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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Moving From Questionable To Confirmed

There are times when I thank God that the Shaw's Market, or Wal*Mart, doesn't have an x-ray security device as you walk in the door.  There are some things I would like to hide, and keep to myself.

It is normal to keep our foibles hidden from the rest of the world.  That is human nature.  What is also human nature is to occasionally let the cat out of the bag.

We can show the world what we strive so hard to keep under wraps by just opening our mouths,  writing some poorly thought out words, or, even more dramatically, walking into a glass door.

That is also pretty funny.

Sorry.  It is though.

Now, the key word here is "occasionally".  When we do it more often than that we move from the "questionable" column to the "confirmed" column.

My preference?  Keep 'em guessing.  Sometimes it works.

Then there are those that remove any doubt.  No need for an x-ray security device here.  No.  Just listen. Or, read what they write.

The good thing about those that "lift the sheets" so to speak, is that by exposing their inner "workings" we get to know them better, and are better off in dealing with them.   Helps you make more informed decisions later on.  Sometimes those decisions are made before you get to the alter, or even more importantly, at the polls.

Keep that mind when you hear of someone in a position of responsibility saying, writing, or doing something that you may have thought twice about before doing, or saying yourself.

Oh, and that x-ray above?  It's mine.  Somethings I don't mind sharing.

At least you know what you're dealing with.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's OK To Speak With Your Hands

Using ones hands to perform a task is something most of us do without thinking about it.  As a nurse, my hands not only perform tasks, my hands also communicate.

How I touch, hold a hand, support a limb signals to the other person whether I am a threat, whether something will hurt more than usual, and if I am being careful.  Touch also conveys reassurance, confidence, knowledge, caring, and hope.  If I loose focus, that loss is felt at the other end of my fingertips by the person I am touching almost immediately.

Touch is that sensitive.

Often, I will scratch child's head at work with my fingers as I walk by them in the hall.  That touch speaks to them.  When talking to a parent about their child, I will often reach out and touch their forearm, or shoulder, when our conversation is done.  That small touch, my words, and our eye contact can do a great deal in reassuring them..

When done right, touch is important symptom of our human condition.

Touch can also be misinterpreted as countless office law suits will tell you.  When done at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, to the wrong person, touch can elicit negative feelings as strong as the positive ones. Inappropriate touching is not good, and one has to keep the "Laws of Boundaries" in mind at all time.

For something so simple, touch is very powerful.

Last week I was pleasantly surprised to see a news report on Channel 5 about just how powerful touch can be.  You may want to check out the video yourself on You Tube.  (Click here for video)

We say so much through our hands, and touch is something understood no matter what language you speak. As the video shows, touch is understood even by those that know longer understand things in the world around them.  It is primal, and basic, and we should be more aware of its power, not ignoring it.

If done for the right reasons, wonderful things can be done through touch.  The video is proof of that.

Amazing what it can do.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Take The Other Road

Utely Road in New Braintree just off Route 67.
Click for larger image.

Sometimes I am guilty of the "it's-all-about-me" behavior.  Something I really don't like at all.  One would think Sturbridge was the only place on Earth worth writing about, visiting, living in, or dining in.

I have to take the blinders off once in a while to see beyond the tip of my nose, which doesn't make any sense at all, but I think you get my point.

There is a world outside our borders.

I am not referring to Paris, or Ankar Wat, I am talking about places like New Braintree, and Barre.  Local treasures.

Mary and I like to take off and go on "explores" to local places we have never seen.  Our horizons not only get widened, but awakened as well.

Yesterday we took off north on Route 148 to North Brookfield.  No reason, but we seem to concentrate on the other directions a lot more, and seldom go north more than a few miles.  Friday was "Go North Day", and we did.

Just past North Brookfield center we bared left onto Route 67 for a bit.  The foliage was still working its way to peak, but in some patches it was glorious.  The sun was bright, the top down, and we were cruisin' through early Fall in Central Mass.

I didn't bring my camera with me.  Big mistake, and something I don't usually leave behind, but this was a spur of the moment escape, and the camera in the iPhone would have to do.  The photo above does not do the scenery we saw justice.

This weekend will probably be the the last warm weekend of the year, so don't waste it.  There will be time for chores later, but somewhere in the weekend take a couple of hours, and head north, and open your eyes.  You will discover farm stands, and red leaves, apple orchards brimming with people picking, and waiting in line for a bag of apple cider donuts.  Go down that road you have never traveled.  You know the one, "The Road Not Taken".  You will be surprised how many of the weeks stresses fly out  the car window at 40 MPH.

The view above was taken just off Route 67.  Take a left onto Utely Road, enjoy the view, and then follow the road back home.

And, don't forget your camera.

Down Utely Road a bit from Route 67 on right.

View Larger Map

Friday, September 24, 2010

Autumn: That Peaceful, Easy Feeling

Fall along the shore of  Long Pond in Fiskdale.
Autumn.   Officially it's here, although it has been slowly ramping up for weeks and weeks.  I saw my first red leaves of the season in Weston, along the turnpike, on August 3rd.  Since then I have been that much more aware of its slow unveiling.  When one is aware of the seasonal changes around them actually occurring, the colors, smells, and sounds are enjoyed that much more.

