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Where We Live by John Silveira and Richard Blunt. Photos and commentary from Oregon and New England.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Looking for Signs of Spring and Bald Eagles

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Eagle Rock

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Several month ago, thanks to the generosity of my “Where We Live” associate and long-time friend, John Silveira, I became the proud owner of a Canon 400 millimeter prime telephoto lens. I think he was weary of listening to me weep and moan about the difficulty I have photographing birds on the wing without a telephoto lens. However, with the weight of this lens (about 8 pounds) and its specific light requirements, it took two weeks and about 200 practice shots for me to learn how to use it. Unfortunately, after completing this learning period, winter settled in on the East Coast, grabbed it by the throat and held tight. We are approaching the end of March, and the beginning of spring while in the grip of record-breaking cold and snow.

Photographing bald eagles as they breed and hunt along the banks of the lower Connecticut River is prime during the month of March. Twenty-one inches of ice and a three-foot snowpack made getting close enough to snap photos impossible, even with a telephoto lens. So last week I hit the road looking for signs of spring and a bald eagle to photograph.

I found what I was looking for while driving along Route 66 in central Connecticut. This eagle has been sitting  proudly on the eastbound side of the road since 1989. The rock was given a facelift in 2001, and reflective paint was used for the eagle’s eyes.When driving by at night, motorists are greeted by a glistening eagle eye peering at them from the side of the road. On the day of my visit in late March, winter was very much in evidence, marked by the snow cap on the eagle’s head.

The owner and publisher oBackwoods Home visits frigid Connecticut.

Dave Duffy and his wife Ilene drove cross-country visiting friends and family this past month, and decided to spend a weekend in Connecticut. He and I grew up in Boston, and he was also at a loss for why this winter was still so much in evidence. As we walked along the Farmington River near Kolp Gardens it started snowing. The somewhat milder weather in Oregon has softened him up a little, so we headed back to the car.

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Visiting friends who know how to survive a long winter

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My friends Tom and Debbie Fausel live in a large house and have been refinishing it for several years. The house sits in an open area surrounded by 22 acres of woods. Heating costs, even during a normal winter, can be painful. Tom read a Central Boiler advertisement in Backwoods Home Magazine and decided that it was the answer to his heating problem. He ordered a unit and installed it himself. The unit supplies all of their heat and hot water. It also heats a large in-ground swimming pool. This winter has proven the wisdom of his decision. Dave and Ilene were impressed with the precision of Tom’s work.

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My search for spring continues in Boston

Dave and Ilene were leaving Connecticut for Boston the next day. Dave suggested that since the weather would probably improve later in the week, Tricia and I could join them and pay a visit to our Webmaster Ollie.

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No spring in Boston

The mountains of snow that were deposited on Boston this winter were gone, but cold and wind were still there. The wind was blowing so hard that it caused an eerie and very loud howling sound from the Prudential building, shown below. The cold winter weather also lingered over the drained Duck Pond in the Public Gardens.

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A beer and a good lunch in Copley Square saved the day.

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The search continues back at home — the first signs of spring arrive in my favorite place

My friend Carl, the professional farmer at Krell Farms, conditions the soil of the Community Gardens for spring planting. The day after we returned from Boston, Carl called to inform me that he was on his way to Kolp Gardens to plow, lime, and fertilize the soil in preparation for spring planting. This was my first sign that, in spite of the cold weather, spring was not far away.

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The plowed fields are ready for the town surveyors, who will map the individual plots.

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Below is a couple that have walked these fields for over 70 years in search of artifacts left by the Tunxis tribe that lived in this area during the 1700s. They systematically explore nearly every inch of the fields every spring and fall after the farmers plow. They are a welcome assurance that spring is close.

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Spring is alive at Krell Farms. Below, Carl shows us a small section of his seed cultivator that will produce the vegetables, fruits, and other plants that he cultivates in the many fields under his care.

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A healthy and thriving greenhouse at Krell Farms

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Carl is not a part-time farmer. Farming provides a living for him and his family. Now that spring is showing signs of visiting the Farmington Valley, I will be following Carl to learn how he and his family make this farm a success every year. If all goes as planned, I will share what I learn with the readers of Backwoods Home Magazine.


Boston Common–America’s First Public Park

Friday, May 31st, 2013

My wife Tricia and I spent Saturday, May 18, at two wonderful, must-attend events. At 3pm on that day, my son, Michael, graduated from Salem State University. After the graduation ceremony we had a brief family celebration. Tricia and I then drove to the shore to attend a reunion of 124 old friends that I grew up with in the Franklin Field Housing project in Dorchester. This is one of Boston’s largest and most diverse neighborhoods. Spending a day with best-loved friends and family is a joy that we will remember for many years. Whatever the occasion, it is impossible for Tricia and me to spend time in our home town without visiting at least one of our favorite places. After the reunion, we spent the night at the hotel and left the South Shore at 6:30 Sunday morning. We headed for two of our favorite places: Boston Common and the Public Garden. It was a bright sunny day, and we knew from past experience that the traffic in Boston would be minimal. The Common does not get busy on Sunday until about 10 am. This gave me an opportunity to snap a few photos for this post. We arrived in Boston at about 8:30 am and parked the car on the corner of Beacon Street and Charles Street, and walked up Beacon Street toward the State House. Parking this close to the two parks would not possible on any other day of the week. We walked around the Common on the broad path inside the park that runs parallel to the four main streets that surround it. Below is a picture of my youngest son, Michael, after accepting his degree. My daughter, Sarah, took the shot on her cell phone.

