from the house, and is "trained" to only cover the pergola it will be fine. "No Wisteria.", the voice says firmly.

(shudder) I am going to have to think hard about the Wisteria.

Just a few things to think on for today while I move some large rocks into the perennial garden. I have to take the wheelbarrow for a ride in the truck since its tire is flat. Happened all of a sudden. Last time I filled that tire was in 2004.

I guess it's due. "Duh.", said the voice.

So, my plans are done. I did them right here, no paper required. Natural stone patio with a raised fire pit, a pergola, some plantings around the perimeter, all in a natural shape extending into the backyard. Sounds nice. A little guidance from "The Voice" was all it took.

Mary and I do a lot of things together, we enjoy that. Thank God she works out regularly, otherwise she may have a hard time getting this done before August.

Planning and inspiration is the hardest part of any project.

Now, Mary is hearing a voice from a movie, "The Water Boy".

"You can do it!".

"Sharing is fun.", said the voice.

Monday, May 25, 2009


This weekend is the unofficial start of summer. Cookouts, and family gatherings are how most will spend the day, but many will make the trip to a cemetery to decorate the grave of a loved one lost in war, and then return home to gather with family.

This is what Memorial Day is about. Memorializing those that gave their lives for their country, and for us.

Think about that for a moment.

Young men and women, barely out of high school, some not even out, joined the armed forces for a greater reason than just something to do. They knew the risk, but they also knew what they were about to fight for was worth far more than their own lives, and they freely gave those lives so that we may have ours.

These men and women have sacrificed themselves since our country was young, and today, they are still falling overseas. The reason is clear, and unchanged.

For those of us fortunate enough to be here today, gathering with family on a warm and sunny day, we need to realize that none of what we have around us would be the same if it were not for those that gave of themselves. They insured that what we had stayed that way, and would not be taken away, and that freedom would remain intact. This is their legacy.

Sometime during the course of the day, look around you at your family, and friends, and lift your up your drink, and whisper to the sky, "thank you".

The thanks are for their sacrifice. Remember, without them, none of what we have today would be here, and liberty would most certainly have been lost.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I Won't Grow Up

Milestones are important. Living here in Sturbridge I've hit a few of them. Earlier this month, I hit another, and the AARP just won't give up on me.

I really believe that age is a state of mind. We are the product of our environment at the age of two, and at an advanced age like the one I reached earlier this month.

When I hear stories of men not growing up, or acting like a kid, I can relate. Usually those stories are told by middle aged women with their faces are whizzled up in a knot, clutching their handbags across their chest, and impatiently tapping their toe on the floor. Not a sexist statement, just an observation.

I don't know why, but it is true. Yes, men may gain a great deal of grown up success, look good in a suit, and become a wonderful fixture in the community, but if you get a bunch of them together, show them something shiny, that runs by remote control, bounces, or blows up, they immediately untuck their shirts, and start frolicking in the dirt.

All it takes is the right trigger. ATV's, trucks, baseballs, Frisbees, fishing poles, model rockets, hunting season, classic cars, lawn tractors are all triggers. We shed the uniform of grown-up-hood, and immediately become the dirty, ten year olds with frogs and rocks in our pockets, and an intense urge to pull a pig-tail. Put an grown man on a lawn tractor, and he will be careful as all get out, but look away for just a second, and he will leave rubber on the driveway, and then give the classic "How'd That Happen" look.

I invented that look. Still use it. Even at work.

Our environment does regulate how old we act. If we hang with people our age, that are reading Modern Maturity, demanding their Senior discount in the line at the store, or thinking about taking the Blue Hair Express to see the foliage in the fall, we will start wearing our pants up around our nipple line, and "safe shoes".

It's a scientific fact. I'm a nurse, I know this stuff.

However, if we allow people younger than ourselves to take an active part in our lives, be it at home, or at work, our heads will stay young. That, too, is a scientific fact. We've all heard the expression, "They keep me young". It is true.

Mentally, there is no time I feel older than I did 35 years ago. Physically, I feel great. I do look as old as dirt as one of my young patients told me a few years ago, though.

With everything being relative, and the way I think and feel, I have approached this milestone, and handled it quite well.

I will not grow old, for the sake of it being the thing one must do. I will act and feel as I do at the moment, not as I should for a man my age. I don't like following "rules", especially when they come to getting older.

There is something positive to be said about Peter Pan Syndrome.

Lyrics | - I WON’T GROW UP lyrics

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Publick House Commits To A Sense Of Place

For complete story please click here.--ed.

Publick House Donation

Greetings all,

Once again, I wish to express my deep gratitude for the incredible level of attendance at Tuesday’s meeting. The feedback since then has been extremely upbeat and positive and there is a great sense of energy and enthusiasm. This is a tribute to each of you and your commitment to our community. I am pleased and humbled to be a part of this effort, and believe firmly in our mutual success.

