Wednesday, May 30, 2018

No Rain on This Parade

It wasn't a BIG Memorial Day parade and there were no floats or animals as Nashua, NH celebrated the holiday this past Monday with a parade down Main St.  The weather wasn't the best with 60-degree temperatures and overcast skies, but it didn't rain on the participants or viewers.
The parade started, as it always does here in Nashua, with a color guard of police offices and fire department members.

All of the musical entertainment was provided by students in school bands. Including public and private schools, Nashua has more than 12 elementary and middle schools and 3 high schools.
This is some sample text to hold a space for more to come and not yet sure what that will be right now. 
Even though this wasn't a large turnout, it was nice to see that many residents, including ourselves, came out to remember servicemen and women who have lost their lives in military service. 
Grenville and I both grew up in NJ (Plainfield and South Orange) and remember attending many similar holiday parades with our families. We also recall that emergency services vehicles were always last. Just as we remembered, their horns and sirens blared along Main St. to signal the end of the parade. 

Did your town host a parade or other Memorial Day celebration; if so, did you attend?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

More Boston Views

As noted in a previous Boston post, we've been away since early May on a series of getaways. The first one started in Boston, MA, where we celebrated a pre-anniversary of our 1st date (doesn't everyone?). Thanks for all the best wishes too.

That post featured some of the older architecture, but there's also so much modern architecture in the city. We spent quite a lot of time traveling around in our 3-day stay.

We travelled around using the Boston Subway system called the "T" and operated by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). It's the nation's oldest underground streetcar system founded in 1897 and the fourth largest subway system in the U.S. (New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. are larger in that order.)

Until 1964, Boston's subway system was called the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The lyrics of the The MTA Song best known as Charlie on the MTA, tells the sad tale of a man named Charlie trapped on Boston's subway systemThe song was a 1959 hit for The Kingston Trio, an American folk singing group.The lyrics tell abut Charlie, who boards an MTA subway, and can't exit since he doesn't have the 5-cent exit fare. The song's best known chorus is:

Did he ever return?
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn'd
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned

The tune was composed in 1949 by Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes as part of an election campaign for Walter O'Brien, a Progressive Party candidate for Boston mayor who couldn't afford radio ads and hired local singers to write and sing the songs from a truck with a loudspeaker. One of his major campaign planks was to lower the price of subway rides by removing a complicated fare structure involving exiting. (In the 1959 version,  Walter O'Brien became George O'Brien possibly to avoid risking protests as happened to an earlier recording, when the song was seen as celebrating a socialist politician.)
The tune is so entrenched in Boston lore that the MBTA named its electronic card-fare collection system the "CharlieCard" and the 2004 card system dedication featured a performance by the Kingston Trio.

Unlike Charlie, we were able board and exit the Boston "T" by getting a pre-paid CharlieCard which allows unlimited travel for a set period of time. If only Charlie could have had one of these years ago.

We travelled around the city this way. There was a lot to see, even if I don't know the names of all the buildings we viewed once we were above ground. Boston is a very walkable city with architectural gems on just about every block.
There's a lot of new architecture throughout Boston. All of these newer skyscrapers are impressive and blend in well with the older architecture.blend in with the older buildings.

The most spectacular views we had were from the 50th floor observation deck, the Skywalk Observatory, which is currently the highest observation deck in New England, It's  in the Prudential Tower, which is the second tallest building in Boston. The tallest is 200 Clarendon Street, formerly called the John Hancock Tower and not the Hancock Tower after the signer of the Declaration of Independence and later insurance company name.