I have been on the other side when November 12th rolled around, and I stopped and looked around me at the bare trees, grey skies, and cold air, and wondered what the heck happened, and where was I when it did.

No more.  I gave up all that distraction years, and years ago.  Now, I am very in tune to the changes, and enjoy each one as if I am turning pages in a really good book.

Usually, I won't buy mums until Fall is here, but this year I felt that the color was missing in the yard, and I splurged a bit early.  I'll take down the Summer wreath from the front door today.  In  a few weeks, after the first frost, I'll remove the annuals, cut back the perennials, and begin cleaning up around the yard.  While I am putzin' about outside I will be planning our next adventure inside the house.  I like to do inside projects in the Fall and Winter, but this year I was sidetracked, and refurbished the kitchen in July and August, and rebuilt the bathroom floor, as well.  It felt strangely out of season.

As we spend more time on this planet, we find ourselves developing more, and more routines like those I perform each Fall.  Routines can be  comfortable, familiar acts that give us solace when we are performing them.  This is how closing one season in the yard, and preparing for the next one affects a lot of us, it's comfortable.   Such simple rituals, but they bring on that wonderful peaceful, easy feeling.

In the late Winter, very early Spring, I react differently to the changes about me; I get a yearning, and excitement for all things green, bright, and warm.  In the fall, it is the winding down from all that, and time to put away, rest, and renew.  

It is very much a peaceful, easy feeling.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's Time To Get Back To Basics

A little to the west of us, in Brimfield, there is a bit of a furor going on concerning the placement of wind turbines on West Mountain.  Seems that some folks in Brimfield feel that ten huge 262 foot tall wind turbines and their 253 foot in diameter turbine blades would a bit much to look at.  The money offered, some feel, is not worth the loss of scenery.

I am all for alternative forms of obtaining energy.  Wind, solar, tidal, geothermal should all be utilized, but with a couple of provisos, one would be that the method selected to obtain the energy in a locality should be primarily used in that locality at a discount, and what energy is left over can then be sold onto the grid.  Just seems logical that if local residents change their zoning that they should receive something in return.  Some companies agree to pay the local government an annual stipend.  This is what the company would like to do in Brimfield, too.  $140,000 to $170,000 would be paid to the town each year.  Well, if you figure on $150,000 for the 3028 folks in Brimfield that comes out to about $50.00 per resident each year.

Big whoop.

What would be better would be a significantly reduced rate per Kilowatt hour of electricity for local residents of Brimfield.  Significantly reduced.  Now, that may be easier to swallow.

Another proviso would be that any structure that would be needed to obtain the energy must blend in with the rest of the topography, and not take away from the scenery an area may be known for.  This is solely for the benefit of those living in the town, and live there because of the beauty of the area, however it is probably the most difficult to do.

As I mentioned, I am all for alternative energy, but just because something is "alternative" doesn't always make it right, or a good match for an area.  Lots of thought, and planning, must be done in order to make the structures blend in with minimal disruption to the eye.  It can be done.

When we get our underwear all balled up in a knot here in town about sidewalks, intersections, extending sewer service, and Astro Turf on the ball fields we need to just take a moment and think of the issues other towns are facing, and how they deal with the issues.  Watch them, and see how they handle disagreements.  Do they put issues to a vote?  Do they negotiate well with vendors, and agencies?  Is a compromise part of their plan?

This past Monday evening both sides of the issue met at the Hitchcock Academy in Brimfield where questions were answered by First Wind, the company looking to build the wind turbines.  This coming spring of 2011 there will be a Town meeting in Brimfield, and one of the items up for vote will be whether or not to change the zoning to allow First Wind to build the towers.

Ahhh.  Town meetings.  Remember those.  We just had one here in town.  A special one.  Lasted about 30 minutes.  Annual town meetings are great ways to get things done in a town, or to pass on some things, too.  Expensive things like bricks, silly things like Astro Turf on high school ball fields, and important things like new police cruisers, or fire trucks should be voted on at town meetings, and for the most part, they are.

Then again, there are some things that local leaders take upon for themselves, and decide for us.

Can't do that, though.  Nope.  We're still in charge, and whether they are selectmen, state representatives, or congressmen, they represent us.  They don't act on their own without our input.

But, it seems that they are, and may even continue to do so.

We deserve better than that.

Speak loudly, speak frequently, ask questions, and expect answers that do not insult your intelligence, play word games, or sound as if Professor Irwin Corey is the one responding.  Expect straight, civil, accurate answers, and if they cannot give one, then expect them to find the answer, and give you a time when they will get back to you.

This is so basic.

It"s time to get back to basics.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

She Reached Out, And Spoke

On Monday evening, longtime resident Ginger Peabody took the floor at the Selectmen's meeting, and spoke.  She feels very strongly about what she said that night, and although the Board of Selectmen heard her loud and clear, we won't know until the next town "project" evolves as to whether or not they actually listened to Ginger's words as well.

