Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The $5 Solution

Ever have this problem? (Only applies to anyone with a suction window-mount GPS unit.)

The GPS refuses to adhere on the windshield because the suction mount will not stay on the window for more than 5 3 minutes.

There's a solution — NO, you won't have to buy another GPS or even replace the mount.

Instead — use Velcro. And yes, this package is empty because . . .

Grenville applied the velcro fastener strips to the windshield of my car and also to the back of the GPS unit. (The photo looks a bit ghostly when shot from outside.)

It really works!  While we can remove and re-attach the GPS to the Velcro strips, we just leave it on the windshield, except when there's a map update.

SO, our lesson learned was that the $5 spent was way less costly than other alternatives.

Velcro, who knew it was so versatile.

Do YOU know any good unusual uses for Velcro?

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Big Reveal

Earlier this month, a Friday Funnies post showed a local retail store with part of its name still covered. 

Of course, we were curious as to why? and really enjoyed post comments that included solutions like: a possible misspelling, waiting for the glue to dry, trying to create suspense.

Last weekend, the mystery ended as the store opened for business with the not-so-big sign uncovering.
And, to our non-surprise (and most likely yours) it's a CVS retail pharmacy and open 24 hours too.

Why was the sign partially covered, we asked a store employee who told us with a straight face: "They forgot to remove the paper last week."

Mystery solved. Sherlock can rest now (and so can we).

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Funnies

There's always a place to get a Coke® no matter where you might walk. 

It just might be in an unusual locale.

For example, this soda vending machine was just off the paved rail trail we walked this spring in Nashua, NH. Yes, we were told that the machine works. Electrical power is provided by a homeowner who also maintains the unit.

And, it was unwrapped the next time we walked this trail. Grenville passed on a soda, but rested awhile.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Street Art

On a walk around downtown, NH, recently we noticed this new street art. I took a photo in two "parts" first.

Before capturing the full wall mural in a panoramic photo — it is very magnificent and a tribute to those who have served and continue to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

We hope it won't fall prey to unscrupulous graffiti vandals.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rest in Peace

Cemeteries are not just for the dead. Anyone who has ever walked through one knows that.

Many cemeteries offer a peaceful respite from the hectic pace of everyday life in park-like settings to folks not ready for that final destination (including Grenville and myself). Some final resting places include spectacular monuments to lives well lived or not — who's to judge?

We have often sought out cemeteries notable for their natural beauty or the scope of their monuments. That was the case when we spent a recent weekend in RI visiting family. We stayed at a B&B and during breakfast talk with other guests, we were told about River Bend Cemetery in Westerly RI, near where we were staying.

Of course, we had to make a side trip there on the way back to Nashua, NH. It was well worth the detour.

Incorporated in 1849, as Elm Grove Cemetery, the cemetery name was changed to River Bend due to its unique location on the eastern bank of the Pawcatuck River. It has
served as a final resting place for over 165 years with waterfront views on Route 1A, between downtown and the Westerly beaches.

Asher Babcock has a prime burial plot high on a mount overlooking the Pawcatuck River. I learned through online searches that he was a mechanic and inventor. He is credited with creating the pin wheel motion in plaid looms as well as a shoe peg machine and other mechanical applications that were widely adapted by the manufacturers of his time in the 1800s. He and several family members are buried in this high view.

More outstanding than this location are the memorials, many are granite works of art as granite is not uncommon in New England. The most spectacular memorials we've seen to date can be found in Hope Cemetery in Barre, VT, the city that calls itself the "Granite Capital of the World."  Should you ever want to see granite craftsmanship immortalized, do make a trip there, if you happen to be in New England.

A cemetery walk through can reveal a unique tale of the people and events interred there. War veterans from the Civil War, two World Wars, and up to the present. The monuments tell stories of untimely death, some due to wars, accidents, hurricanes and other calamities.

This cemetery abounds with magnificent granite carvings created by artists and their descendants, brought to the area to work in the granite industry. Some monuments are large and intricate; others are small and delicate.

Walking through a cemetery may not be everyone's idea of a "good time" but, for us, reading headstone inscriptions can often provide a glimpse of others lives. We have been humbled by many epitaphs. One thing that is never easy to see are headstones of so many children who died at such young ages in the 1700-1800s.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Funnies

No worries here about a close encounter with the curb; this driver wasn't anywhere near it.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Salmon with Asparagus

We enjoy fish dinners that's no secret. 

