Archive for November, 2009

A Walk Down Memory “Lane”

November 14, 2009

When Megan and I were in NH, I had the opportunity to show her my life before I was married.  We took a lot of pictures and I thought I’d share the same story with all of you.

My family moved to NH from Connecticut in the summer of 1978, the summer before I entered 11th grade.  I was away all summer as a camp counselor up in the mountains of NH while the transition happened.

Megan and I headed out for the “Nostalgia Tour” the morning we were to leave NH.  I turned left onto Lane Road.


When we lived here, we would often walk down to the “gate” and watch the beauty of the seasons.



On the way back to our home, we would pass our neighbors.  We lived in the Historical District and each home has a “story.”


This was a girl’s school …


The other homes had stories too but they weren’t as obvious as this one.




This house belonged to a lawyer and the family lived across the street from us.  She and my mom were good friends…


This house was across the street and she was a teacher in the high school.  I’m told she still lives there but I didn’t want to knock on the door.


This home was next to ours and belonged to an elderly lady.  There’s a “For Sale” sign now.

And this is the home I lived in – it was built in 1806.


It’s a long house.  As the needs arose, different owners would add on to the back and the barn is off the back corner, making it look like a big “L”.


My dad put so much heart and sweat into fixing up our beautiful home.  I loved living here, the home had so much character.  The winter’s were cold though.  Until Dad put in the footings around the house, snow would come up under the edges.  The back part of the house, where my sister and I slept, was heated with a wood stove.  She and I would stay in bed until we heard the grating of the cover as Mom put wood in to start a fire.  There were registers in the floor to allow the heat to rise.  Found out later that the boys would sneak upstairs and listen and watch through those registers when my sister or I would be with our dates downstairs!

This is where I had my first real job.  I worked in the General Store as a cashier.  We could walk here from our home on Lane Road.


And my brothers and sister and I would play basketball at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club gym right next door.  The building looked a little better 30 years ago.


And this is the town library.  I think I only went inside one time because there was a bigger one with a lot more books in the next town.



And, of course, this would not be a New England town without a church.

The church is right across the street from the General Store and next to the library.


I’d always seen this sign but it wasn’t until I came back that I realized how old this church really is!



And I never realized how big it is till my daughter stood next to it….



I passed this statue all the time…


But I never took the time to read the inscription.


And I never read this one either…


This is the cemetery behind the church.  We used to play hide and seek here on scary nights.  Seems a bit disrespectful to me now.


And so in penance for those nights, we’ll just walk quietly through this New England cemetery and wonder about all the stories that went to these graves…










I love how Mother Nature adds her own beauty…



When I saw this one, I wondered if the Lane Road that I had lived on was named after this person.

And as I stood there in this cemetery with my 12 year old daughter, 30 years later, I was reminded how quickly time passes and that we are the maker of our memories.

It was very poignant that we saw this sign on our way out of the cemetery.


This is the name of the road we live on in Georgia – past meets present.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”         Mark Twain


A Walk Along the New England Shore

November 7, 2009

I love the New England shoreline.  For me, it gives physical expression to the spirit of the New England people.

It’s rugged and strong…


…introspective and constant.


New England people aren’t known for being demonstrative and yet, if one is patient and observant…

there are treasures to be found.


… fascinating, sometimes, obscure findings.


And there may be times you’re unsure of what you’ve found…


…but wait, be still, and the meaning will come to you.


And so I walk along the shore of New England, waiting…


forcing my spirit to be quiet and still…


…breathing the salt air, feeling the ocean breezes brush against my face…

My soul takes wing…


… and I am alone…


…in a place to wonder


and contemplate…


…and dream.


The reality of life, the every day sights and sounds,


the common…


the familiar…


those who are partial to my heart…


are given new perspective when I walk along the shore of New England.


The mundane becomes precious with renewed vision.


And though I am a stranger along this shoreline…


…my soul finds peace and tranquility… and is very much at home.

Blacksmithing at D Acres in New Hampshire

November 2, 2009

D Acres is located in the White Mountains for NH, outside the town of Rumney.  It’s a family owned farm and they offer educational classes.  I was intrigued by their blacksmithing class and it just happened to be held on the weekend I was going to be in NH.  I signed up and I also signed up my brother-in-law, Russ.  We took the older 4 girls who participated in a papier mache class.

Saturday morning was wet and cold.  We left in the pouring down rain and headed to the mountains.  I was a bit disappointed because I really wanted to get some photographs of the White Mountains in all their fall splendor.  Oh well…

We passed Rumney and the campgrounds where I had been a camper and counselor for many summers.  Kind of like when you go back to see your elementary school – it looked so much bigger then!

