19 July 2022   1 comment


The last blog entry was in mid-March… I guess I’m just not a daily (or weekly… or monthly) blogger! 

The seasonal tool rotation continues unabated… I got the weed-whacker out to try to control the Common Burdock (a.k.a. wild rhubarb… NOT edible!) by the driveway turnaround (needs almost continuous tending!) and the undergrowth in our peaceful stand of birch trees by the patio.  I put the snow-blower(*) and shovels in the back of the shed, pulled out and prepped the garden carts for the summer (yes, we have two… we used to have two houses!).  We had this year’s gardens cleaned up and prepped for summer by our gardener/horticulturist (they look great), and I power-washed the deck and north side of the house (a fine crop of winter mold and mildew was blasted away). Power-washing in spring has been a yearly ritual for us for years… The north-side vinyl siding of the Massachusetts house needed yearly power-washing, and the north-side wooden deck needed power-washing and staining at least every OTHER year.  Those repetitive chores – plus the occasional need for washing the cars or prep-washing the garage doors for painting – convinced me to buy my own pressure-washer (Sears). Still going strong!

(*) [… and dug the snow-blower back OUT of the shed a few days later to send it off to a summer tune-up and overhaul. It’s a commercial-grade Ariens beast, bought in 2008, that I bought from… and had serviced by… a high-school classmate in our hometown. I took it with us to Maine even though I now use a snowplow service on the 350-foot driveway. Still comes in handy clearing snow from in front of the garage doors and paths around the house.]

We have three squirrel-resistant (no such thing as squirrel-“proof“) “Droll Yankee” birdfeeders that we use all winter (and did at the MA house too).  We go through 10-12 40# bags of un-hulled black-oil sunflower seed each winter, but watching the birds is such a pleasure we don’t mind the expense.  We’re experimenting with tending a single “Droll Yankee Flipper” bird feeder through the summer to keep the birds in close proximity, and the abundance of birds and variety of species is WAY up from previous summers.  The “Flipper” has a rotating bird perch attached to a battery-driven motor that spins when a weight larger than about a blue-jay tries to “perch” on it. Fat blue-jays sometimes trigger it, but squirrels (even the miniature red ones) get flipped off immediately. It hangs off an 8-foot-high corner deck pole (we had every OTHER deck railing post set with 8-footers instead of waist-high ones so we can hang flower baskets up high on long, sturdy, pivotable hangers in summer, and bird feeders in winter). Eight feet up over the deck, which is ten feet up from the ground, means we see unintentional FLYING squirrels on occasion! They learn quickly; eighteen feet of freefall can deliver a bit of a hard landing!

Our major landscaping project this summer has been tackling the overgrown far side of the driveway.  It yearly grew waist-high brambles and weeds, but last fall I discovered a paper wasp nest about the size of a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle hiding in the brambles not far from the shed, so I had an exterminator take it away late one night (supposedly humanely, but how can you really know), and made plans to reclaim the meadow up to our property line.  We had our lawn-mower/driveway-plowing-guy come with a tractor to pull up the roots of the brambles and weeds, sift all the crap out of what was left, haul in and spread 30 cubic yards of new loam, seed it all (the last 10 feet of the lawn to our property line is seeded with pollinator flowers instead of grass-seed – on the other side of the property line it’s still waist-high brambles and weeds).  He covered it all with hay to keep the birds from eating the seed, and now we’re into rotating 4 zones of sprinklers on a daily basis, along with two more zones to try to keep the established lawn from drying up and turning brown.  We’re at 38 days with VERY little rain as of now (less than an inch in total – does that constitute a drought?)… even the healthy established lawn is turning brown without running the sprinklers occasionally. We’re starting to see grass in amongst the hay, so something’s happening.  Thank goodness we’re no longer on a town water supply and paying a metered water bill!  Three cheers for a private well!

Over a year ago now I joined a small cadre of amateur genealogists volunteering at the local Skidompha Public Library In the sister village of Damariscotta (Newcastle and Damariscotta are known in the area as the “Twin Villages”).  We staff the genealogy room on the 2nd floor during a pre-published schedule (1-3pm each Thursday; one person during the summer, two people the rest of the year).  If someone comes in for help, we give them 100% of our attention, helping them to A) find what they are specifically looking for, and B) help them to learn what resources are available, both on-line and off-line (“Give a man a fish…”).  If no-one appears asking for help, we keep the genealogy room tidy, reshelve any genealogy room references that may have been used during the previous week, check that the references are reshelved in numerical order, and develop any genealogy-related displays to help visitors when staffers are not available.  There’s a speedy new networked computer available for patrons (recently replacing a dog-slow antique) that provides free access to the internet, including the two premier genealogy web sites, Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org (NOTE: FamilySearch provides free access to their entire web site from any computer attached to the internet, but Ancestry is a pay-to-use membership service… EXCEPT when you access it from any public library).  I also signed up to take care of the volunteer schedules for the genealogy room (i.e., who’s assigned what Thursday). Mid-month I send out requests for who want’s what Thursday the next month (myself included), build a schedule that fits the requests, then send out the schedule to the group. Next mid-month, I… “do it all again (Amen).”

