Quit Whining About The Cold

Hi Joey,

I was at Sawyer Free Library the other day looking of historic photos and flipped open a book that landed on this page. It struck me as funny because I realized immediately that these kids were skating on the harbor. I asked myself  “How cold does it have to be, for what period of time, to freeze Gloucester Harbor (salt water mind you) to a thickness hard enough to skate on?” 


A little research led me to a volcanic eruption in Alaska in during June of 1912 that formed a new volcano called Novarupta, lasted 60 hours and spewed 3.6 cubic miles of magma and 4.7 cubic miles of ash into the atmosphere.  This eruption was 30 times more powerful than the eruption at Mount St. Helens and may have caused a mini-ice age that lasted a few years due to the ash cloud covering the planet in a fine layer of dust that reflected more sunlight back into space. 

What really put a smile on my face was that these kids are smiling! It must have been pretty darn cold for a while, but they were happy to be outside enjoying the cold.

If you want to see this photo, head to the library! Show this photo to one of the librarians, and you’ll be shocked at how quickly they’ll be able to find it.  While you’re there, get a library card and think about making a small donation to help make this wonderful resource even better!

Bill O’Connor
North Shore Kid
Where North Shore Parents and Resources Connect 




My Archnemesis- Popcorn


When did it all go so wrong for me and popcorn?  I used to be able to pound down buckets of popcorn in my youth but now that I’m old as a mofo it seems I can’t eat two handfuls without getting fifteen kernels all stuck under my tongue, in between my teeth, all over the damn place.

Damn you popcorn.

Birds of Cape Ann: Divers or Dabblers and the Green-winged Teal

Female Green-winged Teal -- ©Kim Smith 2013.Female Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) 

While filming at Henry’s Pond in Rockport I at first thought I was seeing a pair of pint-sized, or immature female Mallards amongst a mixed flock of full grown Mallards and American Black Ducks. But no, upon closer examination, their behavior was different from that of the much larger Mallards. They stayed together, the two females, foraging for food along the pond’s edge. When one flashed her brilliant emerald green wing, I realized it was no Mallard but the beautiful Green-winged Teal.

Female Green-winged Teal ©Kim Smith 2013Like the chubby little Bufflehead, the Green-winged Teal is similar in size, about 13-15 inches in length.

I find it interesting that, based on their style of foraging, ecologists assemble waterfowl into several groups.“Dabbler” ducks skim food from the surface, or feed in shallow water by tipping forward to submerge their heads (which is exactly what I had observed while filming the petite Green-winged Teal). “Diving” ducks propel themselves underwater with large feet. A few dabblers may dive, but for the most part, dabblers skim.

Dabblers that we see in our region include Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, and Northern Shoveler. Diving ducks are the Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Ruddy Duck, Masked Duck, and American Wigeon.

A third category, which includes Buffleheads are called “seaducks.” American Black Duck, Eiders, Scooters, Harlequin Duck, Oldsquaw, Goldeneyes, and Mergansers are encompassed in the seaduck group. Read more about Dabblers vs. Divers here.

Male Mallard, Female Mallard Green -Green-winged Teal ©Kim Smith 2013.

In the above photo of a male and female Mallard in the foreground, and Green-winged teal in the background, you can see how close in color are the feathers of the females of the two species. The wing pattern is subtly different and you can also see the difference in size between the two species.

*   *   *

I have been organizing research and lots of photos for our Birds of Cape Ann series. Upcoming stories will feature songbirds, including Mourning Doves, American Robins, and Northern Cardinals, shorebirds of every size and shape including dabblers, divers, and seaducks, and I’ve planned a post just on bird food to grow in your gardens to attract our fine-feathered friends. As I often remind my readers, “When you plant, they will come!”

Green-Winged Teal, Birding Center, Port Aransas, TexasMale Green-winged Teal image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Birds of Cape Ann: Buffleheads

Coyote Capture

Today was the third day in a row that I have spotted a coyote at high noon. Three different North Shore towns, three sightings. This time I had my camera with me and it was easily accessible. In the new literature on living with coyotes that I have been reading, there is a great deal of misinformation. The first myth that should be dispelled is that they are nocturnal!

If you spot a coyote and manage to capture a photo of it, send in the snapshot and we will post it here. Email to kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com

Coyote Massachusetts,canis latrans ©Kim Smith 2014Coyote (Canis latrans)

The three locations are: Tregony Bow, Rockport; Grapevine Road, Hamilton; and  Mt. Pleasant Street, Gloucester.

St. Johns Prep Students Lend a Helping Hand at The Open Door


sjp open door 3

From Left to right~ BJ Mohan, Aidan Breen, Daniel Powers

The Open-Door staff greeted the students and I with open arms today. This truly is an amazing place. Everyone who walks through the door, patrons and volunteers, are greeted and cared for with respect and love. They have an amazing team of dedicated people working year round to keep things running smoothly.  Upon our arrival, a short list of jobs awaited the boys and an apron for me!