"For the record, my name is Ginger Peabody, Fiskdale.  I am here to request a process be instituted but first I’d like to give some background.
Within the past week brick sidewalks have been installed in the Common area, I realize that it’s a done deal, that this Board voted on it and its over.  This Board voted on it without firm funding in place, I know that there are three possible sources, the State, Chapter 90 funds or CPC funds.  I assume that the chances of the State picking up the tab for the $189,000 brick sidewalks are just about slim to none.  This leaves the Chapter 90 or CPC funds to pay for the project.  I have no doubt that these funds legally could be used but traditionally Chapter 90 funds have been used to repair our bridges and streets, our infrasture.  Health and safety of the residents was brought up by I assume a member of this Board, and our DPW director said that this would not be an issue but as far as I know he didn’t give it a “great,  please use Chapter 90 funds to pay for the brick sidewalks, our roads and bridges are in great shape”.  I happened to go the CPC meeting where the brick sidewalk funding was discussed, some members were all for the funding others were against it, the matter was put on hold until they could seek advice from Counsel whether or not they could use money from the Historical fund, again, not quite a ringing endorsements.
There was a Special Town Meeting in August where we had to vote on transfers of money, some accounts were over the budgeted amount by as little as $200 some odd dollars but yet we had to vote on the transfer.  Here the amount over budget is $189,000 and it was voted on by the BOS without real input from the public.  I for one never thought this Board would have a final vote without major input.  If the State does not pay the $189,00 out of the 131 project monies  our input will be whether or not to use CPC monies and if that fails this Board can use Chapter 90 money without any say from the residents.
This is not the first time a project with considerably money involved has been approved without what I call “real input from the residents”.  I”m referring to the artificial turf at Tantasqua in the amount of approximately 2 million dollars that this Board approved.  Luckily the other towns  involved let the matter go before their Town Meetings and it was turned down, we were not afforded that same opportunity.
My request is ,the process that I would like to see instituted,  if in the future a project comes before this Board with real money involved, that the Board seek real input from the residents.  This could be done in several ways, if a Town Meeting is already scheduled, place the project on the agenda as a non-binding issue, if an election is scheduled, place the project on the ballot as a non-binding issue, if neither is possible place it on the Town Web site where people can vote, this has been done in the past.
I’m not here to debate but asking this Board to give  us a real chance to have input into how our tax dollars are to be spent, perhaps that way we won’t feel that something has been shoved down our throats without our say.

Thank you for listening."

Well said, and thank you, Ginger.
Spoken by Fiskdale resident Ginger Peabody to the Town of Sturbridge Selectmen at their meeting on September 20, 2010.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Reach Out And Touch Someone

Leaving comments on a town related post is a great way to vent your feelings. Another way is to send your comments, or the actual posting, directly to those at Town Hall. You will get an answer.

Town Administrator
(508) 347-2500

Town Selectmen
Mary Dowling
Mary Blanchard
Scott Garieri

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Land Of The Tiny Brained People

Sometimes I just stop dead in my tracks, get that vacant stare I am sometimes known for,  and wonder what the heck motivates some people.

I did that today while reading the Town Common newspaper.  On the front page there is an article about the brick sidewalks that are being put in here in town.  There is also mention, in the same article, about the intersection of Main and Haynes Street.

Now, you may wonder why this article would be mentioning the two hot button issues here in town in the same article, well, it is because the Board of Selectmen voted 4 to 1 to limit the brick sidewalk project at the the intersection of Main and Haynes Street based on the DOT engineer, Linda Terry's recommendation to leave the sidewalks up there as concrete because....

...wait for it...wait for it....

"My assumption is that truck traffic will continue to ride up on this curbing and after sometime the brick will not be able to take this additional loading", she wrote in an email to Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski.

Oh, I don't know, Terry, maybe the states engineer for the DOT admitting that the width of Haynes Street at the intersection is not wide enough to allow a proper turning radius of a truck, and that the design is flawed might be enough to correct the problem!

Now, what about our TA, Shaun Suhoski?  Why didn't he push to fix the intersection instead of settling for a flawed plan?  In its email to him, the state admitted that the intersection will not allow for a proper turning radius without trucks using the new sidewalks.  Whose family will standing at the corner, on those sidewalks next time that happens?

Is it me?

Have I gone to sleep and awoken in the Land of the Tiny Brained People, or is it because those in a position to change a mistake, correct a problem have no idea on how to do it, so, they make do?

Please let it be the Land of the Tiny Brained People, then there would be a decent excuse.

There will come a day when the residents of this town are going gather at the intersection of Haynes and Main and scream up at that newly refurbished Town Hall, "Enough stupidity!!"  They will demand answers, no longer stand to have their money spent willy-nilly, and take back control of their town.

I hope that day is soon.

I wish it was today.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I like it.

© Walt Disney Corporation

Well, this little guy already has a job, but who knows, maybe he has a local cousin?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Harness The Passion

One thing that is evident to me after Thinking Out Loud for almost three years is that there are some issues, topics, and subjects that people will read, maybe nod their head to in agreement, or acknowledgement, and then there are other issues that set off a tirade of passionate comments.

