Wednesday, August 16, 2017

TS Bargain Hunting

Admittedly, I am a thrift store (TS) addict. (We all have some of those.). I not only donate to, but also frequent and shop in ones here in Nashua, NH. Several times, Grenville has said he didn't feel like going. That's when he's found something he could actually use. Not because, as we well know, there's anything we ever really need. It's just fun to look and shop without spending a lot of $.

My goal whenever I go to a local TS is to buy at least one item, because why leave empty-handed. It's not always something for us. And, that's the fun part. 

Often, I look for something to give/send. (The mailing is always more than the purchase cost, but no matter.) It's my belief (maybe yours) that everyone likes a surprise, especially when it's not their birthday or a holiday — it's a just because occasion. 

This little sign was just such a find. It's already been sent to a longtime friend who has battled various health issues in the past couple of years. 

She completed chemotherapy a couple of weeks ago and she is definitely braver, stronger and loved.

Wait. It wasn't my only TS find last week. Here's something else I bought for less than a dollar—99 cents (no sales tax here) and with a lifetime guarantee—but whose lifetime?

Maybe it was one of those "as seen on TV" deals, but the box didn't indicate that. Grenville checked online and found it offered on Amazon at $5.99. Score a deal !
The packaging indicated that this it's an easy-to-use kitchen tool, noting (several times) that no cords or electricity were required, thus making it "safe and convenient." When I tried this whisking wonder on eggs, Grenville laughed as I showed how pushing on the top could help me "cook like a pro."
Later, it was time to try it to whisk a mayo and yogurt dressing for a broccoli salad.
NOT only did it work very well, but was far easier than using a short hand-held whisk. (We own many lots of whisks in varying lengths, doesn't every chef? Even the at-first skeptical Grenville conceded it's a kitchen tool "keeper."

How about you —  do you shop at thrift stores, flea markets, yard or estate sales? 
If so, have you found any interesting, useful or just plain fun-to-have (or share) deals? 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Home Town Win

It was a big event Saturday night at the local ball field, Holman Stadium in Nashua, NH. 

We cheered on the Nashua Silver Knights as they defeated the Worchester Bravehearts in a 2-0 win. This was a fun way to spend a warm late summer evening. (Our seats were directly behind home plate which explains the "netting" seen in these photos. These were taken with a cell phone.)

The Nashua team won the championship series, two games to none. This win marked the second consecutive year the Silver Knights won the Futures Collegiate Baseball League playoffs. The Silver Knights have never had a losing season and qualified for the post-season every year.  It's the fourth time in 7 years that the team has taken the trophy.

The FCBL is a 9-team collegiate summer baseball league in New England with six franchises in Massachusetts, two in New Hampshire, and one in ConnecticutThe FCBL plays a 56-game schedule (28 home/28 away). It's a wood bat league and ballplayers are unpaid collegiate athletes who join the league to gain experience and exposure to Major League baseball scouts. Each year, top players will be scouted and selected in the MLB draft.
This is a fun way to spend a warm summer night at the ball field. Between innings, there's assorted side-line events like kid-friendly competitions and t-shirt tosses, always a big crowd favorite. (We've never scored a shirt, but there's always next year.)
We started going to the games last year and were at the final 2016 championship game when the Silver Knights won the trophy. What's not to like, a good time with often free or 2 for 1 tickets and dining out on hot dogs and soft pretzels. (Please, don't say these aren't summer time food groups.) 

What fun did you have this weekend? 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Funnies

Notice anything unusual about back of this truck?
It's a lock and door firm and the small padlock on the right is unlocked.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bloggers Are Friends

For many of us, fellow bloggers have become friends. 

It would be wonderful to be able to meet face-to-face with these friends, but most will remain on-line friends for many reasons: distance, time, commitments. We have been fortunate enough to meet a few fellow blogger(s).

When something happens to a fellow blogger or his/her family, we are saddened.

That's how I felt last night.

We've been away 2 weeks with limited Internet access and out of touch with blog-dom.

