September 2009 Archives

21300397.thb.jpgHow many miles of Concord's hair has Pauline Arms cut, curled and colored over the past 40 years? Surely, something on the order of the distance to the moon and back. At the end of October, Pauline, owner of Russo's Hair Design on Thoreau Street, will be retiring. Hanging up her scissors. Shelving her curlers.  Retiring her color brush. Taking no more trips to that moon!

Soon she will be picking up another type brush for more hours of her day: her paintbrush. Pauline is a delightful painter who often depicts macroscopic views of flowers. A fellow gardener, I've always enjoyed seeing whatever new piece she has hanging on the wall of her shop. Not that any one stays there long -- they are usually quickly snapped up by someone who's fallen in love with the warm, full-of-life images she paints.

And that's much my experience of being Pauline's customer the past few years. She's always warm and full of life, pleasant and down-to-earth as she trims my hair, or magically returns it to its <ahem> natural color. 

Sure, we have zillions of hairdressers in Concord, but Russo's has been the most straight-forward and unpretentious of the lot, which I have valued enormously. Pauline, Grace and Russo have always operated with the utmost kindness and gentleness toward their (often elderly and sometimes frail) clientele.  They each have steady customers they've seen every week for years. The place will be missed.

Contact Russo's during the next month to find out Grace and Russo's plans, and to say goodbye to Pauline.

International Climate Action Day Oct. 24

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By ConcordCAN
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Save the Date -- Save the Future

On Saturday, October 24, 2009, ConcordCAN, along with many other local organizations, will be holding a Regional Energy Revolution Rally at the Old North Bridge in Concord,  site of the opening battle of the American Revolution of 1775. We invite all concerned citizens to participate in this historic event.

This rally is being spearheaded by author and activist Bill McKibben and his group.The event will be one of over 1,000 similar events that will be held around the world to show support for a strong international climate treaty to be negotiated at the December United Nations talks in Copenhagen.

Make history and join us in Concord. Taken together, these combined events will quite likely constitute the largest global citizens' climate rally ever held.

Below you will find up-to-date information on the Regional Energy Revolution Rally in Concord and how you can get involved.

When: October 24, 2009 starting at 2 PM and ending between 3 and 4 PM.

Where: Minuteman National Historical Park, Concord, MA - Adjacent to the North Bridge Visitor Center at 174 Liberty Street, near the flagpole overlooking the bridge. (Directions to North Bridge Visitor Center here)

What to Expect: Speakers, American History Being Made, and Fun!

Speakers: List to Come! Invitations have gone out to President Obama; to national, state and, local politicians; to distinguished scientists, celebrities, and more. Rob Garrity, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN) will serve as our master of ceremonies.

How to get Involved: Go to for more information.

Collaboration: See the growing list of collaborating towns and key town contacts. Acton, Arlington, Ayer, Bedford, Belmont, Beverly, Bolton, Boston, Boxborough, Cambridge, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Groton, Harvard, Lancaster, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Norton, Reading, Somerville, Stow, Sudbury, Westford, and Winchester.

Tastes Like Chicken

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800px-ChickenOfTheWoods2.jpgIsn't that what they say about all kinds of exotic meats? Snake. Crocodile. Ostrich. Kangaroo. Never are they compared to beef or pork, always chicken.

Well, it turns out the animal world isn't the only chicken mimic: the wonderful world of fungi does a great job, too, when it comes to the Sulfur (Shelf) Mushroom, aka, the much vaunted Chicken Mushroom (Laetiporus sulphureus). This is a time of year you might find the Chicken Mushroom fruiting in the Concord woods. 

About 25 years ago, I joined an acquaintance in a yearly ritual, the Boston Myocological Club's jaunt to the autumn woods to hunt mushrooms.  That time it was held in Concord's Town Forest, which was considered prime mushroom territory. We gathered before the hunt, and prior to setting out someone handed around a warm foil packet of SOMETHING, urging each of us to take a piece and pass it along. It exuded an amazing earthy fragrance speaking of woods decaying leaves and primordial mystery, and I bit into the most delicious piece of "chicken" I had ever tasted -- wonderfully infused with garlic, firm, meaty, and full of nuanced flavors I couldn't even begin to guess at.  It took me a while to catch on to what everyone else seemed to already know: this was a piece of cooked Chicken Mushroom.