Hot buttons can be a key that unlocks our emotions.  Whether it be sidewalks, or intersections, or the laundry list of other topics that have caused  recluses not heard from for years to venture out of their Lazy Boys, and onto the internet to vent their opinions, these emotional issues have stirred a passion for doing the right thing.

Some times when a person is passionate for change, and just "ain't gonna take it anymore", they will run for office, hopefully win , and finally be in the position to evoke that positive change we all seek.

Tom Creamer took this route.

I think there are many, many more here in town that would like that same opportunity.  Maybe not to run for office, but to stand up, voice their opinion, and be heard beyond the comment section of a local blog, or local newspaper.  There are enough out there that think similarly that if organized, their small passionate voices would become so much louder, and impossible not to hear, and acknowledge.

It is worth a shot.  Those interested in sharing common local passions, and ideas should meet each other in person over a cup of coffee.  Exchange their ideas, maybe meet regularly enough to put their hodge podge collection of  wishes, dreams, and thoughts into some order, and once done, then begin to speak out with a stronger, collective voice.

Organizing works.  If enough people out there organized their passions they would be heard, and become strong enough to cause the changes they would like to see.

Just a thought.

Passion burns brightest when shared.

Old Sturbridge Village Celebrates Apple Days Oct. 2-3

Heirloom apple tasting, cider-making, mulled cider tasting, orchard walks and more

Sturbridge, Mass.) September 16, 2010 - Old Sturbridge Village celebrates the taste and history of an old-fashioned New England apple harvest during its annual  Apple Days weekend Sat.-Sun. Oct. 2-3. Visitors can taste nearly forgotten heirloom apple varieties and mulled cider, help the farmers harvest apples, try their hands at cider-making, and see the horse-powered Cider Mill in operation grinding apples.

OSV historians will cook with apples over the hearth in the Village’s “Small House,” and will make apple pie plates in the Pottery Shop, apple corers in the Tin Shop, and mulling irons in the Blacksmith Shop. Village horticulturists will lead orchard walks and recount the amazing origins of some of today’s popular apple varieties. On Sat., Oct. 2 Old Sturbridge Village Members compete in the annual apple pie baking contest, and on Sun. Oct. 3 visitors can try plowing with the Village oxen to start a new seedling orchard. For all times and details: 800-733-1820;

In the 1830s, apples were used fresh, stored in cellars, dried, or pressed into cider, making them an important food source all year long. Among the finest storage apples were Baldwins and Roxbury Russets, which could keep for months. Children had the important job of checking the apples stored in barrels in the root cellar, making sure that “one bad apple” did not “spoil the bunch.”
According to OSV historians, there were once thousands of apple varieties in North America and by the early 1800s, local farmers developed hundreds of unique varieties especially suited to the New England climate. These heirloom apples had distinctive flavors and memorable names like Hubbardston Nonesuch, Rhode Island Greening, Westfield Seek No Further, Sutton Beauty, Northern Spy, Golden Russet, and Cox’s Orange Pippin.

Today’s supermarkets carry only a few apple varieties in comparison, and they are chosen not for taste, but because they ship well, have a long shelf life, and have dependable harvests.
Old Sturbridge Village celebrates New England life in the 1830s and is open 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., seven days a week through Oct. 31, when the winter schedule begins.  Admission: $20; seniors $18; children 3-17, $7; children under 3, free. For details of all activities and hours of operation, visit or call 800-SEE-1830.
Contact: Ann Lindblad (508) 347-0323; (508) 886-2689;

Hmmm...You think?

Memory bricks.
Just a thought, but it could raise some cash for the sidewalks, and over 5 years,or so, could pay for the whole thing.

There is always a way to pay, just need to think on it, and market it just right.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Well, So Much For Priorities

Inside The Head of a Politician

I like brick sidewalks.
I would like to have the money to install brick sidewalks.
Brick sidewalks add a homey, warm touch to a town, or area.
Brick sidewalks are seldom historic in a particular area, but they look nice.
Brick sidewalks need to be installed in a way as to be maintenance free.
Bricks do cost more than concrete.
...bricks do look nicer.
I would like brick sidewalks installed right down Route 20 
in Fiskdale...
...with brick crosswalks, too.
I would also like the money to install them there, too.
If I don't have the money to install the sidewalks along the Common,
Then I would like to use money set aside for other things.
Because I don't plan too well.
Because I decide things on impulse, 
And, because when I do plan well,
I spend the money on others things instead.
I don't think on where I am going to get more money right away.

I am really a mess.


I am a mess that is going to have some mighty fine new brick sidewalks.

I'm feeling better already.

                                                              The End

As a matter of record,  I am all for brick sidewalks in town.  They look great, and they add a certain ambiance to an area, historic, or not.  I am also big on setting priorities, and having the funds to do projects without putting other, more important, things in jeopardy.  

If that can be done, then I will feel better, too.  If not, then I will live with the decisions that have been made.  What choice do I have?

Well, there is always the town elections.  I'll have a choice then.

I'll wait, and in the meantime, I'll write.

I'm feeling better already.

We Can Do It!

There's still time to get nominated for the 2011 list.

