Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Holiday Rush ?

It seems that U.S. retailers are rushing the holidays earlier and earlier each year, especially one-day celebrations.
Halloween and Thanksgiving cards were on display side-by-side here in Nashua, NH in mid-August. These holidays are celebrated at the end of October (31) and November (23).

At this rate, maybe Christmas-themed merchandise will be in stores by mid-September. Guess I'm showing my age, but when I was growing up, hometown stores didn't have Christmas decorations up until right before or just after Thanksgiving — just like in classic films, Christmas Story and Miracle on 34th Street and similar ones.

What about you — seen any early holiday merchandise in your area yet ?

Monday, August 28, 2017

Helping Out

First, thanks to everyone for the well wishes on our recent wedding anniversary. All were read and very much appreciated by Grenville (Pat) and Beatrice (Dorothy). We celebrated with a couple of in-state getaways, which will be described in a future post or two.

Today, our thoughts are with those U.S. folks who have suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Harvey, the first major hurricane to make landfall in over a decade.

Like so many others, we want to help. The best way to help out is by monetary donations which relief organizations prefer as it causes less of a strain on resources. Material donations incur expenses like transportation costs, shipping delays, or time managing goods unlike financial donations.

Ensure that your financial donation is secure by going through the organization's official website or by mailing a check. Avoid donating over the phone or through email from unknown social media pages. All these are easier targets for unscrupulous scammers who, unfortunately, come out in times of disaster. 

The Red Cross relies on financial donations to give immediate relief. Its set up a way to donate with an easy text: Text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also visit or call 1- 800-RED CROSS.

United Way also lets you text a donation: 
Text UWFLOOD to 41444 to donate to the United Way Flood Relief Fund.

The Salvation Army is accepting donations by online, mail or phone. Hurricane Harvey relief efforts can be made at or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

If you're ever unsure of where your financial contribution is going. You can check the charity by checking with a charity monitoring organization, like there: GiveWell, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch before making a donation.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday Funnies

On the water dining — pizza, everyone . . .
These dining kayakers were seen from our 5th floor apt window last week, but we didn't see a pizza delivery kayak.

A couple of weeks ago, there was another group of kayakers, who didn't stop for dinner.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Blooms & Flutterbys

On a recent outing along the river walk here in Nashua, NH, so called as it's a paved path along part of the Nashua River near the mill apartments we live in now, these were some, of the colorful blooms.
There was also a fritillary butterfly which only on this flower alone. This butterfly is sometimes mistaken for its more famous distant cousin, the monarch butterfly, although they seem very different to me

Most fritillaries are orange and black like monarchs, but with a different pattern. However, some are about the same size. There are 14 species of the so-called greater fritillaries (genus Speyeria) and 16 lesser fritillaries (genus Bolloria). Their names refer to their sizes. 

The common name comes from the Latin, fritillus, meaning chessboard or dice box.  Another name for these butterflies is silverspots because of metallic markings on their wing's undersides. It's possible that this pattern serves as a camouflage too.

Like many butterflies, the fritillary caterpillar is selective about what it eats. It doesn't favor milkweed like monarchs. It prefers violets and without violets, there would be no fritillary butterflies. Adults go for nectar of native flowers, such as butterfly weed, common milkweed, Joe-pye-weed and others. They also visit non-native flowers such as lilacs, butterfly bush and some thistles.

Soon two fritillaries were on the same bloom and didn't seem to mind sharing.

I don't know the name of this flower, but it was certainly attractive as a third fritillary landed on the same flower despite other blooms nearby.
Whatever reason these blooms were the attractive to this trio, it provided a great photo opportunity during my late afternoon walk.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Anniversary Eclipsed

This year two special events are happening today, August 21.

The first has received worldwide coverage; countless numbers will be out to view "The Great American Total Solar Eclipse" which will be visible in totality within a band across the entire contiguous U.SThe last time a solar eclipse of this magnitude occurred was during the June 8, 1918 eclipse.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon's apparent diameter is larger than the sun's, blocking all direct sunlight and turning day into darkness. The path of totality—the region from which the total eclipse is visible to skywatchers—will  stretch from Oregon to S. Carolina. About 12 million people live in its path; 220 million reside within a day's drive.

Did you see the interactive Total Solar Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp issued by the U.S. postal system? (Hope you got some as when the 60 million printed stamps sell out, they won't be reprinted.)

The stamp uses a photograph taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak of a total solar eclipse viewed over Jalu, Libya on March 29, 2006. 

It was the first U.S. postage stamp to use thermochromic ink that reacts to the heat of touch. Placing a finger over the black disc on the stamp caused the ink to change from black to clear and reveal an underlying image of the moon. When it cools, the image reverts to a black disc. The back of the stamp pane showed a map of the eclipse path.

Here's the second, but no less minor, event that's being celebrated today, a private one with far less coverage except here. August 21 is our (18th) wedding anniversary.  
Also, co-celebrating across the pond in England today are friends Kath and Andrew. We met several years ago when they were on a U.S. visit and hope we will meet again, perhaps in England this time.
Later this week, family members in CT will also celebrate wedding anniversaries. We send our best wishes to them and all others celebrating this month.

In 2 years, we'll have to come up with a really quite spectacular celebration for our 20th. 
Admittedly, it will be hard to top a solar eclipse — but, we're open to all suggestions.
This year, we're taking a couple of short getaways that don't involve family, VA house projects or anything other than enjoying ourselves. The latter part of the trip will involve one of Grenville's favorite activities — a train ride (details to follow in a future post).

Happy Anniversary to Everyone🍾

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Funnies

Can you hear me . . .
That's what Grenville seemed to be saying to this sculpture at the Currier Museum in Manchester, NH a couple of months ago. There was no reply, but it would have been very funny if there was one !

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone. 

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's 6th birthday with all 3 grandchildren.
Family then gathered for beach time in CT where youngest granddaughter 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.