To that end, I received a call from Mike Harrington from the Publick House as well as General Manager Mike Glick indicating that the Publick House is donating $500.00 to this effort that can be used to create some of the guest package materials that can be used for event purposes. As well, the Publick House is going to sponsor a community dinner event with proceeds going to the Sturbridge Revitalization Co-op, which again can be used for promotional materials.

This is certainly a most generous initiative on the part of the Publick House and clearly demonstrates their commitment to revitalizing our downtown “Sense of Place”, as well as their commitment to doing what is necessary to support our efforts to help our local small businesses survive and thrive. The survival of our shops in turn buttresses our restaurants, which shores up our lodges, hotels, and B&B’s, creating a great “Sense of Place” and a Destination location for Sturbridge.

Our heartfelt thanks to Mike Harrington and Mike Glick. As well, my deepest gratitude to each of you who have partnered with us on this journey forward.



Thomas R. Creamer

And, The Walls Came A-Tumblin' Down

It seems that recently I have re-visited somethings I have written about in the past. Not sure why exactly. Maybe its trying to tidy up, and finish something left undone.

I am going in that direction again today.

This time, it is a matter of public safety.

There is a house on Main Street in Fiskdale, beside the Blackington Building, that is abandoned, and not only an eyesore for the town, but a tinderbox. From the outside, it looks that a lot of work was being done on the house many years ago, but abruptly stopped. There is still construction material surrounding the property, ladders, and more. The shrubbery is of control, and what work was initially done on the property has been destroyed by the elements.

At one time the grand old house was a fine structure. Overlooking the Mill Pond on the Quinebaug River, it stood proudly for many, many years till it fell into disrepair. Now, I am only surmisin', but if there is a listed owner, and the property is uninhabitable, isn't there a way for the Town of Sturbridge demand that the property be brought up to code, or condemn it?

Of course there is. Just look what the Inspector is set to do with the abandoned properties over in Southbridge.

I also wonder that if this abandoned property is current with its taxes? Maybe it is, but given the extent of disrepair of the house, and land, I imagine it is not. If so, then the town should take the property, and either restore it, and sell the property for a profit, or tear it down.

Recently a home sat empty for a long time just to the left of the abandoned property sold, and the new owners have been working hard to rehab that old house. All their work would be lost if the other abandoned house fell on top of it, or worse. Or, the neglected property could fall the other way onto the little wooden building nestled beside the Blacking Building.

Either way, it would be a disaster.

This is a matter of public safety. The towns selectmen, Fire Department, and Building Inspector must address the issue today.

Not only is it an issue of public safety, but the building gives the entirely wrong impression to our visitors that come to Sturbridge through our "western gateway".

However, if the building continues to stand there, untouched over the summer, then it may be giving just the right impression.

Recently, there was a meeting to brainstorm ideas to enliven the downtown of Sturbridge. Hey! I have an idea, let's start by cleaning up what has been neglected for years.

If you feel the same, please forward this post to those in power that are able to do something. The Building Inspector would be a could start. Let's see how quickly the town responds. My bet is that the Selectmen will move quickly.

5th Season Of Sturbridge In Bloom


May begins the 5th season of Sturbridge in Bloom. This grass roots effort encourages businesses along Main Street to improve their appearance with a spring-cleaning and enhanced landscaping. The goal is to create a charming and welcoming townscape with an abundance of flowers. A clean, appealing Main Street attracts visitors and improves the quality of life for all.

In September, the businesses selected for having created a visually pleasing environment will be declared winners. The rewards will be recognition, enhanced civic pride and the appreciation of local residents. The Town of Sturbridge will be the big winner as a result of the Sturbridge in Bloom competition.

CONTACT: Peg O’Connor 508 347-9655

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Traffic Cameras At Exit 9!! It's About Time!

With holiday ahead, Pike announces traffic info upgrade - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis

Riverland Clean Up May 30th


The Community Preservation Committee is planning a Clean Up day Morning for the Riverland. This property, which runs from 51/55 Holland Road to Stallion Hill Road and runs along the south side of the Quinebaug River, needs clean up of debris, including tires, furniture, and houseware dumpings.

We will meet Light Rain or Shine on Saturday, May 30th at 9:00am, in the Old Sturbridge Village parking lot closest to Stallion Hill Road.

If you join us, we recommend that you wear gloves. We will load pick up trucks with the debris, which will then be hauled to the Recycle Center.

Please forward this on to your respective boards/committees and anyone else who may wish to lend a hand.

