Sunday, May 31, 2009

Earlier Signs of Spring

Some snaps from earlier signs of spring (from May 8). (Click on the pic for a larger version.)


Friday, May 29, 2009

Tag Sale

Just a reminder that tomorrow is the Friends of the Clapp Library Community Tag Sale.
On a related note, the Friends have raised mucho dollares for the library and will be presenting a donation on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, I took a trip to Shelburne Falls on Monday. Took a few good pictures, and I hope to stick a review up soon -- as soon as I can convince myself to sit in front of the computer long enough. I tell you, it's awfully tempting to leave the computer off all weekend; it's nice to be separated from the screen -- there's a sense of freedom that comes with turning off the computer for a whole weekend....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pictures from the Carriage House

Two weekends ago I took the opportunity to visit the Stone House during its seasonal grand opening. There were vendors of soaps and linens and other such things that I passed by on my way to the Carriage House. Here are a few of the things you will find if you take the time and opportunity to make a visit.

The central figure on the main floor of the carriage house -- this lovely gilded carriage that used to take people to and from the train.

And a beautiful hearse with hand-carved wood and exquisite detailing.

A high-wheeler, or penny farthing, or ordinary. The pedals don't turn in a circle as our bicycles today, but instead work by a pumping motion. See here for more.

Upstairs there are sleighs and baby carriages and tools and this assortment of old looms.

I also have a selection of pictures from inside the old newspaper press building, but those will have to wait until later. If you just can't wait, make a visit to the Stone House Museum on 202, just outside Belchertown center. I haven't made it inside yet, but it's on my list of things to do soon!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Clapp Library Tag Sale

The Friends of the Clapp Memorial Library are hosting a community tag sale on Saturday May 30, from 8-2. Spaces can be rented for $25.
More information can be found at the Friends' of the Clapp Memorial Library website or at the Circulation Desk at the Library. This is a great way to support the library and make a few bucks on the side for yourself after finishing up the spring cleaning.

(PS -- have you been to the library website recently? It's changed!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Local Election Results

Here's the article from MassLive about the Belchertown election results.
Elstein picked up a selectman's seat; Aponte kept his. It was a three-way race for two seats.
Only a 16% turnout in registered voters.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Get Out the Vote

Don't forget to vote at the town-wide election today! All day, at the Belchertown High School. I've been seeing all kinds of things for folks running for Selectman. Take a few minutes and vote!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Speakeasy Music for the 21st Century

That's how Unit 7 defines itself on its website. Last night I made my first excursion out to the Iron Horse (which was a little loud). Yes, my first. The initial reason for going was to hear Roger Salloom, who, after living in Northampton for 29 years, was finally making his debut headlining at the Iron Horse. And he and his band were fun listening -- nice singer songwriter music, with some truly lovely pieces. He has a great history, and I encourage you to check out his website to read it and to hear some of his songs.

But the intro band. Wow -- did I enjoy them! I have been a fan of swing and related genres for ages and ages, having grown up with grandparents who played jazz piano and listened to the greats like Duke Ellington and Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and the like. I used to dance East Coast Swing and Balboa and anything else that came around at the swing clubs in Boston when I lived there. And I guess I didn't truly realize how much I missed the music and dancing of jazz, funk, and blues until Unit 7 started playing last night. Loads of fun, and I recommend getting out to see them -- and maybe dancing a few steps if there's space to do it. A great dance band.

Friday, May 8, 2009

More New Birds at the Feeder

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
I saw this one for the first time today -- absolutely stunning. Mottled black and white wings and back, white underside, red throat, thick yellow beak. What a beauty!
(And this is the page that helped me identify it; thanks, Ray!)

Red-Bellied Woodpecker
I've seen this one now three or four times -- and, surprise!, he doesn't have a red belly. He is a larger woodpecker with black and white body markings and a bright red mullet on his head.

Baltimore Oriole
I've only seen this one in the trees, though I've heard rumours that it has visited the feeder. Early this morning and again this afternoon it was a brilliant orange amidst the white blossoms and fresh green leaves of one of the trees out back. He's a chatty chap.

As our list of avian visitors increases, and as the weather warms enough for us to open our doors and windows to hear their songs, I become more and more appreciative of and fascinated by the wonders of nature. The songs and squawks are magnificent -- for example, the cowbird (who sometimes bathes in my bird bath) has a high-pitched shrill whistle, but also has a song that sounds like a synthesizer glugging water. The description doesn't seem all that attractive, but it's an incredible sound; those cowbirds are very talkative.

Stone House Opening

The Stone House Museum is having it's opening day event tomorrow, May 9, and will be open for the season from May 10-October. Included in the event is a plant sale and an "old" bag sale. The event starts at 10am at the Stone House Museum.

There will also be a plant sale tomorrow at one of the churches on the Common, and I hear rumours that there may be even more. So be sure to get down into the center of Belchertown tomorrow to check out the Stone House and all the plant sales going on.

It's spring! Time to plant!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cardinal in Flowering Tree

On a cloudy day, a cardinal in a flowering tree.
I find cardinals difficult to photograph -- at least the ones at our house -- they tend to be very skittish. I finally tried the zoom feature on my camera to capture the bird in a tree. Not too bad... We have at least two cardinal couples who visit our deck regularly for a meal or snack. Very handsome birds.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I have had the opportunity in recent Saturday mornings to volunteer with the Pioneer Valley Therapeutic Riding Association (PVTRA), a non-profit with the purpose of teaching horsemanship skills to individuals -- children and adults -- with various disabilities, including cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, autism, amputations, and more.

PVTRA has been offering lessons to children and adults with disabilities since 1984 -- that's 25 years! Certified instructors and trained volunteers work with individuals and the horses provided by PVTRA to help them build confidence, self-esteem, patience, and independence through the challenges and rewards of therapeutic riding.

I found PVTRA through a web search when I was looking for someplace to volunteer a few hours a week. Specifically, I wanted to work with animals and meet new people and actually be of use to someone. This week was my second week with PVTRA, and all three of my requirements for my volunteer service have been filled. I have already learned to love the horses, having had the opportunity to curry them and brush them, talk to them, and walk with them. I have met an incredible set of supportive volunteers, an endearing group of kids, and wonderful families taking advantage of the services offered.

I'm sure that as time progresses, I will learn more about the organization, but in accordance with what I know now, the PVTRA offers great opportunities for the following:
  1. People who suffer from physical, emotional, or cognitive disabilities.
  2. People who want to volunteer their time and skills to a non-profit organization.
  3. People who are looking for a worthy association to donate to.
PVTRA can be contacted from the website.

On Saturday, May 9, there will be a horse show to benefit the Pioneer Valley Therapeutic Riding Association. Information can be found on Craigslist or on the PVTRA website under "Horse Show" (see the poster).

Photographs and text copyrighted by Livin' In the Belch blog author, unless otherwise stated.