From the Plymouth Rock Blog:

10 Most Dangerous Intersections in Massachusetts

With school out and vacation season in full swing, more people are bound to be on the roads. With that comes an increased risk to you and your passengers, which raises the importance of maintaining awareness behind the wheel.
It’s our advice that you always be aware and careful in any driving situation. However, there are some roadways that are more prone to accidents than others. Below is a list of ten intersections in Massachusetts where you’ll need to take extra caution. According to the Massachusetts Highway Department’s Top 200 High Crash Intersection Locations Report, these 10 intersections (out of 220) were ranked as the most dangerous in the state due to the number of car crashes per year over a two-year period:
  1. Lowell, MA: Intersection of Bridge Street and Veterans of Foreign Wars Highway (Route 38)
  2. Fall River, MA: Plymouth Avenue (Route 81) and Rodman Street
  3. Framingham, MA: Hollis Street (Route 126) and Waverley Street (Route 135)
  4. Boston, MA: Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard
  5. Lowell, MA: Middlesex Street and Wood Street
  6. Woburn, MA: Montvale Avenue and Washington Street
  7. Lynn, MA: Western Avenue (Route 107) and Franklin Street
  8. Brockton, MA: West Elm Street and Newbury Street
  9. Brockton, MA: Pleasant Street (Route 27) and West Street
  10. Lowell, MA: Church Street (Route 110) and Appleton Street
Of course, a critical component of safe driving is to avoid distractions that may take your eyes off the road, even if only for a split second. Check out Plymouth Rock’s recent post on tips to avoid common driving distractions.  Source:

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?"

"Back to our local desk for an update about the intersection of Haynes and Main Street... Hello?  (ahem)  An update about the it is...right now.."


Click here for Bueller

Thursday, September 9, 2010

She's Been Here Before

Ever notice an infants face as they check out their surroundings?  As soon as they are able to "see" shapes, and faces in front of them they will watch, and connect to those eyes watching them.  They will smile, and laugh when we do the same to them.  They are great mimics.  You will interacting with them when suddenly someone walks behind you, or enters the room to the left, and the baby's eyes will dart to that person and follow them.

They are showing that they are aware.  They may not understand, that is more advanced than just being aware.  Being aware is one iota away from doing a Neil Diamond, and crying, "I am!", and that is the beginning of understanding.

How this all happens is beyond me, but watching it happen is something I have seen many times, and I will always find it to be amazing.  Another thing that I find amazing is when an infants eyes dart over your shoulder and follow someone to the other side of the room, and smile, maybe laugh, but there is no one there.

No one else in the room except you, and the babe.

What did they see?  What were they smiling at?

I have my own opinions on this, and to most it would sound as if I was out of my mind, and maybe I am, but maybe they see those that have gone before us.  Maybe, as they spend more time being part of the world, they slowly loose this ability, and become like the rest of us, unknowing, and unbelieving.

I know, a lot to take in.  Babies seeing spirits, making contact with those that have passed on, but are still among us.  It is a lot.

Plain crazy talk.

Maybe they see angels instead.  Sounds a lot nicer, and better accepted than just spirits.  But, what are theses angels saying, or doing to elicit such reactions from the babies?

I haven't a clue, but something is being shared, and by someone I don't see.

Of course this is all pure speculation.  Pure speculative, crazy talk.  Right?

For the past few weeks on TV there may be something a bit more concrete than pure speculation.  Something that I have never experienced before.  Is she an "old soul"?  Someone that has been here before, or maybe an angel themselves?

Or, maybe just somone that while they were at that "awareness" stage as an infant, they listened, and learned as well.

Speculation.  Whacky beliefs.

Listen to the video below, and after it is finished think about what you just heard, how it was presented, and who presented it.  Then think about that angel theory again.  Maybe, just maybe, this time the angel has decided to stay.

By the way, this angel is only ten years old.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

There, I Said It. Your Turn

This bugs the heck out of me.  I don't want to hold it in.  Too many don't say a word, and that perpetuates the issue.

The entire world of Islam is not to blame for acts that extremists that practice Islam have done.

There.  I've said it.  A Christian American making a statement that too many think, but do not say aloud.

It wasn't hard at all.  Acknowledging the truth can be easy, or hard depending on your motivation.

Just as the atrocities, and acts of terrorism attributed to the Ku Klux Klan, and other white extremist groups, do not speak for me as a white man, or the unrestricted  killing of those different from the Aryan people seventy plus years ago, speak of me as a Christian.  Those unspeakable acts performed by those that practice a particular faith, or hold a certain belief were not performed by the majority of the people in that religion, or belief.  They were performed by extremists, and extremists, by consciously choosing their actions, also choose their fate as we all do.

These are simple things.

Simple things, but things that has been ignored for hundreds, and hundreds of years, by not speaking out, closing ones eyes, turning our head the other way, and not standing tall, and saying loudly,  "I hate what has been done as much as you do".

Man has always associated an individuals actions with a group they may be part of.  It happens.

Isn't it strange that there is no finger pointing at people like the "Craig's List Killer", and condemnation of all blond, white, med students as predator killers. We know the associations that would have been made if he wasn't blond, and white.