Salmon is one of our favorite types of fish  to prepare largely due to its versatility and taste, not to mention health benefits. A favorite vegetable we enjoy is asparagus, especially when readily available in local markets. 

Finding a recipe that combined both of these favorite foods and was also (very) easy made this a perfect meal. And, it's really very good as well.

This recipe is from Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook from America's Test Kitchen and as the title states, it serves 2 people.

Salmon with Asparagus and Herb Dressing
  • 2 (4 to 8 oz.) skin-on salmon fillets, 1-1/2 in. thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 8 oz. thick asparagus, trimmed
  • 4 tsps lemon juice
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp minced fresh parsley, basil or mint
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  1. Pat salmon dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Lay fillets skin side up in skillet, cook about 5 minutes until well browned on first side. Use tongs and gently flip over, reduce heat to medium and cook until center of fish is still translucent when checked with tip of paring knife. Transfer to serving plate and tent loosely with aluminum foil.
  2. Wipe skillet clean. Add butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil and heat over medium heat until butter melts. Add half of asparagus to skillet with tips pointed in one direction and other half with tips pointed in opposite direction. Sprinkle with salt and shake into even layer.
  3. Cover and cook about 5 minutes until spears are bright green and still crisp. Uncover, increase heat to high and continue cooking, 5 to 7 minutes, until spears are tender and well-browned on one side. use tong to move spears from center of skillet to edge of pan to ensure that all are browned.
  4. Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, parsley, and mustard in small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer asparagus to plate and add fillets then drizzle with dressing and serve.
Both Grenville and myself gave this dish a forks up. It will definitely be on a future dinner menu.

When asparagus are no longer available, I will substitute fresh green beans.

Monday, June 13, 2016

For the Birds?

Wondering what these are?
Maybe a collection of bird house condos for oversized birds?

But that's not correct. And, these structures surprised us as well on a visit to Salem, MA.
What are they? 
These are known as "environmental sculptures." This one is called What the Birds Know (so you were close). This environmental art installation was created by North Carolina artist Patrick Dougherty. 

Like many of Dougherty's works, it was built with saplings that were weaved and flexed into sculpture and it was commissioned by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) also in Salem, MA.  Over the past 30 years, Dougherty had created more than 250 pieces throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Photos of his other environmental sculpture pieces can be seen on his aptly named website,

If you're in New England anytime the rest of this year, you can see and explore these sculptures, FREE of charge. Just walk around in downtown Salem, MA at the corner of Hawthorne Boulevard and Essex Street.  Believe me, you won't miss them and they will remain there until the end of December 2016.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Funnies

Memorial Day was celebrated here on the U.S. recently on May 31, a day to honor Americans who have died in military service, but also the start of the summer season and now a major shopping holiday.

This online promo for a local furniture store was a bit off on its calendar date.
Notice that the sale extension date is before the holiday date. Obviously, the date was meant to read June 6th; you can't always believe what you read.

This is a screen shot from the actual website. We were shopping there last weekend shopping and were told the management knew about the error.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Another Grand Visit

During our anniversary trip to the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa in Whitfield, NH, we made a lunch stop at another of the "grand" hotels in the state of NH.

The Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, NH, was a 30-minute drive from the MVG. 

This "other" grand hotel offers spectacular views of Mount Washington. It's a very large grand hotel with nearly double the 145 guest room capacity of the MVG we stayed in.

Unlike the MVG, the Mount Washington is clearly visible from a roadside view. Its white and red colors are quite striking when contrasted against the snow-capped mountains behind. These photos were taken a few weeks ago in mid-May

The Mount Washington Hotel was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. It was built by Joseph Sticky, who made his fortune in coal mining and railroading before age 30. He spared no expense in building the Y-shaped hotel which was started in 1900 and completed in 1902. Stickney brought in 250 skilled Italian artisans to work on the granite and stucco masonry and woodworking. The hotel had its own private telephone system and post office. As the most luxurious hotel of the time, its clientele were wealthy guests from major East Coast cities, Boston, New York and Philadelphia; as many as 50 trains daily stopped at three train stations in Bretton Woods.

Sticky died at 64, a year after completion. His widow summered at the hotel for the next decade. Under its first manager, the hotel was a success, but the advent of income tax, Prohibition, and the Great Depression curtailed business. After her 1936 death, Mrs. Stickney's nephew inherited the hotel and closed it in 1942 because of WW II. 
During a hotel tour, we learned that in 1944 when the U.S. government was looking for a site for a worldwide monetary conference to deal with the financial aftermath of WW II. The Mount Washington Hotel was chosen because of its location and room for 730 representatives from 44 nations. That conference is known as the Bretton Woods International Monetary Conference.