On June 1st I gave a presentation to the Newcastle Historical Society (me being a newly-minted member) about my efforts to publish a 100-year-old genealogical manuscript, written by Lynn’s great-grandfather, Arthur Orison Taylor. Arthur collected genealogical information from 52 separate surname families on both sides of his parents’ ancestries. I transcribed the typewritten manuscript, verified the genealogical information, edited it, added 74 footnotes and two ahnentafels for both familial lines, and published the book as “A Taylor Double Ancestry.”  The more detailed story of the effort is documented on my TAYLOR genealogical blog (“Taylor” being Lynn’s mother’s birth surname).

Related to that Newcastle Historical Society presentation, I used the society’s presentation projector to display the PowerPoint slides I had prepared, but the projector was not up to the task – text in the sub-bullets was blurry and unreadable, so I sprung for a reconditioned ViewSonic LS810 DLP (Digital Light Processing) Projector, one of those near-screen “short-throw” projectors that can be as little as 5 inches from the screen surface with undistorted images… AND TEXT!  Built-in sound system too!  I’m in the process of building a case for it to protect the device during transit.  I’m going a bit overboard on the strength of the transit case (it’ll need wheels), but I want to make sure the projector doesn’t get damaged when being moved.

Posted 19 July 2022 by Gene Vogt in Uncategorized

Early Spring (Daylight Savings Time Kicks Off Tomorrow)   Leave a comment

12 March 2022

Six-month gaps between blog entries seems a bit like neglect to me, but that’s what my subconscious brain seems to think is a reasonable time between entries.  Ideally, I’d like to be more frequent with my entries… but it is what it is.

Summer/Autumn activities around the Ballot Box slowly morph into Winter/Spring… The garden tools and machinery work their way to the back of the shed, and the snow-removal tools and machinery work their way to the front.  More time spent inside, mostly in front of the computer (scanning old photo negatives, updating and adding to the genealogy database, updating blogs, gathering data for the tax return, etc.) and less time outside.  If I needed the weed whacker right now, I’d have to find it and unbury it from inside the shed!

We finally acted on our long-term goal to become less sedentary… we joined the local YMCA recently and have even started walking the indoor track (only one visit so far, but we just joined!). Time will tell if we can stick to it!  Walking outside is problematic here in mid-coast Maine, especially in the winter as the road we live on has no sidewalks (most roads in Maine have none) and the 35MPH speed limit is A) too fast for old-fart walkers to tolerate, and B) routinely ignored!

The kidney-shaped front-yard perennial garden we built (with our horticulturalist’s consultation and muscle) was finished in time for the previous blog post (see photos), but the front-yard plantings weren’t done yet for the year!  To complement the perennial garden plantings, we added three dispersed shrubs further out in the yard; a lilac bush on the road side of the front yard another 20 feet out from the kidney-shaped garden, a hydrangea in the middle of the yard at about the same distance out from the house, and a forsythia by the driveway. They’re small now, but in time they’ll flesh out and get bigger, with some blossoms and color at appropriate times (click on the “portrait” link in the next paragraph to see the new additions).

With the garden expansion completed for the season, I decided to attempt a 2021 Formal House Portrait to record this year’s progress for posterity, so on the first of October I trotted out my DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera (a Canon EOS T3i) on a tripod and shot a collage of HDR photos of the house and front yard while some of the flowers were still in bloom and the grass was still green and healthy.  Even the sky and clouds cooperated for my portrait!

Our last big property improvement project of the year (unfortunately after the photo-shoot) was completed last October 12th – we had the driveway paved!  Our construction landscaper initially talked us into using “recycled or reclaimed asphalt” for our driveway surface as a cost-saving measure, but that stuff is optimally bad in so many ways.  It’s loose and gets plowed into the lawn during snow season and needs to be raked back into the driveway in the spring (by HAND of course!).  And worse, the pieces get tracked into the house in shoe- and boot-treads and do damage to our brand-new hardwood floors.  We scheduled to get the driveway properly paved within months of moving in, but it took almost a year to get it done!  SO much nicer, with the bonus benefit that ice and snow melts quickly off the sun-warmed south-facing black macadam!  This time of year (March) a six-inch coating of snow will melt off in less than a day… shovel or plow not required!