The boys  quickly began working together unloading shipments of food and restocking shelves. As I prepared a light afternoon snack for school children and assisted patrons at today’s open market. It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to share a few quick recipes using todays market ingredients with shoppers!   Thank you, Sarah Grow, Julie Hazen Lafontaine, and Beth Klinefelter for the last minute arrangements. It was nice to SJP students working together as a team helping others on a day they and their school community felt helpless themselves. I highly recommend volunteering some time to The Open Door. At this pantry there can never to many hands in the kitchen!

sjp open door 2014 1



Fish on Fridays

The Fish on Fridays series is a collaboration between Gloucester photographers Kathy Chapman and Marty Luster. Look for various aspects of Gloucester’s centuries-old fishing industry highlighted here on Fridays.

Rods and reels in off-season waiting for warmer weather.





Photos © Kathy Chapman 2013


Our Christmas present from my family

Roomba 770 removes dirt, dust and pet hair on its own. It features Dirt Detect™ Series 2 technology to concentrate cleaning in the dirtiest areas and a Full Bin Indicator that lets you know when the bin needs to be emptied. Using iAdapt® Responsive Navigation Technology, Roomba thoroughly vacuums the entire floor, including hard-to-reach spots under furniture. Dual HEPA air filters stop fine dust from circulating in your home.

GHS DECA Competition Success!!!

Hi: Yesterday 43 GHS Marketing DECA students competed at our district conference along with 800 students in our region.  In this competition students must either come up with a creative project on a marketing/business topic and either write a paper ( 30 pages)  and present it or, take a 100 question exam and do a role play with a business professional (judge) using the knowledge and skills they have gained since September. They did an awesome job, and represented Gloucester with the utmost in professionalism as they usually do. Here is a list of the students who have qualified for the state competition held in Boston in March:  Please congratulate them if you see them.  A special thanks to Chris Kobs for not only chaperoning but using his past DECA experience and professional advice to help guide some very nervous students.  He also took the attached photo.

Sam Bevins: Professional selling
Jared Marshall: Professional selling
Jason Erwin Professional Selling
Catherine Movalli: Hospitality Sales
Joshua Lane: Restaurant Managment
James King: Business Financial Management
Mike Burbank: Automotive Services Marketing Management
Ethan Lally: Sports & Entertainment Management
Sara Roberts: Quick Serve restaurant management
Caitlin Powers: Sports & Entertainment promotion plan
Anna Gray: Fashion Merchandising promotion plan
Gloria Kabulo: Fashion Merchandising promotion plan
John Curcuru, Jack Goss, & Drew Luster: Financial Literacy promotion plan Team


Chicken Stir Fry



The men in the family requested chicken stir fry for dinner a few days ago. When ever I think of Chicken Stir Fry I think of cooking with my roommates during my college years at Merrimack.  Chicken Stir Fry is  an affordable meal that can easily be stretched to feed a small army of people. It was a meal we prepared at least once per week for everyone in our apartment building!

Chicken Stir Fry

Rice Ingredients

3 cups water

3 tablespoon salted butter

3 cups white rice (brown rice may be substituted and cooked to your liking)


Chicken Stir Fry Ingredients

8-10 chicken tenders

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup warm water

6 tablespoons chili oil

3 tablespoons pure sesame oil

1 red pepper; cut into bite-size pieces

1 orange pepper; cut into bite-size pieces

6 scallions; White parts diced; green parts reserve

2 cloves garlic; thinly sliced

1/2  teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 cups fresh snow peas

1 large can pineapple  rings with juices; cut into pieces

Sauce Ingredients

3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 heaping tablespoons ketchup

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon chili paste

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

3 heaping tablespoons dark brown sugar

3 garlic cloves; roughly chopped

1 tablespoon ground Ginger

reserved chicken marinade


1 bring 3 cups water and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter to rolling boil; add dried white rice; stir; cover pan tightly with lid and turn off heat

2 Combine soy sauce and cornstarch in Ziploc bag; shake and mix well until light brown marinade mixture comes together; add chicken tender pieces to bag; seal bag; refrigerate at least one hour


3 combine 3 tablespoons chili oil and sesame oil in large fry pan; heat over high setting


4 add chicken tenders; cook 3 minutes; (reserve marinade in a Ziploc bag) turn chicken tender pieces; cook additional 3 minutes; remove chicken from pan; cut into bite-size pieces


5 in small mini chopper combine all sauce ingredients; add reserved leftover marinade from Ziploc bag; Blend well; reserve


5 add 3 tablespoons chili oil; peppers, white scallion pieces, garlic slices and freshly ground pepper to fry pan sauté four minutes


6 add reserved sauce to pan; mix well; cook four minutes; scrape ingredients from bottom of pan with metal spatula if necessary


7 add snow peas, pineapple and pineapple juices to pan; mix well; continue to scrape bottom of pan loosening any ingredients; cook four minutes over high heat



8 arrange cooked rice in large serving bowl; top with stir fry mixture


9 roughly chop reserved green parts of scallions and sprinkle over top of stir fry; serve


Love gardening? Eager to get involved in community work?

Love gardening? Eager to get involved in community work?
Join Backyard Growers for the 2014 growing season as a volunteer Garden Mentor! Garden Mentors are an essential part of our program to ensure our participants are getting the support they need to become successful vegetable gardeners! Intermediate gardening experience required; low time commitment; big community impact! Mentor training provided on February 22. For more information and to apply visit http://capeannfarmersmarket.org/backyard-growers and click on “Become a Mentor” or call Anna at 610.220.9823. Deadline to apply is Feb 1st.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you so much for your help!