But the hotel, vacant for years, was in disrepair with roofs that had collapsed under heavy snowfall. Two months before the conference start, the U.S. Government sent workers with 50 cans of white paint each and instructions to paint everything white. Without concern for historic preservation, paint was applied on mahogany doors, brass fixtures in the Great Hall, and some Tiffany windows to make everything look clean. The Conference took place over 21 days in July 1944; hotel owners were paid $300,000 for the loss of business and a daily room charge of $18 per person. 

Years later restoration efforts focused on removing the white paint, traces of which are still visible today in the hotel.
The hotel was not always open year-round. It would close in late fall and re-open in the spring. It re-opened for its first winter season in 1999. This 19th century grandfather clock is one of the few original pieces remaining in the Great Hall (lobby). Before the hotel was open year-round, the starting of the clock signaled the beginning of the summer season. On the final day, the last guest would stop the pendulum until the next season began.  
Beyond the lobby or Great Hall is the Conservatory, originally called the Hemicycle. This half-circle shaped sun parlor is built almost entirely of plate glass with surrounding views of the Presidential Mountain Range. The domed ceiling is ringed with Tiffany glass and gives the room natural acoustics for musical performances, still held there. 

Our day trip to visit the Mount Washington Hotel was a "bucket list" stop. We had seen this imposing structure on previous trips to the area, but had never stopped in. This time we were glad we did as it was really another grand experience.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Swing Batter Batter Swing

We've heard this phrase many times at countless baseball games.

Where did it originate and why do you hear it at ball games?

Online sources indicate the words yelled from the sidelines at a baseball game are "chatter" an attempt to distract the opposing team's batter so he will screw up. Other sideline chatter attempts at distraction include calling the batter "a sissy" or yelling "throw it over, he can't hit."
Years ago, Cincinnati Little League players were prohibited from taunting the opposing team players with "negative" chatter. The exception was unless the chatter was positive and directed at team members. Officials said the ban was a needed response to increased incidents of taunting (mostly from parents).
I don't know if this ban is still in effect there. But chatter is alive and well here in Nashua. We heard it this past Friday night at Holman Stadium, when the Nashua (NH) Silver Knights played their season home opener against the Massachusetts based North Shore Navigators. There was a lot of bat swinging.  

The Silver Knights beat the Navigators in a final 5-4 score that was tied until the Knights scored the game-winning winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning before an opening night crowd of over 2,200. The Silver Knights are now 3-0.
This summer collegiate baseball team is based in Nashua, NH and is a charter member of the Futures Collegiate Baseball (FCBL), a wood-bat league with a 56-game regular season comprising 10 teams from NH to western CT. 

The team is managed by the Lowell Spinners, the Class A minor league affiliate of the Boston Red SoxHome games are played at Holman Stadium built in 1937 as a multi-purpose stadium, official seating capacity is 4,000

The phrase was popularized in the 1986 classic comedy, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Ferris and
best friend, Cameron Frye, are watching the Chicago Cubs playing at Wrigley Field when
Cameron starts chanting: 
"Hey batta batta batta swing batter batter." He accentuates the
word swing as Sa-Wing then adds: 
He can't hit, and he can't hit, and he can't hit, and he can't hit, sa-wing batter! Ferris soon joins in the chant. (Video clips can be found online.)

Swing is the title of a song by an American country music singer and actor Trace Adkins. It's not exactly about striking out in baseball, but rather about striking out with an attractive woman. 

The video is set against a baseball field and, while fun, could be considered a bit perhaps too risqué for many. For that reason, a link is not included; however, the video is readily accessible on youtube. You can search online and watch at your own discretion.

Hey Batta Batta Swing!: The Wild Old Days of Baseball (2007) is the title of a 2007 book by Sally Cook and James Charlton and illustrated by Ross MacDonald. It contains info on baseball trivia: "Discover what it was like before there was a pitching mound or players had numbers on their jerseys. Learn how Babe Ruth got his nickname, why Brooklyn's team was called the Dodgers, and what Roger Clemens gave to keep his lucky number 21 when he switched teams. Sprinkled throughout are definitions of baseball's weird and wacky vocabulary."

Have you ever shouted swing batter batter swing at a ball game ?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday Funnies

Shhhhh it's a secret — CVS what?
Pizzeria, grocery store, hardware store, bakery . . .