Our local town micro-brewery (Oxbow Brewing, an easy 5½ mile drive from the house – 3.1 miles as the bald eagle flies) held it’s usually-annual October bash this past fall… the tenth “Goods from the Woods” party in eleven years (the originally-planned tenth annual party in October 2020 was cancelled in deference to COVID).  Held outdoors, limited to 600 attendees (pre-sale of tickets are always sold out) and held rain-or-shine.  They set up temporary beer tapping stations all over the property and through the woods, pump music out over the area from the house up the hill (that can be rented for vacations) and get a dozen or so food trucks on-site. You wander around sampling various beers and munching on food-truck delicacies. A feature of the first few parties (that probably prompted the “Goods from the Woods” moniker for the event) was a keg or two, hidden in the woods, to find and help yourself from… (local law-enforcement put a stop to that a few years ago – no way to manage who the consumers were).  Photos from party #10 from 2021 are on Flickr here (and #9 from 2019 here, and #8 from 2018 here, and #7 from 2017 here, and #6 from 2016 here, and #5 from 2015 here, and #4 from 2014 here, and #3 from 2013 here. Didn’t think to bring a camera to #2, and missed #1 completely!). Photo evidence of the actual unattended kegs in the woods can be seen in 2014, 2015, and 2016.  Kegs in the woods were attended to after that, to verify each imbiber’s age.

Lynn’s family grew up in Lexington MA, but over the years all the sisters and a niece migrated to the mid-coast Maine area, from Portland to Lincolnville/Camden (even Lynn’s mom, after her husband passed away in 1975, was a resident of Camden until her passing in 1998).  We were the last to emigrate to this glorious corner of the planet, and we ended up settling just about in the middle of the various other family landing spots, so we gladly host most family gatherings to ease the commute on others.  We’ve hosted a summer kickoff party on Memorial Day weekend every year since buying the Ballot Box in 2009, and since we’ve become permanent residents in 2019, we’ve hosted a few Thanksgiving dinners (except for the COVID-tinged Thanksgiving of 2020 when the crowd was an optical conclusion). This year we hosted Christmas dinner as well as Thanksgiving. Part of the reason was to make it easier on Lynn’s sister Marcia, who had been fighting a six-year battle with metastatic breast cancer.  Marcia was starting to feel the strain and had diminished energy for such activities, so we were glad to pitch in.  We had a pleasant Thanksgiving with all the trimmings, and an enjoyable low-key Christmas gathering.  Alas, Marcia passed on January 2nd of this year. She leaves a hole that can never be filled, a gap in the continuum. Her obituary is online here, and a gathering of her friends and family will be held in the Maine Woods in June to honor her memory.

We had a bit of a mouse infestation in the fall and early winter, which is not that uncommon, living in a rural and wooded area.  We started seeing mouse-droppings in the kitchen on a regular basis, even though we were catching one or two a night in our low-tech-but-time-tested Victor traps.  The brain wasn’t functioning on all cylinders for a few days, until I started pondering HOW they were getting up into the kitchen, and realized I had a few open cable-runs that ran from the basement to the first floor that had sound-system and network wires (yeah, the house was built in the mid-1800s, but there’s a 21st century geek living here now). Those cable-runs were a private super-highway passageway for the critters!  I jam-packed the extra space in the cable-runs with coarse steel-wool (mice can’t chew through it) and the kitchen visits ceased.  Then I put traps around the edges of the crawlspaces in the lower level, tethered to a random beam with a pinhole drilled into the wooden snap-trap, threaded with thin-but-strong fishing line, then the other end stapled to a beam.  This allowed me to set traps IN the crawlspaces, and when the trap was sprung, if the trap and former mouse bounced further into the crawlspace, I could just haul it back into reach by pulling on the fishing line.  Caught sometimes 2-3 a night that way, with the count slowly receding, until hardly any now.

On the computer front, I started getting curious about Windows-11¹ and how it might affect the usage of my workhorse Dell XPS 8930 tower workstation. I own – and use – more than one computer (the 8930 is my day-in-day-out machine, but I also had two Dell laptops, one running Ubuntu Linux, one running Windows 10 Pro, two Raspberry Pi micro-computers running Raspbian (a form of Linux), a Dell T3500 tower running an old copy of Microsoft Windows Server v2011 that manages our webcams and music server (~3,000 CDs ripped and available for playing on the house sound-system – still own the CDs, just don’t have to go find the CD and play it in a CD player to listen to it).

Only one of my machines (the XPS 8930) was capable of running Windows-11, but I didn’t want to “take the plunge” on my main machine for fear of it being a one-way conversion… no going back if I didn’t like it (yeah… I know they SAY it can be undone, but…).  My windows-10 laptop was a 10-year-old boat-anchor of a machine, bought used from my previous employer, who used to buy us all new top-of-the-line laptops every 3-4 years, and put the old ones up for sale at auction to the employees (after being purged).  Still humming along nicely, but it couldn’t handle Windows-11 either.  So, I decided to take advantage of a Microsoft sale of last year’s model of their ultra-slim, ultra-light Surface™ Laptop Go with Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD. I make use of Windows’ “OneDrive” cloud storage for non-sensitive data, which lets me share certain specified data and connections between my XPS 8930 and the laptop.  The Surface™ came with Windows-10, but was ready for Windows-11, so I updated it first thing, right out of the box.  I used Win-11 for a month or two, got used to it, and decided to upgrade the 8930 to Win-11 as well. Painless.