Thank you for considering,

Penny Dumas
Community Preservation Committee Chair

Ideas Wanted

In a little over a years time from now the Town Hall, and Center School project will be complete, and Route 131 that runs right out front of the two structures should be totally redone with new brick sidewalks around the common, and sidewalks extending all the way to the Sturbridge town line.

This is going to look swell!

The projects will accomplish several things. One, the old Town Hall is totally rehabbed into a fine place in which to conduct the towns business, and the long vacant Center School gets a new life as additional municipal offices. To top it off, the road that separates the two buildings is getting a complete makeover. the road bed will be taken down, a new one applied, new brick sidewalks around the Common, and a safe place to walk all the way to Southbridge will be installed.

It took a few years to get all these ducks in a row, but the end is nigh, and Sturbridge will be far better off with the completion of these projects. Civic pride is something not heard as much nowadays as it was 50 years ago, but it is essential to maintaining what we have, and growing in the direction we want.

After these projects are completed the expansion of the Burgess Elementary School will be completed, as well. More recently, the ball fields behind the DPW were completely rehabbed into prime playing fields.

All in all, I know we are headed in the right direction.

I wonder when all these current projects are completed what will be next for the town?

Well, of course there is the water treatment facility. That will be a something the town can be proud of as well, but what about the Recycling Center, and the old dump? Will the old dump be properly covered? Will the Town harness the methane beneath it? How great would that be!?

Will the "parking crisis" be solved? How about a new, safe boat ramp for Cedar Lake? Traffic lights at Arnold and Main, New Boston and Route 20, Hall Road, and Main, and at the other end at Route 20? Will Route 20 between Route 131 and Route 148 be re-designed, and rebuilt?

Lots of questions. Lots of potential projects, too. I'd be interested in hearing from you as to what you would consider something that would make an improvement here in town. I am sure many of you have had something in mind for years, or just thought of something recently that could use improvement, or something totally new.

Leave your ideas in the comment section, and let's see if any are worth to garner the attention of those in the Town Hall.

Don't be afraid to be as "out there" as you want to be with your ideas. After all, that is how things get done. Aim high.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Kindom For A Parking Space

Seems that the parking problem here in town has come to a bit of a head. The Dance Motion Studio on Main Street has been sharing its leased lot from the Town with Rovezzi's Restaurant next door until recently. Apparently there was a monetary deal that was made between the two parties for the restaurants use of the parking lot, and since the money was slow in coming, the dance studio posted signs baring anyone other than their customers from parking in the Town owned lot.

More information is needed. A look at the agreement between the two parties would be a start, but also a close look a the lease of the building to Mass Motion. Is the parking lot included in the lease? Do they have the right to sublet it, or share it for a fee?

Parking is a problem in town, and recently it was noted at the Board of Selectman's meeting that at this time we should be "massaging" local businesses, not forcing them to close their doors.

I agree.

At the meeting the selectmen also commented on their search for space in town for more public parking. I wrote on this subject before, but for those that missed it, I will repeat myself here. Look at the lot beside the former French Bakery on Main Street. The land is for sale, and unless they are asking far too much, it would be an ideal spot. Parking could be made on the south side of Route 20 opposite the Blackington Building, and down past Church Street. It would take some leveling of the land, but sure beats what is there now.

For any municipality, parking is always an issue. If the town can think far enough into the future, it can anticipate the issue and plan for it adequately. Sometimes, things just sneak up on you, and you have to think quick, and hard, to solve the problem.

We're in the latter group.

The Town should step in to the problem issue between the two businesses. After all, they do own the lot, and the towns intention is to grow business, not hinder them. There will be times when the two businesses may conflict with their schedules, but those would be rare, and could be worked out.

In the meantime, we need more parking here in town, and we only have a limited amount of land in which to place it, or find it. Time for pussy-footin' is over, it's time do do something. Make some strong offers to landowners, sweeten the pot a bit, if you must, but "git 'er done".

Be creative.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Grid Talk

Back in January I wrote about the Town of Sturbridge doing a little "out of the box" thinking to deal with these tight economic times. Two of the ideas that I had were harvesting wind energy from atop one of the mountains here in town, and hydroelectric power form the Quinebaug River. This week I read about a gentleman that would like to set up a solar power site here in town near the MassPike.


All that is needed are some basic permits from the town, and a deal worked out between the current land owner, and construction would begin. This is, as I frequently like to say, a no-brainer. A passive thing, tucked away in the woods that doesn't move, make noise, or generate emissions. What it does do is collect the suns rays and convert it to electrical energy, and send it along into electrical grid. The Solar Company makes money selling the power, the land owner makes a buck, and the Town makes some money as well.

Win, win, win. The Green Triple Crown!

I hope that all goes smoothly for those concerned. The solar array would be visible from the Pike, and would generate a lot of water cooler talk.