Wait, Wait — of course, maybe it's Pharmacy !

This new CVS retail store has been under construction for the past year on Main St in downtown Nashua, NH and opens in early June.  It's NO secret as the previous, but smaller store, has remained open during construction.

So, it seemed unusual that the word "pharmacy" remains covered on the front and side of the new building the past couple of weeks. Most folks know WHAT follows the CVS name of the retailer, don't they?
FYI - the building reflection in the lower right window is Nashua (NH) City Hall.
Enjoy your weekend, Everyone
(and, keep looking for oddities all around)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Grand Time . . .

It didn't exactly start out that way as these scenes taken on May 16 show. yes, this was snow seen as we traveled a 2-hour road trip from Nashua to Whitefield, NH.

That's what we had a couple of weeks ago when we celebrated the 19th anniversary of our 1st date (yes, we do celebrate those odd anniversaries) at one of the grand old (and historic) hotels in the state.

Even its name is grand — The Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa.

grand hotel is defined as a large and luxurious hotel, especially one built in a traditional architectural style. Other NH grand hotels include the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, The Balsams Wilderness in Dixville Notch, and the Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle. Over a century ago, many grand resort hotels were developed in large part because of the railroad which would transport families from cities in the East Coast and Canada to the cooler mountains for summer, many staying at these hotels for the entire season. There were many hotels, inns and boarding house and about 20 grand hotels that offered guests amenities including fine dining, riding stables, game areas, post and telegraph offices as well as a variety of outdoor activities.

The MVG majestically overlooks the White Mountains. It was originally called The Mountain View House by its owners, William and Mary Jane Dodge.

The story told at a history tour of the MVG is that two weary travelers were taken in for the night when their stagecoach overturned on the way from Montreal to Boston. The driver directed them to a nearby farmhouse where the Dodges offered them lodgings. The travelers haste to reach Boston faded when they saw the views of the White Mountains and received a home-cooked breakfast. They decided to stay an entire week.

The Dodges, recognizing this business opportunity, accepted their first boarders in 1865 and the next year officially opened The Mountain View House inn. Additions were put on over the next few years and by 1884, the inn could hold over 100 guests. By 1911, facilities were expanded to accommodate over 200 guests. The iconic tower was added in 1912 to take advantage of the scenic view.
The inn became known as "The View" and the Dodges expanded to double capacity to 300 guests and dining for 450. The property remained in the family and claimed to be the oldest U.S. resort owned and operated by the same family living on the same property until it was sold in 1979. 

Sadly, the new owners weren't successful; the inn closed in 1986 after 22 seasons and went into foreclosure, the furnishings were auctioned in 1989. The golf course remained in use, but the hotel never reopened and fell into disrepair. In 1998, it was purchased by a Massachusetts contractor who got the entire complex for $1.3 M. A $20 million restoration added a new hotel kitchen, tower spa, tennis courts, landscaping and scaled down the guest rooms to 145. The hotel reopened in May 2002 under its current name.

The MVG was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The hotel and 4,000 nearby acres were purchased in 2005 by American Financial Group which owns and operates historic luxury hotels in four other U.S. states.

The MVG has a formal dining room, restored ballroom, exercise room, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, Jacuzzis, a tower spa with panoramic views, 17-seat theater and wine cellar. Seasonal activities include golf, tennis, riding, dogsled adventures, evening campfires and axe throwing (no kidding)  — Grenville captured 3rd place! 

The hotel features the oldest operating elevator in the state of NH; operated by one of the hotel staff (no self service due to its age). There's a "working" farm with sheep, goats, chickens, Scottish Highland cattle, Angora rabbits, and llamas; fine dining in an actual wine cellar — dress nicely and bring extra $ for this experience (we passed this up). You can also play chess on this oversize lawn set. During the onsite history tour, we learned that U.S. President Eisenhower was a frequent guest who visited the reading room so often that it's now named for him. 

During our 3-day trip, we visited another "grand" NH hotel, The Mount Washington Hotel where we had lunch and enjoyed spectacular views (more on this visit in a future post).

Did we have a GREAT trip?
In a single word —Yes!
Hands down, this was one of the best anniversary trips we've taken in recent years. Our stay was during the "off" season, which we would highly recommend when folks consider traveling if time isn't a factor. Why?  rates are usually lower, there's fewer guests, and more attentive service. And, there's no jostling for the comfiest seat on the front porch or in the lounge.

That said, we're already planning a return visit for the next "off" season which we were told would be late October to early November (right before the holiday rush).