The Surface™ Go is amazingly thin and light (but sturdy!), so there are precious few ports on it; two magnetic-based power connector ports – one on each side (wiggle the power connector NEAR the port and the magnet makes the connector JUMP into the connector port – kewl!), a USB-C port and a USB-A (3.1) port, and a headphone jack (superfluous if you have Bluetooth™ ear buds). I use the one USB-A port for my wireless mouse transmitter button, and a 4-port USB-A bar that plugs into the USB-C port if I need additional USB-A ports.  Would’ve liked an SD or micro-SD slot for data or photo transfer, but I’m getting along without it so far.  One unique (to me) feature is a POWER-ON switch that is also a fingerprint scanner, so if *I* turn it on it drops right into my logon account quite quickly, but if someone else tries to power it on, it prompts for a password!  One feature I wish it had was a Kensington Lock slot, so I could secure it to furniture in a hotel room or library.

Speaking of libraries (using a slightly awkward segue), I’ve joined a small cadre of genealogists (currently 7) at the local Skidompha library to staff the genealogy room for at least a few scheduled hours a week, to help neophyte genealogists in their quest for information about ancestors and relatives. In addition to our scheduled two-hour “tour of duty” (on Thursdays, 1-3pm) I also do the scheduling for the coming month for the 7 of us.  It’s a lot of fun!  When patrons aren’t visiting with questions, we keep the room organized and well-stocked, set up bulletin boards, and help reshelving materials.  There is a squishiness when the Dewey Decimal System is applied to genealogy, but we make do.

The best part of the job is when a fledgling genealogist comes in on a Thursday looking for help… that’s when the fun really starts! One recent Thursday a patron came in with two specific questions; she was looking for help finding information about her great-grandparents, and also wanted to find out what her grandmother had died of. We were successful on both counts by first finding her great-grandparents and their family in the 1930 Federal Census, which listed not only where they lived (state, county, town, street, and house number) but also the value of the home or monthly rent (in 1930 dollars, of course), everyone’s name living in the dwelling,  their relation to the homeowner, plus age, place of birth, PARENTS’ place of birth, their occupation, AND… whether or not they owned a radio! Her grandmother’s cause of death was found by finding a photocopy of her actual death certificate, listing date, place, and cause of death, birthplace, date of birth, name and birthplace of parents, and removal to what cemetery.

Both of these documents were available – no strings attached – over the internet from either of two main genealogy resource sites; ANCESTRY-DOT-COM (a for-profit corporation that hosts a subscription site that is free when accessed from any public library) and FAMILYSEARCH-DOT-ORG (a free service provided by the not-for-profit Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

Our winter bird-feeding is still going gangbusters.  We have two feeding areas; two shepherd’s crooks in the lawn by the front patio (visible from the dining area window) offering a smorgasbord of avian delicacies for the birds (black oil sunflower seeds, hulled peanuts, mealworms, suet cakes), and 4-5 feeders offering more of the same on the back deck hanging from heavy-duty pole hooks that host potted plants in the summer.  We’ve gone through seven 40-lb bags of black-oil sunflower seeds so far… have an 8th one on standby if needed.  We buy bulk shelled peanuts (not grocery-store quality, not salted!), freeze-dried mealworms, 12-block cases of suet cakes, and occasional “experiments” to see if the regulars like it or if it might draw a new species to our buffet.  We’ve seen all the expected species’; Chickadees, Goldfinches, Titmice, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Cardinals, Bluebirds, Dark-eyed Juncos, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves, Blackbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds (a sure sign of impending spring), Crows and Ravens scavenging on the ground under the feeders, and an occasional Sharp-Shinned Hawk hunting the mice and squirrels – and smaller birds – attracted to the dropped seeds.  Haven’t had a Bald Eagle drop in for bite yet, but they can occasionally be seen in pairs, circling WAY up high (looking for lunch), and when that happens all the birds at the feeders disappear, as do the chipmunks and squirrels!

Winter grilling continues at the Ballot Box, not quite as frequent as summer grilling, but not a scarcity. We mostly stick to steaks and salmon, usually a couple of times a week.  Winter grilling isn’t too hard once you get used to it.  The only “winter-related” extra is you have to shovel a path to and around the grill (not a problem… I have to shovel paths to the birdfeeders for filling anyway) and you might want a jacket. Gloves aren’t necessary (the grill keeps one’s hands warm), and one doesn’t need much ice in the whiskey.  We ran a propane line from the dual 120-gallon tanks out by the garage (feeds the Rinnai propane furnace in the garage) over to the grill on the deck, so I don’t have to schlepp 20-pound grill tanks anymore (I’d go through one of those a week during the summer).  I don’t enjoy grilling in a blizzard (have done it, don’t like it) but flurries are fine, and when it’s clear and cold out you get an added benefit of delightful “dark-sky” views of the dual-spiral-arms of the Milky Way between flips of steaks or sips of single-malt!