This is not only a different direction, but a whole different angle, too. This will definitely wash away some of those carbon footprints out there.

I would also like someone to do some serious thinking about wind energy, too. If not a private company, then why not the Town of Sturbridge? Kinda bold, eh? Yeah, but that is what has always built this country: bold thinking, and bold actions. Back before "thinking outside the " was even in the lexicon. And, why wouldn't Sturbridge look into harnessing the wind? Many communities had their own power companies years ago, and some still do here in Central Mass.

"Approximately 45 communities in Massachusetts receive distribution services from separate municipal electric utilities. View a map of distribution company and municipal service territories in Massachusetts.

Municipally-Owned Utilities

Municipally-owned utilities are owned and operated by the individual towns and cities they serve. These utilities are responsible for customer billing, wire, pole, and meter maintenance, connecting new customers, distribution of electricity, and restoring power after an outage.

Across the U.S., over 2,200 utilities are municipally owned. The Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWE) is a non-profit corporation that was formed to help municipal utilities offer electricity services at a rate competitive with investor-owned utilities"


This is something that would not only be extremely beneficial for the Town of Sturbridge, but for those living outside the community as well. Imagine this town generating enough electricity to power the schools, the municipal buildings, and additional street lights, and maybe make a dollar, or so as well.

Would take a bold individual. Someone with vision, and with a thick skin to get a project like this off the ground and operating, but the benefits would be so worth it.

Think on it. If that town that was blown away in Kansas from a tornado can commit to coming back stronger than ever, and green to boot, we could do something like that as well, especially since we have all of our infrastructure still in place.

Being free from the grid sounds kinda nice. Imagine feeding it, instead of relying on it to feed us.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Our Little Slice Of Heaven

This old house that we own is 151 years old this year. Doesn't look it from the outside, or from the inside for that matter. A couple owned the home for over 60 years until they passed. It was then bought by a man that only lived in it for a short time, and then rented it out after buying another home out of town.

For an old house it has had many upgrades over time. The floor plan is not what it was in 1858. After some exploring in the nooks and crannies after we bought it, I have found the many of the newer parts, and the older parts, but still I am unable to make sense of the original configuration. I have a neighbor that lives across the street, Beverly, and she is in her 80's and she told me a few things about this old house on Brookfield Road. First of all, she lived on the second floor with her parents when she was very young. It was a second floor apartment then, and her parents worked for the family that owned the house. Where the current garage is now was a general store. She also told me that the neighborhood men would gather in the back room of the store on Sundays and "drink" themselves silly.

This may explain all the old bottles that turn up on the edge of the yard after every rain. I have found all sorts of bottles on the edge of the property before it slopes down into the stream. I've thrown buckets of broken glass away over the last three years, and I've found all sorts of old cans, and other remnants of days gone by. It was common practice back then to heave your trash onto a place in the yard that could be buried. No trash pickup back then. Other trash was usually burned in an incinerator at the house, or in a barrel in the yard.

After the general store closed, it moved across the street into the what is now the front of an other neighbors home.

Lots of changes over the last 80 years, or so, here on Brookfield Road.

Besides the bottles, the couple that owned the house most of the last century did leave a prettier legacy. There is a tall, mature flowering crab apple tree on the side of the house, a pear tree, and a peach tree. A white flowering Dogwood shades the edge of the side lawn. Many of the shrubs they planted years, and years ago have grown into trees, and required extensive cutting back and pruning when we moved in. The perennials had all been infested with weeds, the lilac bush was in bad need of a pruning which Mary took care of with the skill of an arborist. All the trees and shrubs had been neglected for many years, and had grown into a tangled woodland with vines growing up along side of all the trees.

It was a mess.

Over the past three years we have tried to bring it back. It is obvious that the property was loved by those that owned it before us, and if we could bring back some of what they had planted it would be great. We managed to do that, and to save much of what was neglected. A total f 30 pickup truck loads of debris were moved out of the yard from weeds, to brush. We fed and reseeded the lawn, and it has shown its appreciation by thickening up and staying green most of the season. We planted perennials, a Japanese Maple, and a flowering Cherry tree as well. We also reclaimed the shrubs in front of the house.

This past weekend we drove over to Lamoreuxs Nursery in Brookfield and picked up our yearly collection of hanging plants for the back of the house, and also purchased two Rugosa Rose bushes (Cape Cod roses) for the corner of the front yard. The hanging flowers for the front will come soon as well.

It's a process, and one that we enjoy. I try to keep in mind that although we are doing this for us, and in a way also paying some homage to those that have come before us, that we are merely the caretakers of this little spit of land in Fiskdale. There will be others that will come after us. What we do here now, will in a way, be our legacy for years to come.