The Prudential Tower is 749 feet tall with 52 floors. The Top of the Hub restaurant occupies the 52nd and highest floor. The Prudential and Hancock towers (the tall black building below) dominate the Back Bay skyline.
The views from the skywalk observatory were spectacular on the Saturday we visited. We had perfect views from every window. Below are a couple of the Charles River.
If it seems like the central towers of The Longfellow Bridge below look like condiment holders on your table, you're right. The bridge is called the "salt & pepper" bridge because of the tower shapes. It's is a steel-rib arch bridge that spans the Charles River to connect Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood with the Kendall Square area of Cambridge, MA. The bridge carries auto, the MBTA Red Line, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic.
There is an admission cost to see the views at the top, but we figured it was worth the expense for this experience. Besides, there was a senior discount.
On our next visit, we're planning to go even higher up and dine in the restaurant, and we may not wait for a "special" celebration. Every day is special for us.
And hopefully for you as well

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Family Celebrations

Recent weekend getaways included a trip to RI for Mother's Day and we visited with the grandkids and their mother.
Grandson is going on 12 years old and his sister will be celebrating her 8th birthday this summer. 

There was also some grandpa time with both grandkids.
Youngest granddaughter and her mother celebrated Mothers' Day at home. We'll visit with them this summer. 

This Memorial Day weekend we will take time to remember those who died while serving in our armed forces. In our family, Uncle Red (Pete) died in naval service during WW II.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday Funnies

Seems like there's something missing here — like a bicycle.
But, there sure were a couple of locks.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Boston City Scenes

We're been away, so I've fallen in reading blogs, but will be catching up shortly. We've been to Boston, RI and VT. I'll be posting about where and what we've been doing. 

We were in Boston recently and had never before visited the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. The library opened in 1852 as the first free, publicly-supported municipal library in America and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Best of all, there's no admission charge to tour the library and view the artwork within.

The Central Library in Copley Square is opposite Trinity Church (below) founded in 1734. 
The library contains over 19 million volumes and electronic resources, making it the second-largest public library in the U.S. behind the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
It’s been called one of the five most important libraries in the U.S. Others are the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library and the university libraries of Harvard and Yale.
The Library has a collection of over 23.7 million items, making it one of the largest municipal public library systems in the U.S.
The massive stone lions were commissioned by veterans of the 20th Massachusetts (called the Harvard regiment because recruits had graduated or been at the school at the time of the Civil War) and the 2nd Massachusetts regiments. The stonework was left unpolished at the veterans request. The sculptures watch library users and tourists pass between them. Their large paws curl across the edge of the bases, filled with the names of the battles fought by the 2nd and the 20th Massachusetts: Ball's Bluff, Antietam, and Gettysburg.

The library has many art treasures including a sequence of mural decoration, Triumph of Religion, executed between 1895 and 1916 by artist John Singer Sargent.
Boston's Old City Hall was home to its city council from 1865 to 1969. It was one of the first buildings in the French Second Empire style built in the U.S.
The Second Empire style was used extensively in Boston and for many public buildings in Washington, D.C., and for city halls in ProvidenceBaltimore and Philadelphia.

When a new Boston City Hall opened in 1969, Old City Hall was converted to other uses, an early example of adaptive reuse. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1970. Today, it houses various businesses, organizations, and a restaurant.
We had an impressive view of this building from our hotel window at twilight.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Wedding Watchers ?

Time to 'fess up.
Did many of you watch the royal wedding this weekend?

OK, I'll go first. Yes I did watch some of the celebration. That said I did not get up at 4 or 5 a.m. to turn on the TV broadcasts. Instead, I watched some on my tablet while reading the news and drinking my usual cup of coffee. No, I didn't switch to tea for the occasion.

Thankfully, the weather was picture perfect considering that it took place in a country not where conditions can be iffy. The lyrics of Camelot by Frederick Lowe seemed most appropriate for the Windsor ceremony . . . 
But in Camelot, Camelot That's how conditions are.The rain may never fall till after sundown.By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
Here's a bride and groom we saw up walking in Boston during our recent getaway there (notice a sole attendant and many photographers). I'm not sure if this is a local tradition. Have you ever seen a bridal couple walking the street(s) in your local area?
Even though I didn't have morning or afternoon tea, our Saturday night dinner was a shepherd's pie casserole. Yes, it was made (partly) the tradition British way with lamb included.
It was very good, according to Grenville and our dinner guests.