Once home, I started blog-binging and read very sad news. A July 30 post by Danny, the son of blogger, Mona (Wsprsweetly of Cottages) said that his mother had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few month ago and was in hospice care.

I never met Mona, but we exchanged blog comments, emails, snail-mail messages and cards so this was devastating news. Going to Comments and reading previous ones from fellow bloggers, gave me even sadder news — Danny posted again to say his mother had passed away peacefully on Aug 3. 

Mona was a very special lady. On her blog, she shared both sad and happy news as well as her passions for her home and yard and the joy and love of her very large family. She enjoyed fairy gardens, decorating and garage sales  I and and many others enjoyed her posts. She will be missed.

This is not the first time I've experienced the loss of a blog buddy and I know others have as well. We come to care about the lives on our online friends.

As another blogger recently noted, some folks stop posting with no explanation leaving others to wonder why?  It's always feels like a loss. I've contacted blogger(s) who were no longer online and hadn't said goodbye to learn they were OK despite not posting and that was reassuring to me. 

Longtime non-bloggers will suddenly do a catch-up post. Perhaps you have some of those listed in your bookmarks as I do and check back often. It was that way with Mona's blog as she had taken some blog breaks (which we all need) and thanked readers for their patience. So I'd check back periodically. Sadly, her son's update wasn't expected.

Perhaps you "know" fellow bloggers who haven't seen online in awhile. If so, you might send a thinking of you message if there's a way to contact them provided, which may not always be possible.

If you can, take the initiative and reach out. You and others may be glad you did. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

We're Home (Finally)

A big Thanks to fellow bloggers who not only read, but also commented on posts pre-scheduled for the 2 weeks we were away from Nashua, NH. (We arrived home over the weekend and are catching up on things here, and will be visiting your blogs this week.)

Unlike recent trips, this road trip wasn't all fun. The first few days were spent with family in RI to celebrate granddaughter Ellie's 6th birthday with all 3 grandchildren.
Family then gathered for beach time in CT where youngest granddaughter, 7-month old, Lilliana had her first toes in the sand experience. She wasn't as fond of the chilly water temps as her older cousins and preferred to stay on the beach with her mom and aunt.
The rest of the time (about a week and half) was spent at our house on the VA eastern
shore. It sadly remains unsold as described in this earlier post. Getting to VA from NH involves a stopover in NJ, coming and going, to avoid a 10-hour road trip each way.

Once in VA, yard work projects such as weeding and pruning filled the morning hours. From years of living there in hot and humid summer months, we learned to work early in the day. Afternoons were spent reading on the front porch. 

Getting online wasn't an option unless we went to a local McDonald's or public library. There's no internet access at the house, even cell service was sporadic. Did I mention that the house is in a small town? (Grenville said to add that the mail delivery pony came up lame.) It's not exactly a rural area rural, but technologically not as advanced as a larger town.  

Yard work aside, our most important task was to sign with a new realtor. This time, we went with a national realty firm vs. the independent realtor we stayed with far too long. While parting with the former didn't go smoothly; that's in the past now.

Before our VA arrival, we emailed two realtors to set up meetings. The difference in their presentations was eye opening. The first came prepared with analysis of tax records, area sales, previous realty listings. He'd visited the property, checked the house and grounds before our arrival, and was dressed well. The second realtor arrived with no paperwork, holding a cell phone, hadn't checked the house or yard, and was dressed very informally in shorts and a t-shirt. (Not a hard choice to decide as you've probably figured out.)

One suggestion from the selected realtor was an "aha" moment for us. Instead of suggesting that we spend $ for interior "updates" (which wouldn't bring a higher sale) he proposed that we trim or remove a cedar tree in the front yard. 

There was nothing "special" about the tree, except that we'd transplanted it from our native NJ. It was where we hung holiday lights for a few years. It didn't provide shade in the front yard and actually kept the lawn from growing below it.
That said, removing it was another not-so-hard decision. But the task itself was the tough part. Grenville started trimming some of the lower branches on the cedar and a nearby maple tree.
Since the chain saw was sold as part of downsizing, he used a pole saw to trim lower branches. After that calling a tree removal service was (another) easy decision.
We think it was a good one. This was the front porch view after the tree was cut down and all branches were taken away including the ones that Grenville had cut.
Neighbors who visited before we left said they never knew there were blue shutters on the front of the house. 