Spring time is a great time of year for these reasons. Readying the yard for summer enjoyment, and setting the stage for a yearly unveiling of color.

It is nice to watch your little slice of heaven reveal itself to you each year, and the additions you have planted have a way of rooting you deeper to your land.

It's now the middle of May, and soon we will be out there sticking the annuals in the ground. Each year we try to do something a bit different along the front walkway, and this year we will think hard as we explore the flats of flowers at the local nurseries.

I am always open to suggestions.

With the repair of the sun porch now complete, which was last years project, we are now planning the Big Project for the Summer of 2009. I am leaning toward building a walkway, and patio, and building the well needed shed next year. Maybe a pergola over a portion of the patio. I build things in my head first, and seldom put them on paper, which at times has given a Dr. Seuss flavor to what I've built, but I have gotten better. However, maybe a sense of Whoville would be kinda fun in the backyard.

If you see me sitting on a suitcase in my front yard, then you will know that Mary did not share in the same vision.

No matter where you live here in town, your land, or home has a history. Explore that history. Check out the old photos of homes at the library, and the extensive histories about the land here in town. If your house is newer, your land has always been here. It's fun to find out what had been there before. You can contact the Historical Society for any specific help as well, Bob Briere is always willing to share his knowledge, and set you in the right direction for more research.

I am off today, no work till tomorrow. The grass is still covered with dew, so the mower will have to wait till the later today for its run along the lawn. In the meantime, I will do some thinking on that walkway, and patio. I may even use some paper to lay it all out. If you know where I can get a large quantity of large, flat stones on the cheap, let me know.

There's just something about going to a stone yard, and paying a premium for rocks that brings out the frugality in me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Every year at this time every parent of a new graduate, or the guest speaker at a graduation, tries to come up with a new, unique way of saying what they were told when they graduated. Something profound. Something stirring. Something to carry with them for the rest of their lives. Sometimes the words are right on target, and will last generations such as the "Graduation Song" of a few years ago, or the song, "Dance".

A guest speaker has an easier task, they can speak in a general sense, and give advice for the many. A parent has a much tougher job. What can they offer to their child that they haven't already said earlier on?

It's a puzzlement.

Often times the words that we share with a young, new graduate sound only like words to them, and their meaning is not heard. Pleasant words, in soft sounding sentences marked with what one should do, and not do are what we eventually share. We take those words from our life's experience in hopes they will make it easier for those embarking on their own road. We hope to save them some trouble along the way.

The more I have thought about just what to share with my graduate this year, the more I was troubled as to just what to say. One cannot just let an important event like this go by without some words of advice. The obvious always goes unsaid, but it is always good to say it aloud, too. Things like, "I am proud of you" is a definite. "Well done", can't be stressed enough. "This is only the beginning" is a classic, obvious remark, but what words can put all we want for them in the present, and in the future, into a small enough package that will stay with them, and guide them well?

The more I thought about it, the more I thought about what had guided me, and not so much what I have learned since that time. The words that I found that truly meant something were words I had known all my life, but their meaning had been a bit blurry much of the time, until I got to know them.

I don't want to sound all knowing, or like some "Oprah-esque" sage on Route 148, or even Dr. Phil like. This is just me.

The first word of advice I want to give my graduate is: Live.

Pretty simple really, you're already doing it, but living is more than breathing, eating a meal, going to work, coming home, and going out on the weekend. Living is waking before dawn on a Saturday, driving to Vermont, and taking a hot air balloon ride to nowhere, and take in the morning sun as it lights up the fog along the fields and church steeples. Living is taking a risk. Going for a job in another part of the country, far from where you are comfortable, and learning a whole new culture. That is living. Taking care of yourself is the foundation of living. If you want to continue to live, then it's simple, take care of yourself.

Respect is the second word.

First, one must respect oneself. If not, then it is hard to respect another. Start at home first. Be true to yourself, trust your decisions, and then you can begin to respect others. Respect who they are, what they believe in, where they are from, and what they do. You can always disagree with everything about a person, but disagree, and debate respectfully.

Love comes next. Without it, nothing else is going to fall into place. You have to love yourself in order to live, and to respect yourself. Love others as you would want to be loved, and have special loves for special times, events, and people. Love what you do, or find something else, otherwise you won't respect yourself, and you won't be able to live to the fullest.

See where this is all going?

They are all connected. One does not exist without the other. An imbalance occurs, and life is like a ceiling fan out of kilter. The years will progress, but you as a person will be stuck, or barely moving.

Trust is another word that must be stressed. When you are out there living to the fullest, and loving what you do, and respecting those around you, you must trust your instincts when you feel it is time to grow more, and just do it. You must also give your trust to those you hold close unconditionally. You can only take take that trust away if they return it to you worn and beaten. Then take it back, and respect yourself.