God knows that too many atrocities have been committed by white, Christian  men, but we don't associate all of them with those that have committed the acts.

Over the next few days, remember those we have lost to extremism in any form, at any time, and continue to hate those murderous acts.  You may also hate those that performed them as well; that is up to you, and your God.   One thing you could also do is to take a step to end the perpetual, anonymous hate of a an entire people for what a few have done, and are still doing.

Speaking out, and beyond the rhetoric is long overdue.

Unless we step out of, and away from the circle of blame, and hate, the circle will go unbroken, and we all know what that has wrought.

Those lost to us by extreme acts of hate deserve to still be amongst us, and they also deserve to have the world changed in their name, and memory.

Big job, and a long overdue one.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

National Public Lands Day is September 25

National Public Lands Day is Saturday Sept 25th. Brimfield, Sturbridge,
Southbridge, the Grand Trunk Trail Blazers, and the Corps of Engineers will
all be holding trail work events in their communities/public lands. As you
can see from below the National organization is looking for the "volunteers"
to participate. I am hoping in the next few weeks you can give this some
exposure in your blogs as you can. Contact Any one of us to meet with you and go over specific projects. They are:

Brimfield: Working on several sections of the GTT along 5 bridge RD
to US Rt 20. Work includes brush cutting, root and rock removal and trash and litter clean up (along RT 20 is really bad). Contact either Tony Bys at
413-245-9297, emailtbys9297@charter.netor Rick Costa at
Sturbridge:Working on completion of final sections of trail on the
Heins Farm Conservation Lands, contact Randy Redetzke at 508-344-9823 or email

Southbridge:Working on trails in Cole forest, brush trimming,
invasive plant removal, contact Maureen Doyle at

Corps of Engineers: Working towards completion of needed shoulder
work by spreading loam and grass seed along the Grand Trunk Trail.

Contact Tom Chamberland at 508-347-3705 or

Pre registration is requested, of note several Girl scout troops have
already volunteered ( see NPLD web site below) Registration starts at 8 AM In Brimfield (5 bridge rd), Sturbridge (Heins Farm) and Westville Lake (Corps
and Southbridge) with crews working from 8:30 to 11 am.

At 11:30 AM there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony on the recently
completed 1.2 mile section of Grand Trunk trail from Wallace Rd to the Ed
Calcutt Bridge. State and Town officials along with the Corps of Engineers
will be present. Pizza lunch and cake for all volunteers following at
Westville Lake Park. Donations of bottled water is still needed. Volunteers
are requested to wear appropriate clothing and shoes, and bring work gloves
and water bottles. All other tools and materials will be provided. For any
general question please contact me.


Tom Chamberland
Park Ranger

Life Signs Along 148

I live on a road that sees its share of traffic.  Depending on the day, and time of year, it can be very tough to get out of the driveway, or it can be a breeze.  No big deal, that's life on Route 148, but what I am finding out is that those cars that drive by actually have humans inside of them, and aren't just cars.

OK, OK, I know, sounds strange, but how often do we actually connect with the faces inside the cars that drive by our homes?  Well, if we live on a cul-de-sac maybe a bit more than most, but on a busy state highway, not at all.  Of course, when someone beeps, and waves I will wave back at the tail lights as they drive by, but that's it.

Unless they were driving a clown car, I have a hard time recognizing them once they pass the house at 50 mph.

So, how do I know there are humans, real people in those cars, and not just automatons?  Well, I've been finding traces of them all along my lawn.

I know, amazing, huh?  I feel like an archaeologist, or better yet, CSI: Fiskdale.

We have 304 feet of frontage, and that accounts for a lot of space for folks to toss their whatevers out of their car window, and for those items to land on our lawn.  Littering has always been with us, although in the past 40 years, it has decreased dramatically, but there is still litter out there.   What is even more bothersome than a Ring Ding wrapper on our lawn is the other things I find.

  • Nip bottles.  You know, those little bottles of booze.  A lot of them.  Every week, another flavor, or two.  You can be sure that whomever threw it onto my lawn did not loose it out of their bottle recycling bag.  This scares the bejeepers out of me for obvious reasons.
  • Lottery scratch cards.  This is frightening as well, especially if there is only one person in the car, and they are the one scratching, and driving.
  • An abandoned bicycle.  The one I found was stolen, and the police did come and retrieve it.
  • Fast food wrappers.  All kinds of them.  And the incidence increases during the school year as students stop at Micky D's for a quick Sausage Biscuit on the way to school.  No surprise here.
  • Wedding bouquets.  Found this one earlier last week.  Must have been  one hell of a toss at the reception.  That would be one bride I would like to see pitch for the majors.
  • Cell phones. They were broken. I did find a cell phone intact on a Sandwich beach a few years ago.  I charged it up, and found the address and returned it.  I also checked out the photos, but I felt like a voyeur.  The phones I found on my lawn didn't have photos on them.  Disappointing.
  • Condoms.  I know, I know, but how, never mind why.
  • Cigarette packages, and butts will always be with us.
  • Mail.  Unopened mail form out of the area, and occasionally opened mail still in the envelope.  what is up with this?  The unopened mail I will stick it in the mailbox and hope it finds its way home, and the opened mail will get a new stamp and some tape, and off it goes again.  Talk about being haunted by your bills.  
These are a few of the unique things I find.  It's a treasure hunt, really, but I wish the pirates tossing their booty would throw something of worth now and again.  

