Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rockin’: My Latest Project’s Inspiration

Our family has been holding reunions every other year for at least the last 10 years. We generally alternate between three sites; my sister, Mary’s, house in Esko, Minnesota, my sister, Jane’s, farm in Portsmouth, Rhode Island (Jane is married to Louis, the last dairy farmer on Aquidneck Island (which seems like a nice rural sounding place until you learn that Newport is at the south end of Aquidneck Island)), and our house in Lake Forest Park.

This year family reunion was held at Jane and Louis’ farm. Several years ago they purchased a piece of property across the road from their farmhouse. They use most of the land for a cornfield, but it also contains an old, no longer used church and what used to be the fellowship hall next door to it. The fellowship hall was a deteriorating structure that has been marvelously remade into a four room bed and breakfast with the liberal application of funds. The family spent the week in the B & B this July in a sort of intense focus group. That wasn’t our original intention, that’s just the way it turned out.

Escobar Farmhouse Inn has a feature that I have always wanted in a house, a large, wide, wraparound porch good for sitting sheltered from the sun/rain/whatever New England throws at you. The porch faces Route 138, one of the two main roads running north/south on the island. It is a four lane road that carries an amazing amount of traffic. That traffic results in quite a bit of noise. In talking with my extended family, most of us were bothered by the noise. The majority of traffic noise is actually caused by tire contact with the road, though there is also exhaust noise and various rattles and bangs to contend with as well. Tire noise is generally high frequency, very directed noise. If you could interrupt the path of the noise, things would be much quieter. Properties all up and down Route 138, right across the street and the one directly north of the Inn are all lined with dry stone walls. In fact, the east end of the corn field and part of the Inn’s lawn are bordered by an old stone wall. In consultation with Diane, my ever-enthusiastic and generous spouse, I offered to continue that dry stone wall across the front of the lawn in front of the Inn, a distance of about 70 feet.

Because I had already scheduled my three-month sabbatical from Cisco for August, September, and October, I knew that I would have the time for a project of this magnitude. I knew I’d be here for at least two weeks and that I didn’t want to rent a car for that long, so I decided to combine two of my favorite activities, a road trip and building a stone wall.

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About Me

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.