Faith. Have faith that you will achieve your goals. Have faith in your ideas, and that what you do will make a difference. Have faith in something larger than yourself, and rely on that faith to guide you. The more love, respect, and trust you show, the more your faith is at work.

And, finally, inspiration. Inspire others through who you are, and what you do, how you do it, and how you live. Look to other places and people for things that inspire you. Don't let your head go slack, feed it all the time with things that will inspire you to grow.

Those words, live, respect, love, trust, faith and inspiration will get you through all the growing pains you will have over an entire lifetime. There will be times that you will find it tough going because you have backed off on those words. Don't worry, they are always there, find them again, and move on. That is the one thing I can tell you from experience. No matter how well intentioned we are, we all hit bumps along the way, and the more we ignore the words, the longer we will be trying to get back on track with only one or two good wheels. Takes longer, the results are not the same, and we will become less happy about most everything.

Don't forget happiness. It is the word that you want everything else to lead to. Without it, you don't really have anything. That is your goal, for each day you are given, for the rest of your life, just be happy.

Happy life, my Graduate. Happy life.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Fleas Are Coming!

This upcoming week, May 12th through the 17th, should be an interesting one around these parts. Its time for the Brimfield Antique Show, better known as the Brimfield Flea Market. Held three times a summer over in Brimfield, it is the worlds largest antique show, and the crowds and the traffic can be a bit off the chart.

But, wait... there is a Mega Recession going on, will there be anyone out there to buy anything?

Oh, sure, there will be the typical "before the market opens" bargaining going on between dealers, but will the public show up, and more importantly, will they show up with money?

I think they will, but not as much money as they would have brought in years past. The Brimfield Flea Market has weathered other financial storms in the years since 1959 when it started, and it will weather this one as well. It is the individual dealers that will be hard pressed this year.

If a good return is not had during the first of three fairs this year, some of the dealers may just not travel the distance for the next one, and that will affect the businesses outside of the Flea Market grounds. The hotels, motels, and bed & breakfast's in the area could take a hit by summers end, as well as the local restaurants.

But, I have faith.

People attend the antique show for different reasons. Some are searching for that special something for their living room, or den, or that one thing to add to their spoon collection. Others, are more of a "just looking" type, and if something appeals to them, they will buy it on impulse if the price is right. I could do that all day, but often times, the price is just not right.

The show is fascinating for anyone to browse through. It is also very large, covering several open fields along Route 20 for well over a mile on both sides. Many dealers have very unique items, many have a lot of the same. Prices do vary for similar things, but are often set in stone for the rare item. Everything from antique furniture and toys, to antique clothing, architectural elements for the home (need a gargoyle from an old NYC building?) to military items, automobile parts, old books, and maps, political memorabilia, paintings, old photographs, carousel horses, and cigar store Indians. The list is almost endless. Anything you have ever seen in the past is here, along with things you had no idea ever existed.

This is what makes the browsing fun. Finding things that are not only old, but bizarre, and if they can fit into your decor, or complete a collection, then you've struck gold!

We try to get to the show at least once each season, and this year will be no different. I am looking for something totally different this year to fill a little nook here at the house, and I am sure I will find it. A plum colored Tiffany floor lamp, with a gargoyle mounted on it, maybe some old Pontiac emblems on the shade, you know, something pretty.

No matter how rare, or bizarre, I am sure you can find it in Brimfield this summer, and if you come across any real great finds like freeze dried gerbil bookends, an antique secretary (no, not Miss Smithers), or a draft of "Wuthering Heights", please let me know. I'd like to see if it could beat my Raisins From Around the World Collection.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Prom Night On The Common

It's Prom night!

We just rode by the Common, and it is filled with young men and women in their prom gear. Tuxes, gowns, new shoes, sneakers, and flowers, lots of flowers!

The parents all had their cameras out, arranging their sons and daughters against the flowery backdrop of the Joshua Hyde Library, and on the bandstand. Limos lines Main Street, and more photo op's were there beside the humongous Hummers rented for the night.

I don't have to tell you how special Prom Night is. It is a night to be remembered for the rest of their lives. Dinner, dancing, the limo ride to and from, and especially the date.

Be safe, and cherish the good memories you will make tonight.

Make it a goal to share these memories with your children someday.

National Nurses Week May 6 - 13th

Yesterday, after work, I was beat. Dead tired. I got out of bed at 4:00 in the morning, grabbed some coffee, tormented the cats, showered and was out the door by 4:45. I stopped for more coffee at Dunkin's, and then on to Boston for a twelve hour shift. I rolled back home at 8:30 that evening.