What is thrown away, when it is discarded, and why, does speak loudly about our society.  We are not all sober behind the wheel, obviously, and we gamble while driving, too.  The cell phone thing is expected, but why toss the phone out the window?  Bad reception, or bad conversation?  I wish I was a fly on the wall inside that car.  The condom thing I don't want to explore any further.

So, from the microcosm along my front lawn I've had a a unique view into local society.  Some of it expected, some surprising, and some conjuring up disturbing visuals.  Funny ones, but still disturbing.

I guess I really shouldn't complain.  The remnants of living life may litter our lawn,but that shows  that our village is alive.

Sure beats the alternative.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Stay Tuned

Ever get one of those yearnings to change your career?  Now, I don't mean the voice that you hear on a bad day on the job that says, "I've got to find another line of work".  I mean even on a great day you wonder how it would be to do something entirely different, maybe be your own boss.

I have, and the more years I pack on, the more I think about it.

Now, there is a problem, being a registered nurse doesn't exactly prequalify one for a bunch of other jobs, not without further schooling, or training.  I like schooling, but I wouldn't want to wait in order to start a new direction in life because of having go back to school.  I'd like to do both simultaneously.

And, that's where the problem is.  In the current state of the economy one is lucky to find one job that is a fit, never mind a job that one can custom fit ones lifestyle.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being an RN, and have for a long time, but there is a part of me that still wants to be a forest ranger, own a country inn, run a canoe / kayak rental outfit, be a full time writer,  even a landscape photographer, or some local job that requires some skill.

I guess I have itchy feet, and the urge to expand my work experience into other areas is getting a lot stronger, and I can't relieve that itch.

I should be thankful I am employed, accept things as they are, and move on.

Naw.  That's not me.  I'll figure something out. I am ripe for an adventure.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thank You

This past Wednesday I received a couple of comments on the post I wrote about recess in school.  Please take a moment to read them.  Both were great, but one of them stuck out.  It was a good thirteen paragraphs long, but each one spoke to the reader.  The writer was  venting, letting go, and releasing all those long pent up feelings about society, and life.  It was  if a sigh had been held in for way too long, and was finally being exhaled.

The feeling after that last period was typed, and the "Post Comment" button pushed must have lightened the writer by years.

It is a catharsis.

Yesterday morning I received another comment from that writer, who signs themselves as "Maple Leaf":

"Thanks Wally. Yes, it sure is good to "hear" that others think the same way, and this page gives us the opportunity to say what we think without a "yeah but" breaking in while we say it. As you clearly know, when we just tell it like it is, it's like some power takes over and writes it for us. All we have to do is be there to work the computer keyboard. Thanks for providing the space, and keep up the good work."

--Maple Leaf

And, that was one of the reasons I started writing here.  "Telling it like it is" may not always accomplish what we would like, but it does a couple of things.  One thing it does is place reality right out there for all to see.  Others may have ignored, or hidden, the reality part in town politics, or some other issue, and when we "tell it like it is",  we show that we know, and we aren't going to pretend not to know.  It helps with how others choose their words in the future.  With other events, or issues it puts folks on notice to be careful when making a decision  that will affect many.  They will be challenged publicly.

Another thing it does is to put it out there as a matter of record.  A time stamped, written record.  No more can one say, "I didn't know", or "It wasn't made clear to me", or the famous, "I wish someone had said something".  It's there, and as with most everything on the internet, it will be there for a long time.

It is good to know that there are others out there that think similarly.  Makes me feel like we should form a club, or something.  Maybe even have a secret handshake; we already have our motto:

Tell it like it is.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Something So Simple

The incidence of a child being diagnosed with ADD, and ADHD has increased dramatically over the past twenty years.  There are many ideas out there as to why this is, but I have my own ideas.

Now, please understand my ideas aren't based on the fact that my profession has given me some input,  and experience in this whole thing.  No, it is mainly because if what is happening to our kids now with over diagnosis, and treatment, and all the medicine show remedies out there were to have occurred forty years ago I would not be the person I am today.  I feel very strongly that my creative / abstract side would have been stunted beyond repair.

I would be someone else.

Today, everything from children being subjected to hours of TV from an early age, to pesticides, and genetics are being blamed for the increase in diagnosis.  Understanding how this whole diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment thing works can help us to figure things out a bit easier.

Keep in mind that there are absolutely genuine, definitive assessments, diagnosis, and appropriate treatments given daily by those that we entrust our children to, and those diagnosis, and treatments should be followed up on regularly.  If you have questions about hour child's diagnosis, and treatment address it with the practitioner that made the diagnosis, and prescribed the treatment.  Don't ever stop a treatment, or medicine on your own.

There is also a lot of BS out there as well.