Last  year, a friend found some Chicken Mushroom, and he kindly shared it with us.  I sauteed and stewed it with garlic (I rarely forget how something tasted even long ago!), and garden vegetables. This wild mushroom is one of a tiny handful I will eat, given how distinctive it is and that there is no other species that it can be confused with.  If you're going to eat wild mushrooms, this is an excellent place to start. And end!

Earlier this week, this generous person left me a voicemail.

683px-AnotherImpressiveGrowth5.jpg"I'm out in [location suppressed] and I'm standing in front of this huge oak tree.  Chicken Mushrooms are all over it! You've never seen anything like it! Call me back, I'm on my cellphone."

I didn't get the message for several hours.  We drove right over to view the harvest: about 12 pounds of gorgeous, bright pumpkin-orange-topped fans of his harvest with gorgeous sulfur-yellow undersides. Much smaller (but more plentiful) in size than last year's catch, their fragrance was heady and enticing.

Wearing headlamps, we then went to the closest entry point of the woods where many more of these beauties would be found.  We walked about a half-mile, up hills, down valleys, along sections of muddy trail, slip-sliding on fallen acorns. We were followed by the eerie voice of a night bird moaning in the woods close by -- first on the right, then left, then right again. Luckily, it didn't seem to consider our fungus collection efforts to be threatening, and we were able to gather our loot.

How gorgeous these mushrooms were! They stretched from the base of this dying tree to over 6', and were around almost the entire trunk. We could see evidence that we had missed an earlier fruit flush. That great harvest had gone uncollected, and had decayed to an ash-like appearance mixed in with the forest floor's litter. The total bounty from this tree from both collecting sessions that evening was at least 20 pounds.

chixmushroomsm.jpgAfraid that these perfect specimens collected in their prime would start to decay quickly (they were damp when collected), I brought home my share and started cooking them even though it was close to midnight.  Chunks from the base of the fans that we sliced off the tree I quickly sauteed in olive oil (with garlic!) and refrigerated, and then made this morning into a vegetable stew (tomatoes, onions, basil, celery leaf and parsley... all from the garden) (these are not shown in photo at right, but were equivalent in volume to about two-thirds of the front platter's contents). I will freeze five or six portions and we will have the rest tonight with pasta.

The medium-sized fans (platter in the front in the photo here), I quickly sauteed, too, and froze for later consumption.  The largest fans (platter in the rear) I poached for three minutes, cooled and also froze. It turns out the poaching water created a beautiful stock, which I used to make a white bean soup,  cooking away as I write this. 

The house smells of that earthy, unforgettable fragrance -- garlic mixed with something ineffable -- that I first encountered all those years ago in the Town Forest where I first found out that the Chicken Mushroom does, indeed, taste just like chicken.

Notes: If you wish to do your own Chicken/Sulfur Mushroom collecting, please read and heed the warning on the page here ( about never eating them if they're growing on coniferous trees.

There are several varieties of Chicken Mushroom. See some beautiful photos and a good array of their forms at the bottom of this page:

Photos: Top two courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.  Bottom, courtesy the author. 

Analysis of Concord's Electrical Peak Hour

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By Dale Cronin, Assistant Superintendent, CMLP

2026942.thb.jpgThe Concord Municipal Light Plant has not sent out any "peak hour" notices for the past several weeks (the ones sent our were published both on this blog and distributed via a Google Groups list).  Unless we receive some sustained and unseasonably warm weather soon, it would appear the "peak hour" has come and gone for this summer. 