This is unusual for me. I usually work the off shift, but for a few weeks I am working while the sun shines in order to get some experience with things that we never do in the moonlight. It has been a very good experience thus far. I've learned a great deal, but although I have always known that the the work during the day was a lot more frantic, busy, and discombobulated, I never realized just how much until now.

I worked my tail off.

Now, I am not complaining. I am acknowledging.

The environment I work in is kept purposely hot, greater than 85 degrees, and the humidity percentage is high as well, usually about 5 points below whatever temperature it is. If is 85 degrees, then it is about 80% humidity. In addition, I wear a plastic gown, or a long sleeve heavy paper gown, a paper hat, and gloves. Same as at night, but during the day, the ability to pace oneself is a survival tactic learned early on. At night, pacing comes somewhat easier, but since there are so many hands in the mix during the day, one has to allow, and account for everyone of them.

Intensive Care Nursing is like that. Pacing, planning for the unexpected, anticipating the patients, and the physicians needs, and in my particular case, learning, and then rolling it all together to make one smooth, 12 hour package of good and effective nursing is something that comes with time. At night, I am quite good at what I do, during the day, well, let's say, I will be better.

Working in an environment that is a bit warmer than usual guarantees that one will dry up in a very short time. One will loose liters of fluid over twelve hours. Fluid replacement is a must. Yesterday, I drank many cups of OJ, and ice water. Many, but it wasn't enough apparently. When I came home, I greeted Mary as I walked through the door, felt kinda weak, and a bit dizzy, and then laid out on the couch to watch some TV with her before showering. That was about 8:40 PM. The next time I looked at the clock it was 12:30 AM, and I was still on the couch, Mary had covered me with a fleece blanket, and gone off to bed.

I am not sure if I fell asleep because I was beat, or I just passed out. I do know that when I woke up at 12:30 I felt like heck, and promptly sucked down two huge glasses of cranberry juice. After a short time, I felt much better, and this morning I flooded myself with juice and water.

Today, I feel restored.

I should know better. I have always gone overboard with the fluid intake while working outside, and have felt the effects if I didn't. This time I thought I was on top of it, and I wasn't. It was no hotter at work than usual, but a whole lot busier.

All in a "days" work.

I am constantly learning something new, about my work, and about me, and this week has been no different. Makes going to work worthwhile. I am far from being stuck in a rut, and one can do that fairly easy in any career, including nursing.

I am glad I chose nursing as my career. Every job has ups, and downs, little issues to overcome, and this one is no different. Satisfaction is built in. And, as far as those little bumps in the road along the way, such as yesterday, well, they were nothing that a six-pack of Poland Springs couldn't fix.

Next week, I'll bring some Gatorade along. See, after thirty-one years, I'm still learning.

Nurses are like that.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Simple Pleasure

An overcast, cool day for the third of May. I was staring out into the back yard this morning and thinking about all sorts of things. One thing that struck me was this is May, and in little over three weeks it will be June.


I am not trying to rush the season, but June 1st is close, and the deadline I set for myself to raise enough money for a picnic table or two for the Town Common is approaching.

I've collected $110.00. That just won't cut it.

Now, this blog isn't one of those overnight sensations. I don't get 1000 hits a day. I've received 18, 257 hits on this space since June of 2008. Not too shabby. That comes out to about 60 per day. For a little bit of nonsense on the internet rambling on about Sturbridge, and other things in my life, I think it is fine.

But, here is the rub. Over the past two and half years I have received countless emails and comments from folks here in town about how much they love this town, and all sorts of ideas on how to improve it, and to maintain what we have been given. We are lucky to have so many willing to share their ideas, and to express their love for the place they live, but right now, I wish I had a dollar for every comment received, and email I've read.

Am I whining? Sorry. Don't mean to. It is just that my level of expectation was maybe set too high. I aimed high hoping that if I received half of my goal it would be a good thing, not the best, but still a good thing.

Maybe that is the root of the problem. Setting ones goals too high. I have always done that in order to get at least half way there, and many times I've actually surpassed my goal. This time however, I feel I may have overshot by a mile.

Now, I don't believe that Sturbridge residents are not of the giving kind. They have proved the opposite time and time again. Case in point, the REAS Foundation. OK, I know that is for something well beyond a picnic table or two, and I agree, but the action is there. Sturbridge residents do give.

I received an email about the sanctity of the Town Common, and to place a picnic table on the grass on this hallowed field would be a disgrace. Well, they were there long before I came along, problem is, they just plain got up and left.

I do agree that the Town Common is an historic and cherished place. The ancient homes that surround the green speak volumes to those that are willing to listen, but this place is not just meant to stand and stare at, or maybe walk through quickly. This place can be best enjoyed when enjoying an event on the Common such as the Harvest Festival, a band concert, an auction, flipping the Frisbee to the kids, or just enjoying a sandwich in the shade of one of the old maples.