Thanks to all for the anniversary well wishes which were read and much appreciated. We've had a couple of short getaways since that post. I've fallen a bit behind with blog reading and posting, but will be catching up this week.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Baked Pasta Primavera

Whenever we're leaving for a few days, it's time to clear out the fridge. 
Last week was no exception.But what to do for dinner?

This easy pasta dinner was adapted from a couple of online recipe sites as I didn't have some of the listed ingredients. So, I made substitutions. Do you do the same?

Baked Pasta Primavera & Cream Cheese Sauce
There is some prep time needed to chop and dice the veggies and then to make the sauce. You can substitute vegetables. For example, online recipes used cherry tomatoes and yellow squash. I prefer zucchini and found the assorted peppers we had more colorful.
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 C diced onion OR 2 shallots chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, cholled
  • 1/2 yellow pepper chopped
  • 1/2 orange peper chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste and Italian seasonings
  • 1-1/212 C cooked small penne pasta (or a similar pasta)
Sauce & Topping
  • 1 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 TBSP flour
  • 1 C milk 
  • 3/4 C grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 3/4 shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese mix
  • 4 TBSP cream cheese
  • 1 C panko bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease 9x13-inch (or round) baking dish.
  2. Heat oil in skillet and cook onion and garlic until softened.
  3. Add zucchini and peppers, season with salt and pepper and Italian seasonings. Sauté until vegetables are soft.
  4. Mix vegetables with cooked pasta.
  5. Melt butter in saucepan, then stir in flour. Stir and cook for 2 minutes then add milk slowly. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and stir 5 minutes until thickened.
  6. Add in parmesan and cream cheeses and stir to mix.
  7. Put into baking dish with vegetables and pasta and combine. Add mozzarella cheese and cover with panko bread crumbs.
Bake 15 minutes until bubbly. Place under broiler for 3-4 minutes to brown breadcrumbs if desired. 

Leftovers will be appreciated the following night. Grenville gave this recipe a two forks up.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

21 Years Ago . . .

We had our first date on May 16, 1997 when we were living in NJ.

YES, we really celebrate the date annually whether spending the day together and/or going out for dinner. 

In recent years, we've started planning short getaways as well. Special occasions only happen once a year, after all, so we always celebrate them. Do you?
Our recent Boston getaway included a champagne toast courtesy of the Parker House hotel. This week we're on the road to celebrate the actual date in another locale ! 

We'll celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary in August. After that, we'll have to start planning a extra-special celebration in for our 20th in 2019. One idea is to visit friends living in England who share the same wedding anniversary date.

We're open to all suggestions.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Not a Funny Photo

Since I'm always on the looking for Friday Funnies photo posts, my first thought on seeing this statue with pigeons on the statues heads was something like new head gear — pigeon caps ?
But, this is not a funny photo and I'm thankful that I took the time to learn more about its significance. After taking the photo on our recent Boston visit, I realized that I hadn't taken the time to learn anything out about the statue. It's simply amazing what can be found online and so I searched for Boston statue. Yes, I'm addicted to online searches.

The statue above is one of two statues that comprise the Boston Irish Famine Memorial. The sculptures were done by Robert Shure, a graduate of the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts. His work has been featured in several Boston museums and galleries. The two works are in a memorial park on a plaza along the Freedom Trail in Boston, MA. 

The one below depicts a ragged and starving Irish family suffering during the Great Famine of 1845-1852. This statue is in sharp contrast to the one above that depicts a family that had emigrated to America representing hope for the future.
The statues and memorial park were funded by a trust led by Boston businessman and philanthropist Thomas Flatley. The park opened in 1998 to mark 150 years since the height of the Great Famine
Internet source: Robert Shure website

Since then, it's has been labelled as "the most mocked and reviled public sculpture in Boston" by the art critic of The Boston GlobeMaintenance was cut back after Flatley's 2008 death. The Downtown Boston Business Improvement District and a nearby business help to clean the park area. Still, the site has been described in as a "magnet for vagrants and pigeons."