We drove up and up and back on a single lane road and finally we saw the sign for D Acres.  Interesting…

One of the barns had peace signs all over it.  They had a huge satelite dish and other non-conventional items around the place.  The big barn was beautiful with incredible woodwork in the face of the barn.  We entered inside and finally found Josh, the Executive Director.  There were interesting slogans all over the wall – this was exactly what I was expecting for this place.  To sum it up, my brother-in-law sometimes does work for the government.  He commented to me, “I sure hope I don’t lose my security clearance after being here!”

This farm typified the NH slogan – “live free or die.”


This is the blacksmithing shop.  Joe, our instructor, built all of this with scrap pieces.


He even made the bellows.  It’s a double chamber which helps to keep the air flowing into the forge.  The bellows are about 4 feet long.


I never knew there were so many different kinds of tongs.  These are used to hold the metal after it’s hot.


And of course, the anvil and the hammer are key to blacksmithing.  An anvil of this size new is about $1600.


We learned all about the coal which is used to heat the fire.  The piece on the left is called a klinker and the one on the right is coke.

Klinkers aren’t good in the fire.  They are the stage before ash.  Coke, however, is the best stage for the coal.


And this is Joe, our instructor.  He was wonderful and so patient while teaching us.  All the questions I asked never irritated him!


He lit the fire.  There are 4 levels to the fire and the place that’s most efficient for heating the metal is in the second level from the top.


The metal needs to be heated to an orange and then hammered to shape.


Joe taught us how to make metal hooks.



The end had to be hammered into a point before it could be bent into a curly que.


You have to be careful not to allow the metal to fold over on itself or it flakes and breaks off – I know, I did it.  The curling happens by bending the metal over the edge of the anvil.


Once the hook part is curled, Joe needed to cut the metal to make it shorter.  The wedge he put in the anvil is called a hardy tool and it’s placed in a hardy hole.

The metal is hit on two sides until there is a wedge in the metal and then it’s broken off by bending the rod.


To cool the metal a little faster, it’s “quenched” in water.


Here’s the hook.  It’s made out a piece of rebar.  Joe had to fix the top.


Now the metal is too short to hold with the hand so he had to use tongs.


These tongs were rounded out in the end so they could securely hold the metal rod.  See the hardy hole in the anvil?


Joe made the top of the metal to look like a nail.  See how he bent it over the edge of the anvil?


After the piece is finished, it’s brushed with a menacing metal brush to take off the small flakes of metal from the firing.


Then the hook is rubbed down with beeswax to give it the finished look.


It smells so good!


This is the finished hook.  This can be pounded into a piece of wood – great for a barn or timber.


This is another piece that Joe made – I thought it was really cool, especially since it’s made from a piece of rebar.


Now it was our turn.  I let Russ have the first go 🙂


This is my piece – notice how much thinner our first piece of metal is.  Joe didn’t want to frustrate the heck out of us for our first try.


I began to understand the whole process of banging the hammer on the anvil.  The rebounded of the hammer lessens greatly the amount of effort it takes to keep picking up the hammer.  The hammer I had to use on the rebar piece was much heavier than this one.


I made two of the thinner metal hooks and then asked Joe if I could make one to put a screw through to attach to the wall.  He sure but I would have to learn how to “punch” the metal.  It was an advanced technique and he only had one guy so far that had cried because he was frustrated.  Perfect!  I was definitely up for this challenge 🙂


The “punch” isn’t putting a hole in the metal, it’s displacing the metal to the outside.  It took precise hitting with the hammer and a lot of patience – but I did it and I didn’t even cry!

This hook is about 6″ long.  Do you see the twist in the middle of the hook?  Well, it’s best to do the hook end first and then do the top.  I didn’t do that.  It made it more difficult to line up the top with the hook so it would hang straight on the wall.  So, it was a little off.  I heated it in the fire and then put it in a vice and twisted the hook until everything was lined up.  So now you know.  Those twists look like decorations but really they’re used to hide mistakes!


Joe’s a big proponent of using scrap metal from junk yards.  He showed us that the way sparks dispersed determined the type of metal it is.


Fin, another guy who was blacksmithing, showed us how a rasp could also be used to smooth edges on a piece of metal.


Megan and her cousins were busy with their papier mache class while Russ and I were playing with metal and fire.


They dried their creations before we left the farm.


Since it was dinner time, we stopped for something to eat on the way home.


What better way to end a great, soggy day than with a plate full of onion rings!


I loved the blacksmithing.  Dave won’t build me a forge – I asked.  So I guess I’ll just have to keep looking for more opportunities….Hmmm.  The John Campbell Folk School in NC has blacksmithing classes!!