One of my more time-consuming multi-winter projects is to scan all the negatives from the SLR photos we took during the time we lived in Germany (September 1991 – July 1995). There are over a hundred rolls of film from that time period, and the Plustek OptikFilm 8200 ai scanner I bought for myself as a retirement gift has been doing yeoman’s work this past winter. To scan a negative (or slide) at high resolution takes about 15-20 minutes per image, but the image quality is phenomenal. I’ve scanned the following photo sets this past fall & winter:

  • England, March 1993 – During a visit by Lynn’s mum (Marga), Lynn, Gene, Marga and Audrey took a 3-day trip to England from Stuttgart. We flew to London, stayed there a day and did sightseeing touristy stuff, then took a train to the premier college-town (Cambridge) to catch up with friends and tour the town, then back to London for a last day before flying back to Stuttgart (Megan was on a school field-trip to Rome for the week).
  • Keukenhof, April 1993-Part 1 – In April 1992 the family took a whirlwind Military-sponsored bus tour of the Netherlands, hitting – among other things – Den Haag, Lisse, Delft, a wooden-shoe factory, windmills… and the Keukenhof, the largest flower garden in Europe, specializing in tulips! We had two hours to explore the 79 acres of the Keukenhof, which included lunch! Lynn and I vowed to return at a more leisurely pace. In April 1993 I had a business trip to Brunssum, so Lynn came with me and after business was done we headed back to the Keukenhof! These are the photos from that visit.
  • Keukenhof, April 1993-Part 2
  • Germany-Austria-Italy Road Trip, August 1993 – After our “Home Leave” in the summer of 1993 (three extra weeks of vacation-time and company-paid-for flights to the states and back to take care of any family and personal business after two years on-site and before another two years back on-site), we came back to Stuttgart with one of Megan’s friends and classmate, Melinda, who stayed with us for about a month before returning home to Woburn to resume her normal life. We did some long-weekend trips for Melinda’s benefit while she was with us, and this was a long-weekend trip through southern Germany into the Austrian and Italian Alps and back. Lots of scenery to absorb!
  • Ireland, February 1994 – In December Lufthansa was having a sale on airline tickets anywhere within Europe. We were able to get four cheap round-trip tickets to Ireland from Stuttgart for the week of the girls’ February vacation at the International School, so we bought them and began planning! I had four goals for the trip; to visit relatives, to obtain a copy of my grandfather’s birth certificate, to buy Irish sweaters for the family, and to buy as many CDs of Irish music as we could afford. I only failed in one goal, to get a copy of my grandfather’s birth certificate, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
  • Stuttgart Theater Center: Wizard of Oz, April 1994 – While we lived in Germany Lynn and the girls got involved with the military’s Stuttgart Theater Center (part of the Morale and Welfare effort), the girls as stagehands and spotlight operators, and Lynn as the costume mistress (won a few awards in the process). I got asked to take photos for publicity usage.

The last bit of news for now is that our ten-year experiment with a limousine-like vehicle is over. I bought a used 2008 Cadillac SRX in 2013 and drove it until a couple of weeks ago. I replaced it with a 2020 Toyota Sienna minivan (we had minivans in the past and liked them a lot).  The Cadillac was starting to show its age… 127k miles and losing engine coolant without a trace (a pint a month, not good; perhaps a head gasket tear, or worse… a crack in the block).  It was time.  The Sienna is still under factory warranty, has 33k miles (a bit high, 16.5k per year), is immaculate inside and out, and uses a lot less gas than the SRX (~24 mpg vs. 14).  The only other thing I want to research is to find out if a tow hitch can be safely installed after-market.

One oddity I discovered left me shaking my head.  I have a preferred “buy American” mentality, which helped me decide to buy – and trust – the Cadillac ten years ago.  Once I bought the caddy, I did a deep-dive search for where the SRX was assembled.  Wasn’t easy to find, but I found it using the VIN… Russia (??!).  Did the same on the Toyota this time again using the VIN… Michigan! Go figure!


1 I’m a Windows and Linux fan, owning no Macintosh™ or Apple™ hardware of any kind (it stems from a subjective distain for companies artificially peddling “exclusivity” as a “rank has its privileges” mindset, suggesting you’re somehow better than everyone else because you own or use an over-priced product – I’ll never carry an American Express™ credit card for that same reason [“rank” does *not* have its privileges]).

Posted 12 March 2022 by Gene Vogt in Uncategorized

Late-September Update   Leave a comment

26 September 2021

It’s been a busy – and WET(!) – few months at the Ballot-Box in mid-coast Maine! We’ve owned this house for twelve years now, and this summer has been wetter – BY FAR – than any of the others. Our lawn is lush, the gardens are happy, even the goldenrod is flourishing in the untended area on the east side of the driveway!