When one takes some time to actually look about, and think about the history underfoot, one is better able to understand the importance of it all. Notice I said "look", and not glance. Glancing is what we do from our car as we drive by.

"Ah, pretty.", and that's it.

This green place in the center of our town has seen militia train during the Revolutionary War, the return of General Lafayette, volunteers drill during the Civil War, and troops train during World War II. It has been a place of Agricultural exhibits, and fairs, weddings, and candle light services. It a place that is best understood when one becomes a part of it, if only for a little while. It is a place to be enjoyed.

So how the heck does a picnic table help accomplish that? Well, it takes the visitor and brings them in closer. It allows the visitor to actually be part of the Common for a little while, as opposed to walking through, or staring at it from the car.

It is , in short, just a simple pleasure. We need more simple pleasures in our life. This collection for Tables on the Common is but one way to bring a simple pleasure home to us.

Please use the widget at the top of the page to give what you can, it is secure, or you can send it anonymously to me at 60 Brookfield Road.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

1918? I Don't Think So

Over reacting?

I am not quite sure, but it sure seems that way.

I am writing this as a private person, not as a health care professional, so please don't email me telling me I should know better, or saying that as a health person I should speak only the party line.

I am just responding to what I see, read, and watch on TV.

The H1N1 Influenza, otherwise known as the "Swine Flu", seems to be getting more than its share of news coverage. With approximately 160 cases in the US, and one death within our borders of a 23 month old Mexican national that came to Texas for treatment, we seem to be spending a whole lot of time and money on something that is far from being a pandemic at this time. Potentially serious? Yes, but at the moment it doesn't look quite that way

I've watched the news for the past two weeks, more than enough time for the incubation period of the virus to take off and give us greater numbers, but that hasn't happened. Not to say that later in the year it won't happen during traditional flu season, but right now, in the first week of May, there are no real signs of a pandemic.

Is the virus a bad virus? Well, it seems that the virus south of the Rio Grande has taken over 150 lives, compared to the one life to the north. I don't know why the virus would be more virulent in Mexico than here, but the numbers indicate that that is true.

Same virus, different countries, different outcomes. Something just isn't right. If the CDC is getting yantzy, then they know something they have yet to share with us because the numbers just don't support the alarm the networks are spreading.

The annual flu kills 36,000 Americans every year. Now, that is a number worth remembering, but other than reminders on the tube to get our flu shots, and small segments on the Today Show about using Purell, and other hand washing techniques, we are pretty silent about it all.

The Annual Flu does not seem to rate the daily tallies of the number of sick. No listing of the number that have succumbed. Nothing more than reports of low amounts of flu vaccine available, or what strains are involved in this years mix.

The reporting of the Swine Flu has exceeded the reporting of the "Annual 36,000 Dead Flu" by a long shot, and I have been wondering why.

Well, what has the news been focused on for the last eight months? Every day at noon, 6:00 PM, and at 11:00 at night the lead story has been_______?

Right. The economy.

Enough about the economy. Give us something else to report on other than money, Iraq, Afghanistan. Give us wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, serial killers, or maybe a killer virus.

Yeah, a virus would be nice. Involves people, and animals, government, and medicine, and a virus that is targeting more of the age group in our target audience would be really nice. Maybe, the teens to thirties age group.


Believe me when I say I am not being cynical. I am only writing what I see, and after a few weeks of "seeing", it is time to speak up.

Now, as I said, because not much is happening right now doesn't mean that come flu season it won't go completely ballistic and raise havoc. It very well could after lying low for a few months. By that time a vaccine will be developed, and hopefully there will be only few severe cases reported, and we get a handle on it.

New viruses always are a cause for concern. We have no immunity to them, so for those that have low immune systems, the very young, the elderly, the infirm the flu is something to avoid.

So what do we make of all this hubbub about this virus. Not really sure, but listen to the numbers reported by the CDC, and watch for spikes in those numbers, and more fatalities. Also, if you are ill, or someone in your family is ill, keep them home !! No school, no work. Close them in their rooms if you have to, and no visitors. Quarantine them. Push fluids on them, make sure they get lots of rest, but do not allow whatever they have to spread. This is true of any virus, but more so now.

Stock up on antiseptic hand washing liquid, Kleenex, Gatorade, juice, and whatever you usually take to get rid of your aches and pains, and use them as you need to. And, don't expose yourself to large crowds, either. No sense in tempting fate.

I may be completely off base on this, but I don't believe I am. Use your heads, pay attention to the CDC, and stock up on the Lysol, and Purell.

Let's hope that this is only network news over reaction, and also hope they find something brighter to report on every evening.