Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fire Hydrants in New England

How am I going to interest you in the differences in fire hydrants here in the east compared to "easy living" western "no snow" states? I'm sure you already know the living here is more difficult and costly than the "tropics".

Yesterday as I was leaving work I saw a service truck at the fire hydrant outside the residence hall where I spent the afternoon. The service guy was pumping water out of the open hydrant so I stopped to ask a few questions as I am prone to do. I already knew that hydrants couldn't have water in them in the winter months or they would freeze, split and break apart.

I just didn't know how it worked, so he explained that the actual valve that provides the water is located five and a half feet below the surface where it doesn't freeze. The column of pipe above this valve has to be evacuated of water before winter and after each use in winter to prevent the freezing problem. So there he was pumping the extra water out of the top column in all the hydrants. They make these hydrants "break-away" so if they are inadvertently hit by a vehicle, they just break off at the surface and no water shoots skyward. He even gave me a brochure and parts list so I could scan it for my blog. What a nice guy! I don't think he gets inquisitive people very often.

Now... just because you suffered through the explanation of fire hydrants, here are a couple pictures from my picture window and the roof of the residence hall I work in.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Foliage in Maine

Reports say that Southern Maine is at 75%f of color for foliage today. It's gettin real pretty around here and I took these pictures on the way to work this morning and a few more were taken here on the campus of the University of Southern Maine. This example of a Japanese Maple tells it all.

This is what hyderangeas look like when they bloom in spring.

After they've matured a bit they trun this color of pink. I don't know if the sun does it or it's just natural maturation process.

I never saw this kind of hydrangea before, but this one is everywhere around here. They grow BIG!

r><div>Is this Boston Ivy? It makes our school look prestigious, no?

The ducks are over in the other pond, ruining an otherwise good shot at Smiling Farms Dairy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Cumberland County Fair, Maine

It's fair time in New England. This week Eric and I attended our local... and puny I'm told... County fair. I saw some things new to me and some old favorites too.

It rained on Sunday, opening day, and we were too late to see the harness racing where trotters pull the two wheeled buggies. I think you can place bets on them like the horse races I'm used to in Fresno. The track may have been too wet anyway.

It was, indeed, a smal a-"fair" (pun intended) as you can see by the nearly empty main street. So many of the junk food trailers were closed for weather and lack of customers that I could not find a deep fried twinkie or even the normally ubiquitous corndog! What a bust.

No rides were operating and the only noise was a really bad rock band singing off key. But I still loved it.

Eric started our small eating binge with a huge order of french fries which came with hot cheese-like dip and catsup. Maine is somewhat famous... at least in New England... for potato growing, but the boxes thrown out the trailer back door indicated Idaho as their origin. These were huge specimens, but no picture can convey their true size. If you look closely, you can see that they are half the size of Eric's head.

There were big pumpkins which I'm sure aren't the biggest in the country, since our growing season is so short, but they are pretty big. There were squash the same size as the pumpkins, only they were green and resembled a green pumpkin rather than any squash I ever saw.

I'll leave you with something new... a short video of the ox-pull event. These big guys are pulling 2 tons of concrete. As we walked through the draft animal barn, Eric remarked how this looked like a biblical scene.

The big fair, I'm told, is in Fryeburg an hour from Portland. There they have events like skillet throwing (only for women), and logging events like chopping, chainsawing, and bucking.