The much-anticipated pre-assembled shed was delivered on the 29th of June, and placed on the pre-prepped “landing” spot next to the driveway turn-around area. Pretty impressive! They were able to maneuver the assembled shed like a feather, placing it within a fraction of an inch tolerance exactly where we wanted it (see a YouTube video of the delivery process here). Once our shed was in-place a licensed-electrician friend (the husband of Lynn’s Maid-of-Honor, oh those many years ago!) came and helped me wire the shed properly for electricity (I had an underground cable installed from the back of the garage to the location of the future shed when the landscaping was being done last spring). Then I had five 4×8 sheets of CDX plywood and fifteen kiln-dried 16-foot 2x4s delivered to make large sturdy shelves across the inside back of the shed to effectively increase the shed floor-space and (hopefully) accommodate all the boxes and “stuff” we had to store (in rented storage space about a mile from the house, AND in MY side of the garage). The empty shelves make the shed look more like a bunk-house, but I’ll have my car under-cover for the winter for the first time in many, many winters! (we got Lynn’s car undercover last year by squeezing all the “stuff” on her side of the garage into my side!)


Garden creation/expansion continued this spring and summer. Our butterfly garden along the front of the house has filled in nicely since it’s creation last summer. The cone flowers (back-center) have had butterflies fluttering around all summer, and the other flowering perennials are pollinator-friendly and apparently appreciated!


We also created a second perennial garden in the front yard, out a bit from the house, easier to view and enjoy from inside the house. It’s a kidney-shaped garden in the front yard with a decorative (and potentially usable) birdhouse on a post, hopefully to re-attract the swallows that occupied the birdhouse that sat on our pre-construction garden picket fence (https://flic.kr/p/nWNiz1). Time will tell. Lynn designed the garden and picked out the plants, Spring River Horticulture built the garden and planted the plants, and I dug and poured the footing (~5 ft. down, below the frost line) and mounted the post for the birdhouse. We’re not enamored with the birdhouse being the same width as the post… perhaps a wider apartment house should replace it. We’ll see….

I gathered some of the webcam noon-snaps and collected them into a stop-action video so the new-garden progress could be viewed much easier… there were gaps of days with no visible progress so I streamlined it to skip over periods of inactivity.


Lynn’s been working on a couple of quilts this spring and summer. One was a baby-quilt in a stylized “fox” pattern for the newest member of the MUNROE side of the family (a grand-nephew born in Montana in June). She also spent a lot of the COVID quarantine keeping busy building other quilts. One was an over-sized (120″ x 102″) king star-pattern quilt (pictured below on the queen-sized bed in the guest suite) that has no as-yet intended destination, and also a stack of small lap-quilts (see further below). Note that each “star” on the star-quilt is made up of ten separate fabric squares (nine in the center of the star, and one off to the side) and eight triangle star points, on a bigger white square. There are 42 “stars” on the quilt (6×7), so that’s 756 separate little pieces of fabric cut up and sewn back together, never mind the white background squares and the border pieces.


We’ve had some vaccinated day and overnight visitors this summer… a former MITRE colleague and his wife stopped by for a few hours during their June vacation in Maine, and some long-time friends and their new rescue-dog came for an overnight visit. My sister and brother-in-law came for a few days as a break from the prepping of their house for sale. Another MITRE colleague and his wife stayed with us for a few days on their multi-destination holiday in July, and a Massachusetts quilting-friend of Lynn’s came up for an overnight visit towards the end of July. Another sister of mine from Colorado came and stayed for a week in September (she stocked up on lobster to make up for her lobster-drought in the West), and a long-time friend who’s an Appalachian Trail volunteer-maintainer (he has a few miles of the trail assigned to him) stops by for an overnight on his way home from occasional grooming trips. A few more visitors may be dropping by in October! Newcomer visitors get driven around the Pemaquid Peninsula if desired, often with a stop somewhere for a lobster roll; tougher to find – but not impossible – in the winter!

(click to enlarge)

Posted 26 September 2021 by Gene Vogt in Uncategorized

Not Much Better With The Timelines, Are We…   1 comment

13 June 2021

I was flagellating myself for a five-month time lag last entry, then I go another four months! Sheesh!

Lets see, what’s happened the past four months… The pandemic seems to be over… anything else?