Michael graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts from Salem State University.  The red nose is a leftover prop from his last stage performance at Salem State.

The next Cary Grant on his way to the Big Screen

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The Boston Common

Founded on a small 789-acre peninsula in 1630 by Puritans from England, the city of Boston has more than doubled to its present size due to land reclamation efforts. Boston is a city of many firsts. Among them are this nation’s first public school, the first subway system, and the first public park—The Boston Common. This popular park, also called “the Common” by Bostonians, is part of the Emerald Necklace, a seven-mile-long string of connected parks and parkways designed by the founder of American landscape architecture, Fredrick Law Olmsted.  It was initially used as a military training ground for British troops before and during the Revolutionary War, and then as a cow pasture by local families until this was banned in 1830.

Today the Common is used exclusively for recreation. There are several broad walkways where folks can escape the bustle of the city and stroll for relaxation and exercise. It is not unusual to see a political protest or a voting drive taking place during a visit. The Common consists of 50 acres bordered by five of Boston’s busiest streets: Tremont Street, Park Street, Beacon Street, Charles Street, and Boylston Street. Next door to the Common, across Charles Street, is the Public Garden, the first public botanical garden in the United States.


The land was purchased by Boston’s citizens for 30 pounds from Reverend William Blaxton, the first European to settle in Boston.


In the background is a view of Boston’s financial district and downtown shopping area that runs along Tremont Street. In the foreground is the large Boston Common open space that runs along Charles Street.


The Balloon Lady

As we walked toward the State house, Tricia noticed a man selling balloons, and thought that she might buy one for one of her special needs students that loves bright colors and balloons. She went over to the man to inquire about the price. He told her that she could have one for free if she would watch his stand while he went to see a man about a horse. So, we spent the next half hour selling balloons. This type of friendly and relaxed behavior is the norm in the Boston Common on a warm spring day. Unfortunately, sales were slow on this morning.


The Boston State House

Called the “Hub of the Solar System” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, the State House at the summit of Beacon Hill is on a lot which had been a cow pasture owned by John Hancock.


The Shaw Memorial

Across the street from the State House is a magnificent bronze sculpture, the Shaw Memorial. It is in honor of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Colored Regiment. This was the first in the Union Army made of free black soldiers during the Civil War. Colonel Shaw was shot and killed while leading the 54th in a failed attempt to capture Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina.



The Frog Pond

The Frog Pond is famous for its winter skating program, but to Bostonians it is the heart of the Common all year. In the winter, skaters glide and twirl on the refrigerated ice as lively music fills the air. In the spring and summer it becomes a peaceful reflecting pool and great place for a picnic. Children from all over the city play and splash in the spray pool under the watchful eyes of parents and the two bronze characters shown below.



On weekends, weather permitting, local residents gather to receive  instruction and practice Tai chi.
This group was here for more than an hour.


The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument near the Frog Pond
was designed by Martin Milmore and dedicated on September 17, 1877.



The Mine Sweepers Memorial

After the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, the U.S. Mine Squadron One was directed to mine the 250-mile-wide entrance to the North Sea. In a very short time, 56,000 mines were launched. This mining operation was very effective and quickly rendered the German U-Boat a less productive weapon.



Park Street Church

Park Street Church was erected 1810. The church was made famous by its strong oratory. In the early days, Park and Tremont Streets became known as “Brimstone Corner.” On July 4, 1829, William Lloyd Garrison delivered his first anti-slavery speech at this church.


Before heading home we just had to visit the Public Garden and watch the Swan boats for a while.


Mrs Mallard and her ducklings are still the star attraction.


Connecticut’s most popular park —Hammonasset Beach State Park

This park is one of the first public parks to open in Connecticut. It was open to the public on July 18, 1920. This first season attracted over 75,000 visitors. I believe that it is the largest public beach in this state with two miles of open beach front.  I will return to this beach during the summer to gather more details and photos. Our fascination on this visit was not with the beach but with one of its flowering residents. Another teacher at Tricia’s school told her that the beach roses were starting to bloom on this beach. The decision was made the next morning and we headed to the shore.

This photo was take from Center Beach.


The Beach Rose, a.k.a Rosa Rugosa, is a species of rose native to Asia, where it grows on the coast, often on sand dunes. This flowering shrub  can be found in numerous areas on the East Coast. We have seen it flourishing on many Cape Cod beaches, and were delighted to find it growing on the Connecticut shore.



John Silveira’s Novels

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

If you came to this page looking for John Silveira’s novels, please use the links, below, for the Kindle and print versions at

If you prefer to purchase the print version(s) by check:

To order one book, be sure to indicate which book you want.
Cost: $19.90 ($14.95 + $4.95 S&H)

Get free shipping on the second book if you order both.
Cost: $34.85 ($14.95 + $14.95 + $4.95 S&H)

Please make the check payable to John Silveira and mail to:

John Silveira
PO Box 1646
Gold Beach, OR 97444

Danielle Kidnapped: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Ice Age

Click Here for the Kindle version. $8.95

Click Here for the Print version. $14.95

Also, check out the Danielle: Kidnapped Facebook page.

  Danielle Kidnapped by John Silveira
The Devil You Know

Click Here for the Kindle version. $8.95

Click Here for the Print version. $14.95

  The Devil You Know by John Silveira


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