Now, we're hoping prospective buyers can "see" the house too. Better yet, we hope that the realtor change will bring a sale (soon).

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Funny

Seen on a sidewalk crossing near a school zone . . .

This caution was on both sides of the street. It's a sign of the times when children have to be reminded of distraction dangers.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.
And be careful when crossing the street.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Oldies But Goodies

"America's Oldest Car Collection" refers to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. It's not the largest auto museum we've visited, but it's the most unique. Located only an hour drive from Nashua, NH, it was a perfect weekend road trip (excuse the pun).

Housed in this grand carriage house in Brookline, MA, outside Boston, it contains the personal autos of wealthy Bostonians Isabel and Larz Anderson. Many of these cars were among the earliest models produced in the U.S. and elsewhere.

This opulent and (extremely) large carriage house was originally built to house the Anderson's houses and carriages. The structure, built in 1888, was designed by Boston architect Edmund M. Wheelwright and the design was
Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire
influenced by the 10th century Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire in France. The building was constructed for horses, stored carriages, and housed the stable staff who lived on the upper floor. Once the Andersons began collecting automobiles, a garage was added on the basement level for vehicle repairs.

The idea of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum originated from a weekend tradition started by the Andersons at their Brookline estate. On Sunday afternoons, they would open the doors to their spectacular carriage house and display their expanding collection of American and European vehicles to the public.
Current Larz Anderson Auto Museum exhibit: Supercars

Today, the museum is a non-profit educational institution that hosts community events, lectures, children’s programs, lawn events, and a changing series of exhibits on motor vehicles. 
Larz & Isabel Anderson
Larz Anderson was a wealthy American diplomat who attended private school in NH and later graduated from Harvard. In 1896 while serving as the First Secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Rome he met Isabel Weld Perkins. She was a wealthy young woman from Boston who was on a world tour. Anderson's family was wealthy, but not in comparison to Isabel's, who at 5 years of age inherited over 5 million dollars from her shipping magnate grandfather, William Fletcher Weld.

They married in 1897 in Boston and combined a life of luxury with public service and adventure. They traveled widely across the world as well as through North America, visiting five continents and becoming among the first Westerners to visit Tibet and Nepal.  Larz served with the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War. During World War I, Isabel worked as a volunteer for the American Red Cross and spent time in Belgium and France caring for war sick and injured. She later authored several books, including a history of the Weld shipping enterprise

Their auto collection started in 1899 with the purchase of a "horseless carriage" made by the Winton Motor Carriage Company. This Winton 4-hp Runabout remains on permanent display in the museum’s lower gallery. 

In the following decades, the Andersons purchased an automobile nearly every year, acquiring at least 32 new motorcars during their lifetimes. Their collection also included 24 horse-drawn carriages and six sleighs. 
As the cars became obsolete, they were "retired" to the carriage house of the 64-acre Brookline estate, which included a 25-room mansion and extensive gardens. The Andersons opened the building to the public in 1927 and allowed visitors to see their vehicles. 
Larz Anderson died in 1937 and when Isabel died in 1948, she bequeathed the entire Brookline estate (including mansion, carriage house, and land) to the town of Brookline. She stipulated in her will that the motorcar collection be called the "Larz Anderson Collection" and that a non-profit be given stewardship of the collection.
Unfortunately, the mansion (named Weld) did not fare well. The estate was given to the town of Brookline in 1948. Totally neglected by the early 1950’s, the unoccupied mansion became a frequent object of vandalism and the rear was damaged by fire. The house was deemed too expensive to restore and it was torn down by the town in 1955. 
 Source: Brookline Historical Society
Of the original 32 motor vehicles, these 14 "gems" remain in the collection: 1899 Winton Phaeton, 1900 Rochet-Schneider, 1901 Winton Bullet, 1903 Gardner-Serpollet, 1905 Electromobile, 1906 Charron-Girodot et Voigt, 1907 Fiat, 1908 Bailey, 1910 Panhard et Levassor, 1912 Renault, 1916 Packard Twin Six, 1924 Renault Torpedo, 1925 Luxor Taxi, 1926 Lincoln Limousine.