Oh yeah… I published a book – A TAYLOR DOUBLE ANCESTRY! The what and why is on my TAYLOR GENEALOGY Blog, but the timeline for that started with the scanning of the first of 156 hundred-year-old onionskin pages of text (some typed, some hand-written) on 20 October 2020, and ended with the acceptance (by me) of the “final” finished version (V25), which happened on the 11th of June 2021. The biggest surprise was how hard it was to ferret out all the nitnoid typos and inconsistencies scattered over the pages of the book – some caused by inaccurate OCR-ing of the scanned pages, some caused by inconsistent choices of phraseology by the typist (ME!). There are 216 pages, 61 chapters, 55 tables and 75 footnotes in the book, and all of them have to be accurate in placement, sequence, and references. All repeating generational references have to be consistent, and locational references have to be temporally accurate (e.g., a birth in Salem MA in 1859 would refer to “…Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA,” but a birth in the exact same place in 1659 would refer to “…Salem, Massachusetts, British Colony in America”)… the good old US of A didn’t EXIST until 1775 (July 4th to be specific!). V1-V7 was on computer only, V8 was in a loose-leaf notebook on 8½x11 paper [for red-pen corrections], V9-V13 was back on computer, V14 was back in a loose-leaf notebook on 8½x11 paper [for more red-pen corrections], V15 [and all following printed versions] was printed in A5 paperback size [the intended final format] but without the cover artwork. Two draft copies of V15 – one for me to proof-read with a red pen, one for my OTHER proof-reader [fresh eyes] to take a red pen to. V16 &17 was back on the computer, V18 was printed in A5 format and had the final cover artwork but without the ISBN number. V19 & 20 was back on the computer. V21 (the assumed final version) was printed in A5 format with final cover artwork AND ISBN number. I THOUGHT I was done with V21, until I found some PDF-app-inserted gobbledy-gook in the page headers of 24 consecutive pages, so we had V22 (same gobbledy-gook in the page headers), V23 (discovered page heading errors on 2 OTHER pages), and V24 (an overlooked typo on a chapter heading). V25 looked clean on 3 separate readings, so I pushed the DONE button and released it to the world. My “camera ready” advertisement copy starts off like so: “A man honors his parents (coincidentally, both born with the same surname) by researching their ancestors… sometimes back nine or more generations… capturing 49 unique surnames… with certified heraldic evidence of descent from 13 Earls, 4 Counts, 2 Dukes, 1 Prince, 22 Kings, and 3 Emperors… and collects it all in a manuscript finished in 1923… then dies before publishing. The manuscript is organized into surname chapters, each with descriptive narrative, descent charts, and reference/source notes. The man’s son retains the manuscript after his father’s death, and eventually passes it on to his daughter, who eventually passes it on to her daughter and son-in-law, probably because this son-in-law is ‘…into genealogy.’ Ninety-eight years after completion and 73 years after the author’s death, it’s finally published.” Eastman’s-Online-Genealogy-Newsletter™ reviewed the book here: [https://tinyurl.com/e964k5bj].

On other fronts, the no-extra-charge crabgrass seeds that got mixed in the the huge quantity of loam that was paid for, delivered, and dispersed last summer decimated the hydro-seeded grass we had applied and so sweatingly tended and watered during blisteringly hot drought-like conditions last summer (many 18-hour-days of dragging hoses and running sprinklers to try and save the hydro-seed investment). I’ve battled crabgrass before, so I knew how to prevail… Scotts® STEP® 1 – Crabgrass Preventer Plus Lawn Food. Three bags after the first mowing this spring did the trick, and I have three more bags for a mid-summer treatment if needed. If not, it’ll be next spring’s treatment.

Our first gardens are showing progress (pictures from late last season here). We’ll be starting a new “focus” garden out in the front yard this summer, with maybe a flowering tree and an accessory or two for the focus part. We’ll keep you posted on what we decide.

We’re having an 12’x16′ pre-built shed delivered at the end of the month. I priced out the wood I’d need for a build-it-myself shed of the same size, and the pre-built one was cheaper than just the wood I estimated, never mind the time and effort of building it myself! This will let me finish clearing out MY side of the garage to get my car undercover for the winter (Lynn’s side got cleared out last fall), AND let me empty out the $170/month storage space I rent down the street to keep the not-often-needed-but-not-trash stuff we still have. Saving $170 a month means the shed will pay for itself in less than 3 years! AND… the shed will be sided with the same siding we have on the house (not a perfect color match, but close) and roofed with same-color-as-the-house shingles.

The deck is in full “summer” mode, with the sound-system in full swing, hanging plants hooked up to the automatic 2-minutes-twice-a-day watering system I built into the deck last summer, and the terraced rock garden (click for photo) by the deck waiting for a few missing parts to get a second zone of automatic watering up and running for it. I traded our surplus Rinnai propane furnace for equipment, piping and labor to extend the propane line to the exterior of the deck so the Weber Genesis® II E-410 Gas Grille doesn’t have to have a 20-lb/4-gallon tank be replaced/refilled weekly (we grill a lot). It’s hooked up to dual 120-gallon tanks out by the garage that get auto-filled on a regular basis. The 4-gallon tanks seen in the photo are for the lobster pot boiler/stand [photo from our Memorial Day Weekend Annual Family Lobster Feed, 30 May this year].

We had some serious woods-thinning done a few weeks ago. We can almost see down to the Deer Meadow Brook that is our property line on the deck side. Early spring, when the Deer Meadow Brook is a torrent with snow-melt, we can honestly say we have “waterfront” property – and it SOUNDS like it too!! White-water rafting, anyone??

