Uncle Bob's Puzzle Corner | Uncle Bob and Aunt Claire's Place

Meet the Meads

Bob Mead and Claire Schmidt married at Christmastime in 1972 in their hometown of Bristol, Pennsylvania, on the Delaware River north of Philadelphia. Three days later we relocated to northern New England and, in a short while, to Haverhill, New Hampshire, where we have lived for almost 40 years. Haverhill is pronounced with a long ‘a’ and no ‘h’ for hill, and that gives it a peaceful-sounding flow, which is apt for a quiet town on the Connecticut River which borders with Vermont. There is a larger city of the same name in Massachusetts, and we have met a person from Haverhill, England, and that nation we suspect must’ve had a role in these New England town names.

What does Haverhill mean? Obviously, we have a hill on which there is(are) some haver(s). A haver can mean three very different things. The Scottish use the word for a type of goat and a type of oat (which the goats are fond of?), and some dictionaries even say ‘wild oat.’ The English use the word to mean a place to waste time gloriously, or as Claire’s dad used to say, dilly-dally. In all these years, we have noticed little havoc in Haverhill, so we think the Brits pre-named this place correctly.

We are career teachers (which you can probably tell from almost everything you read here), but we want to use this space to tell you what we like to do in addition to teaching young people. We do a lot together. Our favorite summer things are tennis, canoeing, and gardening. You can email us if you want the tennis information about our two outdoor courts. We have a choice of many ponds and lakes in which to paddle, but our favorite place is the old meandering river. You can spend all day touring the oxbows, smelling the river mud (worth the price), and surprising eagles, egrets, and herons.

We walk the back roads, and that’s fun all the year round. Bob puts on his waffle-stompers and looks for slush or mud puddles. On icy walks we concentrate on keeping Claire upright.

Star-gazing is another hobby that is just natural to take up. We like to pile into the hammock on clear nights (winter too, if it's above 10 F), and watch for meteors. We reacquaint with some special objects we’ve come to know, such as the Andromeda galaxy, star clusters and nebulae. We are situated in town and on a lit highway, but we can find dark areas out back. We've noticed that the sky has grown lighter over the years, and it is because many people and businesses have put up outdoor lighting. We all need to solve this problem because we are losing a valuable resource. Read “The Sky We’re Losing It” and visit the International Dark Sky Association, aka IDA.

We also like to cook from scratch and enjoy a relaxed meal. We put some of our favorite recipes on this site. Bob likes to keep a sourdough starter going at least through the winter.

One more interest Claire and Bob share is music. We sing in a regional choir called the North Country Chorus directed by Alan Rowe of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. We usually sing three concerts each at Christmas and in the spring. For a couple of years now, Bob has led the chorus in light summer concerts. Every December we have a big party with a ham and side dishes that guests have brought. After visiting and eating, we sing Christmas music for a couple of hours. We have celebrated Christmas in this way for over thirty-five years.

We have a few interests which we share with one another, but which we count as individual. Claire is a substitute church organist, and with that she can be as busy as she wants. She is an avid fan of children’s literature and rarely misses an annual Children’s Literature Festival in October, in Keene, NH, devoted to the creators of same. Bob’s main discipline is mathematics, but he likes to read and write as well. For seven years he wrote a monthly column for the Behind the Times, based in Bradford, Vermont. It included topics from recreational mathematics and gave readers a puzzle or problem to solve. He has had published articles on math, math education, and astronomy. He and Claire now web-publish a subscription monthly full of logic and word puzzles. For a sampling of same: Uncle Bob's Puzzle Corner


Uncle Bob's Puzzle Corner | Uncle Bob and Aunt Claire's Place