The museum no longer has 19 of the Anderson's vehicles; however, there was no explanation as to their fate: 1905 Walter Tractor & Victoria Carriage, 1907 Walter Brougham, 1910 American Underslung (designed by Harry Stutz), 1913 Hudson 33, 1917 Ford Model T Estate Wagon, 1918 Dodge, 1920 Dodge Truck, 1920 Dodge Hackney, 1924 Dodge Sedan, 1928 Nash Advanced Six, 1930 Packard Limousine, 1931 REO Flying Cloud 6-21, 1936 Dodge Station Wagon, 1938 Dodge Express Truck, 1939 GMC Truck, 1940 Ford Deluxe Wagon, 1941 Packard Suburban, 1947 Pontiac Sedan, and 1948 Ford Super Deluxe Wagon. 
Weld Estate gardens, 1911

The Carriage House is on the National Register and considered a historical landmark within the community. The grounds of Larz Anderson Park include a pond, acres of open space with walking paths, and an ice skating rink open to the public during winter months. This rink is on the former site of what was once the estate's gardens. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Grenville is a Ham

Sure, he's a funny guy and all, but the "ham" in this post title refers to his renewed interest in amateur (ham) radio. And, it's no longer about learning Morse code.
For years, amateur radio operators were required by international agreement to demonstrate Morse code proficiency to use frequencies below 30 MHz. In 2003, the World Radio Communications conference (WRC) meeting in Switzerland, voted to allow member countries of the International Telecommunications Union to eliminate Morse code testing if they so wished.
In late 2006, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eliminated Morse code testing requirements for American Amateur Radio License applicants, which took effect in February 2007. Eliminating this requirement has occurred in other countries and boosted the number of worldwide amateur operators.

There's still a testing requirement to obtain an operator's license, and now proficiency is determined by a written exam. A few months ago, after studying for it, Grenville passed and obtained a technician license, which is needed to transmit on the airwaves. No license is needed to purchase equipment and to listen (monitor) the airwaves. 

But what fun would that be?

Grenville's ham radio equipment is set up on the sun porch in our apartment which is on the highest floor (5th) of a former textile mill and faces the Nashua River. 

He's not outside, which wouldn't be a good place for sensitive equipment. I should explain that the sun porch is a misnomer (called that by management). It's enclosed within the building and separated from the living room by a door as shown here.  

When we lived in Virginia, Grenville had this entire workshop to tinker in, so this space is somewhat challenging in its limitations.
Despite that, Grenville has managed to rig a few antennas in his "work" area. The one on the right appears grainy as it's outside behind the window screen. The one that he's standing next to was hand-built from pieces of a TV antenna that was formerly in the attic of our VA home. The lights in the bottom left photo are not part of the antenna which is rigged above them.  
Admittedly, it's currently a bit overcrowded in his work space, but he's telling me that it's still in the "organizational" stages. (As long as he leaves the futon out there clear of anything so I can stretch out and read, it's all good.)

A major advantage of ham radio over other forms of modern communication is that when power, cell phone and Internet services go down, a battery-powered amateur radio and portable antenna can provide a crucial link to the outside world. Which is really something to think about.

Some facilities are considering it as reliable backup communications in a crises. Emory HealthCare (Atlanta, GA) is among a number of hospital systems to adopt ham radio. This is a direct result of Hurricane Katrina which left some Gulf Coast medical centers isolated from the outside world when landlines and cell towers failed. Also, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) has set up a permanent ham radio station in its command center. 

Recently, I accompanied Grenville to Rollins State Park in Warner, NH, where he and other members of the Nashua Area Radio Club conducted a Summits on the Air (SOTA) event.

SOTA is an amateur radio operating program that started in Great Britain and later in the U.S. and is now known worldwide. The purpose is to encourage licensed amateur radio operators to operate temporarily from the summits of hills and mountains. Grenville and several others set up their equipment in a parking area and made contact with operators in several nearby states. (This was his first SOTA. Can you tell how excited he was?) 