Our post-COVID life is starting to return. We’ve been out to dinner a couple of times with local friends, and had a pre-announced drop-in visitor (a former work colleague and his spouse) last week. We visited for a while, gave them a tour of the “new” old house, then piled into the “limo” and tootled down the peninsula in search of seafood for lunch! Haven’t done that in a LONG time! It was great! Old friends are scheduled for an overnight visit – with their new rescue dog – this coming week, and then an overnight guest the next week, and another couple booked for mid-July! It’s starting to feel normal again!

Posted 13 June 2021 by Gene Vogt in Uncategorized

Blog Neglect (and other sins)…   2 comments

4 February 2021

Jeez… 5 months of nothing! I could make excuses that during this pandemic we haven’t been doing much of anything, but that’s just what it is… an excuse. Lets do a little catch-up…

In September we had a professional land surveyor (who happens to be married to my second cousin) come and demarcate the property line (to within inches) between our lot and the lot behind us that has a right-of-way over our property for access. We’ve made a few offers to the owner to purchase the lot and reunite the two lots back into the original one (and eliminate the implied threat of activating that right-of-way), but no luck so far. We found that the dividing line is a little closer than we thought. We knew where the survey rods were coming up the hill from the brook, but didn’t know where the line was as it cut across the open (but closing fast with fast-growing white pines) field in front of our house. Turns out we own less of that field than we thought. No wholesale cutting of white pines yet! It gave me a visual of where the to-be-built storage shed needs to be placed to maintain the proper set-back. Disappointing, but better to know than to encroach.

October was quiet. On the techno-front, I initiated weekly backups of the hard drives I have up and running on my workstation in October. My new main machine (purchased about a year ago) is configured with a Terabyte solid-state drive (SSD) for OS and apps [boots in a relative flash, apps fire up almost instantly] as drive C:, then a 2-terabyte SATA (platter) drive for general files, a 2-terabyte SATA drive for digital images, another 2-terabyte SATA drive for general files, an 8-terabyte SATA drive for video storage, and a 2nd 8-terabyte SATA drive for extra online data. It also has two DVD reader/writer drives, one for regular CD/DVD disks, and the other for archival M-Disc platters. So six disks (C: [1TB SSD], E: [2TB SATA], H: [2TB SATA], L: [2TB SATA], M: [8TB SATA], V: [8TB SATA]) need backing up, so I bought six SATA drives of matching size and back up an online disk to an offline disk weekly using a SATA disk dock. Takes six weeks to complete the backup cycle, but everything is backed up (within reason). Any one disk goes six weeks before getting backed up again, but the backup process gets piped over a USB3 port so it’s not as blindingly fast as it might be… an 8TB drive takes ~12 hours to get fully copied. A good task for overnight!

November saw the presidential election (’nuff said) and the start of collecting our annual Christmas gifts to send to the widely scattered great- (and great-great-) nieces and nephews in the family. We started out many years ago giving yearly collectable coin sets to the nieces and nephews, children of our sisters (neither Lynn nor I have brothers, just brothers-in-law). We stop after their 18th Christmas, and start up again when THEY start having children. Kids 12 and under currently get uncirculated coin sets, and kids 13-18 get proof sets. I was always fascinated with coins and collecting them, so we’ve lit that spark in a few of the kids… but not all.

December ushered in the Holiday season in a pandemic way. The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens that we are members of (one of the premier botanical gardens in the entire country) has put on a “Gardens Aglow” display of “Holiday” lights for the past few years, and it’s been spectacular (see here for photos of their 2016 show – the first – and our first of many visits). We missed last year because of the bitter cold, and we expected they would cancel it because of the pandemic…. but no!… It was a “drive-thru” exhibition this year! Stay in your car, follow the signs, keep moving… SLOWLY! Very pleasant. Not quite as pleasant for the driver (keep one eye on the lights, and the other two eyes on the car in front and the car behind!), but still enjoyable! We had a small live tree – a far cry from the giant sequoias we used to set up to fill the cathedral-ceilinged living room in the Woburn house! New Year’s Eve was quiet. We watched our usual DVD of “Dinner For One,” a New Year’s Eve tradition we picked up while living in Germany (1991-5), then tried to watch some of the “Ball-Dropping” shows but it was all Greek to us… we’re too old I guess.

January was MOTS (More Of The Same), not much happening. I hit 68 in January, roasted a boneless prime rib for the party of two, drank some whiskey, and watched TV… like every night. Our local healthcare providers are taking pre-registration for vaccine shots. First wave was healthcare providers, second wave (75 and older) is happening now, 3rd wave (65 and older – that’s US!) is coming soon.

And that catches us up. 2020 was mostly boring, and 2021 is a continuation.

Posted 4 February 2021 by Gene Vogt in Uncategorized