Sadly, as shown, those pigeons are a frequent sight atop the statues. They are fed by compulsive pigeon feeders who frequent the park during daylight hours. Until such feeding is discouraged and prohibited, it's impossible to keep the birds from landing on and fouling the statues. Panhandling also has been cited as a deterrent to keep visitors from stopping in the park.

Given the park’s position along the Freedom Trail, the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District is working to clean it up. The group sees the park as a welcoming and space and plans to add an information kiosk on the plaza.

Maybe changes will be made because the sculptures deserve better.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday Funnies

Open W-I-D-E . . .
This could be perfect displayed in a (very large) dental office. What do you think?

(We're away for a family event this weekend. Thanks, in advance, for your comments. I'll be reading and commenting on blogs in a few days.)

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Pre-Celebration Getaway

Ever go away for even a short trip then return home and find that catching up takes longer than expected?

That explains my absence — not only from posting but blog reading too. We're back in Nashua, NH, catching up before our next getaway for a family event and more.

Our recent Boston weekend excursion was wonderful, especially as we decided to stay in the city for a few overnights for an early celebration. We went to many "sightseeing" attractions. We didn't mind being tourists and thankfully the weather (mostly) cooperated. 

Some attractions we chalked off to "once only," partly because they were pricey and they are now categorized as "been there, done that" experiences. One is the land-water tour we took in the "duck" boat pictured below. It travels on Boston city streets  before going into the Charles River. 
We also rode in another bird-themed vehicle that cruises the lagoon in the Boston Public Garden on a 12-15 minute operator-pedaled ride. (More on both in a future post.)

Getting to Boston is relatively easy and inexpensive from Nashua, NH. The Boston Express bus offers a reduced senior rate; round trip costs $13 and takes about an hour each way. It's much less costly than driving and parking a car with free parking in the bus lot.  

We stayed at the Omni Parker House for this pre-anniversary celebration of our 1st date, which we plan to celebrate again this month. We met in NJ, 21 years ago this month. 

Founded in 1855 by Harvey D. Parker, the hotel is the oldest of Boston’s elegant inns and the longest continuously operating hotel in the U.S. The contemporary, full-service hotel has maintained its 19th century sense of history. The lobby has vintage oak with overhead crystal chandeliers and oversized chairs and elevators have decorative bronze.

The hotel has hosted famous folks over the years including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, James Dean, Ann-Margret, and Yo-Yo Ma to name a few.

The Parker House kitchen is renowned for the Parker House Roll. It's also where Boston Cream Pie (official State Dessert of Massachusetts) was perfected. BCP was a letdown for us. First, because it wasn’t a pie, but cake with a custard filling. Second, it needed more filling and chocolate.

The term “scrod,” is associated with the Parker House too and there's no such fish. Years ago fishing schooners would return to the Boston fish pier, loaded with fish to be auctioned off. Fancy hotels like the Parker House wanted choice, fresh fish from the top layers. The problem was that the chefs didn't know what sort of fish would be on the top layer. If the menu featured haddock and the top layer was pollack, it might work other places, but not in Boston. A new name was coined for the seafood, and scrod derived as a contraction of “sacred and cod.” 
We enjoyed this champagne toast in our room, courtesy of the Parker House. (When celebrating an occasion like a birthday or anniversary mention it to a restaurant when dining out or your hotel, if traveling.) We shared with hotel reservations that was an anniversary tripand received a mini bottle of champagne and Boston cream pie.

There'll be future posts about the Boston trip, but this week I'm reading and commenting on your blogs. 

Thanks all for your comments on the Olympus Stylus yard sale digital camera bargain. It takes good photos during daytime, but wasn't great in low light situations. These Boston skyscrapers were taken with it on a clear Saturday.
Considering its very low $5 cost, this compact camera was handy to tote around. I'll try some custom settings on future outings.

to be continued . . .