While the radio operators were busy having fun, I tried out some panoramic shots using my cell phone, which I don't do often. It was a bit hazy and trees "blocked" the view somewhat, but otherwise it was a beautiful scene.
The umbrella on the right side of this photo is where the radio equipment was set up. 
Based on the good time he had, Grenville is already planning to go on future SOTA events in months to come. (I'll go along too for the scenic views.)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday Funnies

Shhh . . . don't wake the cormorants.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

George Was Ripped

Yes, it's sad but true, the father of our country, George Washington was ripped recently.

No, he wasn't under the influence of any alcoholic beverage. (Although, historically, he's said to have slept in quite a few inns and taverns as they also offered lodgings. So one never knows what happened then.)

No, he wasn't in a gym getting a ripped body.

Maybe he wore ripped clothing at one time. Who knows?

Perhaps, by now, you may have figured out that George was ripped when a U.S. dollar bill was torn up. I found pieces of George tossed on the floor here. Since he was littering the hallway, I picked up the pieces.  

At the time, I didn't think that, like Humpty Dumpty, George could be made whole again. To my surprise, not only had I found all the pieces, but was able to fit them together with patience and clear tape. This bill was in at least 25 pieces.
I remembered reading someplace that a torn bill could be replaced. While wishing it had been a higher denomination, I started an online search for information. Here's some of what I learned.

Can a damaged bill be replaced?
Depending on the damage and how much of the bill remains, a local bank or the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) will replace it free. If you have the pieces, tape the bill together. Try to fit the edges as precisely as possible.

What percentage of bills are $1 notes?
Just under half of the bank notes printed by the U.S. BEP are $1 bank notes. 

How long does a dollar bill circulate?
Estimates are that a dollar bill circulates on average less than 2 years. It's just paper and often sees rough handling passed from person to person. 

How long does paper currency last? 
It depends on the note's denomination. $100 bills are exchanged as often as $5 bills. As a result, the lifespan of a $100 bill is 15 years, while it's less than 5 years for a $5 bill. Dollar bills last just under 6 years on average, the $20 bill has a relatively long lifespan of just over 7-1/2 years.
online source

What type of paper is U.S. money printed on? 
U.S. paper currency is actually not paper, but is made of a cotton/linen material. It consists of a 75% cotton/25% linen blend with silk fibers running through it. There's three-fourths of a pound of cotton in a pound of dollar bills. Currency paper made specifically for the BEP has the security thread and watermark built in.

What happens to worn currency?
When currency is deposited in a  U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, the quality of each note is evaluated by sophisticated processing equipment to determine its remaining lifespan. Notes that meet strict quality criteria and are still in good condition, continue to circulate. Bills worn out from everyday use are taken out of circulation and destroyed. 

How durable is paper currency?
Paper currency is built to a beating. The BEP estimates it would take 4,000 double folds (forward, then backwards) before a note will tear. If it were made of paper, it would fall apart when left it in a pants pocket and sent for a spin in the washing machine.

How much U.S. currency is in circulation?
There was approximately $1.54 trillion in circulation as of April 5, 2017, of which $1.49 trillion was in Federal Reserve notes.

Finally, here's a question I wondered about when showing ripped George . . .
Is photographing currency legal?
Federal laws don’t ban reproducing images of U.S. currency. However, they do restrict how to legally display reproductions. Here's the restrictions from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for color illustrations: 
  • Illustration must be one-sided.
  • Less than three-fourths size of the original or 150 % larger than the original.
  • Destroy or erase a file that contains an image or part of the illustration.
YES, I exchanged ripped George for an intact replacement at our local bank. Yet, I was thinking, how nice it would have been if Benjamin Franklin had been ripped and discarded. Maybe another time?

So, folks, this is the only time that George W. will be shown "ripped" or otherwise. He's going into the trash and will be deleted from my computer file after this post. After all, I wouldn't want to invoke the U.S. Treasury for such a small denomination.
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