First, very rarely does a parent bring a child to the pediatrician with the complaint that the child is too active, and doesn't pay attention at home, although it may be true, and some parents may do just that.  This is something that the child's teacher will usually suggest to the parents based on their observations in the class room.  The parents will then take their child to the pediatrician, and give the teachers observations to the doctor.  The doctor will interview the parents, and the child, and based on what the doctor learns from all sources, he will then either choose to observe the child further, or to initiate treatment.

And, here lies part of the problem: the teachers referral.

The teacher, although in an excellent position to observe behaviors, is making referrals based on behaviors witnessed in a closed, confined environment, for six hours out of twenty four.  The younger children seldom leave the classroom except for lunch, and if the school still allows it, recess.  Otherwise, children are kept in the classroom for too many hours without a release.  Recess is the release that is needed most.  A totally free recess without grownup intervention to "make it better", or more meaningful.  Or more refined, precise, timely, and well spent.  Depending on the child's age, recess should be twice a day, especially for the younger ones.

Cripes.  Just open the door, and let the kids fly outside, and just be kids.

Yep, they will act nutty, run in circles without a purpose, raise their voices, and play tag.  Yes, kids will touch each other, pull ponytails, and give nuggies.  They will invade each others personal space.  It happens.  They're kids, let them be.  Let them get tired.  And, along the way teach them about boundaries.

Repeat as needed.

To a majority of teachers that are teaching today this behavior is not what they are used to in the classroom either when they were students themselves, or as teachers today, and when it is observed, it is reported to the parent as something that needs to be addressed.  It is then hoped that the child will see a pediatrician, and  maybe placed on medication to help them to conform.

It's a bit Brave New World-ish.

Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, Strattera have all become as commonplace in the morning as Flintstone Chewables.  Think about it, will it become commonplace, when we get to be older, that our children will have us medicated so we are easier to get along with.

Wait.  Scratch that.  Some already do.

If the schools would just let kids vent.  Get the morning out of their system.  Their little sister hogging the bathroom, the bus driver that was a bit late, the lunch that mom made that spilled from the bag on the way into school.  Kid stress.

Kids are affected by everyday things, too.  Stress affects them, as it does us, and if they don't have "water cooler" time to let it go, then they will let it go in class.

I know, I did, but without recess when I was in the the early grades I would have dealt with things a lot worse than I did.

This is so simple.  Why have we subjected so many of our kids to medicines in order to make them more docile, controllable, and more like the kid sitting beside them?  If our bosses insisted on medicating us in order to comply with corporate policy, would we stand for it?

Recently, in East Providence, Rhode Island the school district decided to end recess.

Big mistake.

If they do you can be sure there will be a big spike in notes home to parents about their children acting out, more trips to the pediatrician, more prescriptions written, and more children placed in control mode for the school day, but allowed to be kids after school and on weekends.

Ever wonder about that?  Why they prescribe medication for the school day only?  Sort of confirms what I have been preaching for some time, the medication is used for control during school, and somehow control translates to better learning, and understanding, but kids can just be kids at home.

Well, since children learn best by example you can be sure that some time from now they will be booking appointments for their parents with the family doctor as soon their parents AARP invitations arrive in the mail.

What goes around...

The article below is from

R.I. School Eliminates Recess for Elementary Kids

(Credit: AP)
NEW YORK (CBS/AP) A Rhode Island school district is doing away with the time-honored tradition of recess.
Beginning in the fall, East Providence Elementary School students will not be given 10 minutes before or after lunch to play. Instead of the traditional free-play, schools will be partnering with the YMCA to design a more comprehensive physical education program that will keep students active, even without recess.
As you can imagine, parents can be found falling on both sides of this conversation.
On one side, seeing a school district focusing on the challenge of childhood obesity and inactivity with creative structured activity via physical education reform is refreshing to see. Left of their own accord, not all children choose activity -- even in play time like recess -- and many of them need to be motivated to make the choice to move. A program like this could be very positive for parents facing some of these issues.
At the same time, it's not like all the facets of recess will be taken from these students unilaterally. Teachers in the district will be taught how to both recognize the need for and facilitate in class breaks that include some free-form play and other stress relieving "down time" for the class, allaying some of the fears parents have about the removal of the current notion of recess.
On the other side, you have parents worrying about how taking away the ten minutes of "kid time" from elementary school kids will negatively impact their children. Recess is not only play-time, but for children being pushed harder and more explicitly earlier in elementary schools than ever before, it is a source of release from stress, rejuvenation within the day and a constant lesson in self-guided social interaction.
For my daughter who will be approaching elementary school age soon, the free time at her pre-school is where most of the stories of the friendships she is making or the questions about social interactions are born. Critical learning about how children interact together -- both individually and in larger groups -- can happen in these small pockets of time on the playground. While it can certainly be argued that the playground is not the only place that social skills are acquired, my stronger memories of times -- both challenging and positive -- interacting with peers happened in this free time.
As a parent, I would be very nervous about my 6- to 8-year-old spending too much time in a completely structured school experience. There is certainly a place for the traditional notion of recess in my kids' experience. Whether it be learning new games or interacting directly with friends as peers. While I very much appreciate the inspiration for the increased importance in physical education by the Rhode Island school system, recess may not be the proper time to be replaced to accommodate it.  -- CBS