Our last notice was a reminder sent out on the morning of August 18th indicating the peak hour might occur that afternoon.  In fact it did during the hour starting at 1 PM, ending at 2 PM.  New England achieved a peak of 25,059,000 kilowatts while Concord peaked at 41,497 during that same hour.  Our all time peak of 44,898 kilowatts occurred on August 2, 2006 between 1 PM and 2 PM.

Early on we said we would try and quantify the results of the Google notification effort after the summer had passed.  Given it appears we are there, and knowing how difficult it is to quantify your fine efforts -- given there is not a legitimate benchmark for comparison as no two days weather-wise and no two days of electrical loads are ever the same -- we offer the following charts for your consideration (click on the graphs to see either of them in a larger format).

cmlppeakweek.jpgThe above graph depicts the five days during the week that the peak occurred.  The peak happened on Tuesday (yellow line) and we sent out notices for Monday (brown line) and Tuesday.  The notice requested that customers reduce electrical use between 1PM and 4PM.  Notice how the electric demand tapered off around 1PM on Monday and Tuesday but not on Wednesday through Friday.  We believe that downward trend is the direct result of your efforts to curtail use.

cmlppeakhr.jpgIn the second graph (directly above), the vertical arrow shows the change in the increasing electrical use trend commences just before 1PM or the time of the requested curtailment while the second arrow estimates the direction the load might have taken without your participation.

It seems clear from the graphs that something influenced Concord's electrical load just before 1PM on both Monday and Tuesday, when notifications were sent out, but not Wednesday through Friday, when notifications were not sent out.  We believe it was you folks who choose to reduce your loads when we asked you to.

While it is clear that quantifying the actual kilowatt reduction is extremely difficult, it would appear our actual demand would have been higher.  The exact reduction would be a guess, but understanding we have attained a demand as high as 44,898 kilowatts, an estimated reduction of 500 - 1,000 kilowatts would not seem unreasonable.  In terms of our Forward Capacity payment to the ISO, the annual savings to the town could be as much as $60,000.

Concord Light would like to thank you all for participating in the Google program aimed at reducing electrical use during the annual peak hour.  We believe the program this year was a great start and we hope, with your support, to continue and expand participation next summer.


Concord Resident Missing

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By Deputy Chief Paul Macone, Concord Police Department

Richard Nethercut was last seen late Saturday afternoon (09-19-2009) and has not been heard from since.  Mr. Nethercut owns and operates a 2001 Ford Taurus sedan, MA Reg 3547WK, color red, which has not been found either.  Anyone with any information regarding the whereabouts of Dick Nethercut, or any information at all regarding friends he may have that
we are not aware of yet, etc. please call the Concord Police at (978) 318.3400.  The missing person flyer is below.

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3 Awards for Emerson Umbrella's Theater Group!

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Hearty congratulations to The Producers cast and crew and to the Emerson Umbrella!  Earlier this week, they won three DASH (Distinguished Achievement and Special Honors) awards from the Eastern Massachusetts Association of Community Theaters (EMACT).  They were:

  • Best Supporting Actor in a Musical (Kevin Shancady)
  • Best Sound Design in a Musical (Jimi Two Feathers)
  • Best Ensemble of a Musical (the cast of The Producers).
This is not just a wonderful achievement on the face of it, but an even greater one when we reflect about just how new this group is.  (List of the nine nominees up for this award is here.)

Below -- Standing from left: Priscilla White Sturges, Morwen Two Feathers, Steve Lyne, Ken Golner, Stephen Sorkin, Betsy Yamron, Jake O'Hara, Alexander Witham, Michael Merullo, Shawn Paulling, Lisa Dempsey, Katie Donovan, Kevin Shancady. Sitting: Julia Meyerson, Julia Fiske, Carrie Flood, Jimi Two Feathers, and Brad Huntress. (Photo courtesy Emerson Umbrella)


We're Back!

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22063361.thb.jpgNot that we intended to go for three weeks without posting her, but that's what happened.  Life just kept happening, we got distracted, and well... what can we say? At least we're back now.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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