Friday, September 27, 2019

Friday Funnies

This gives new meaning to the expression when pigs fly.

The phrase is an adynaton (late Latin meaning impossibility) which describes a figure of speech in the form of a hyperbole that when taken to extreme lengths describes a near impossibility. The implication of such a phrase is that the circumstances in question will never occur. The "when pigs fly" expression has been used in since the 1600s as sarcasm. (no kidding).

Enjoy your Weekend, Everyone.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A NH Town Celebrates

Many of us have grown up seeing a parade at some time in our lives, whether in our hometown or someplace else. Who doesn't like a parade?

That's why this post is about a special parade and celebration last weekend in a town about 20 miles from Nashua. Grenville had volunteered to help with traffic management through the Nashua Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and so I went along as a spectator.

Brookline, NH, celebrated its 250th "birthday" with one of the biggest and longest parades I can remember in a very long time — way back to my childhood in fact. 

Back then, my Plainfield, NJ hometown always had a great July 4th celebration complete with marching bands, floats, rescue vehicles and firetrucks that always sounded sirens at the end of the parade (remember when). 

Brookline did it up BIG time last Saturday with marching bands, classic cars, army vehicles, tractors, floats, colorful marchers, beauty queens, classic characters and more.

In its early years, the town was first a part of Dunstable, MA, then later was settled as West Hollis, NH. In 1769, the town was called Raby by NH Governor John Wentworth who named it after his cousin, the 4th Earl of Strafford and Baron of Raby Castle. 

The town was renamed in 1798 at the suggestion of a leading citizen in town originally from Brookline, Massachusetts. By 1859, when the population was 718, there were eight sawmills and one gristmill, as well as a sash and blind shop. 

Many years ago, Brookline was known throughout southern NH for producing lumber, charcoal and casks.The Boston and Maine Railroad eventually branched into Brookline in 1892. A large fraction of the area that was once railroad track is now NH Route 13. The former train station is now a private residential home. 

In 1960, Brookline’s population was just under 800; it's now at 5,000 and a lot of those residents lined the street for last weekend's festivities. There's no real "downtown" here. The parade was along the town's main road where the town's library, town hall, and a middle school are located.  

Many colorful and well-known characters walked the route, including Spiderman, Snow White, Elmo, Big Bird, Smokey the Bear and others.

There was a lot of interesting vehicles, including the Ghostbusters car. 
No parade would be complete without military vehicles and men in uniform. 
 Red and green tractors were driven in the parade.

There was no shortage of musical entertainment along the parade route with bagpipes, Dixie Land Tunes and others.
The Alepo Shriners traveled from Wilmington, MA, but not in the small vehicles they rode along the parade route, all of which arrived in three large tractor trailers. 
Beauty queens smiled and waved as they rode in convertibles. 
There were many vintage fire trucks from various neighboring communities.
Their modern day counterparts were also seen.  
As noted earlier, this was a long parade on a very warm Saturday afternoon. Temps in the mid to high 80s made it felt more like summer than fall weather. But the participants and parade goers, including myself, enjoyed a wonderful celebration of community spirit.

Happy šŸŽ‚ Birthday to Brookline, NH  

Monday, September 23, 2019

Visit to a Castle in the Clouds

That's the name it goes by, but it's not really a castle as you would imagine — not like ones from stories or in photos. Instead, this "castle" we toured last week is right here in NH.
Rather than an actual castle, it's a large mountaintop mansion built by a self-made New England millionaire. It's open to the public under the name Castle in the Clouds. Views from this mountaintop estate were nothing less than spectacular during our visit.

It was named Lucknow by its owners, Thomas and Olive Plant, who built their country estate from 1913-1914 on a mountaintop  in Moultonborough, NH, overseeing Lake Winnipesaukee. We learned both about the home's history and the man who built it during our visit. 
The original 6,300-acre property featured the 16-room mansion, stable, garage, two gatehouses, a 100-foot greenhouse, farm buildings, an 18-hole golf course, tennis court, man-made lake, and 45 miles of carriage and bridle trails. The name is believed to to be after the city of Lucknow in India. 

Plant, a native of Bath, ME, worked in several factories including one in which he learned all aspects of the shoe business. After winning a bet, he invested in a shoe factory, become owner by the age of 32, renamed it, and then made his fortune manufacturing shoes under the Queen Quality label. The shoes were made exclusively for women and were widely advertised in leading publications of the time, including McClure's Magazine.
Queen Quality Shoe Ad: Internet Source
The Thomas Plant Shoe Factory in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston, MA, was said to be the world’s largest shoe factory of the time with over 4,000 workers and an estimated annual output of over 3 million shoes. It was designed by the architectural firm of Frederick Law Olmsted of Brookline, MA, designers of NYC's Central Park and the Fenway in Boston. Housed in a six-story building, the plant covered 13-acres with a library, gym, swimming pool, billiards room, dance hall, barber shop, bowling alley,  nursery and kindergarten and a staffed medical facility. (By the 1970s, the former shoe factory was used as artist workspaces. It burned in February 1976 in a spectacular fire reported to be arson. The site was redeveloped as a strip mall in the 1990s.)
Thomas Plant Shoe Factory, MA: Internet Source

Plant retired at the age of 51 in 1910, after selling his factory to United Shoe Machinery Company for millions after years of litigation and industrial confrontation. He used the money to build his estate in the Arts and Crafts style. Construction elements were reflective of Norwegian, Swiss, Norman and Japanese architecture. 

The Arts and Crafts period has been defined as a social and artistic movement in the second half of the 19th century. It emphasized a return to handwork, skilled workmen, and attention to design in the decorative arts and was a seen as a reaction against a decline in standards associated with machinery and factory production. In the U.S., this style was often called Mission style. 

Designed by the Boston architectural firm of J. Williams Beal & Sons, the house exhibits skilled hand craftsmanship in its interior and exterior design. An estimated 1,000 workers were on-site at one time. 
Lumber for the interior and exterior woodwork in the mansion was cut from the property and hand-hewn in the shipyards of Bath, ME, before being shipped back to the site by railroad, boat and horse.
According to Plant in 1924: “These men are skilled in the shaping and fastening together of ship timbers with oaken dowels; work that lasts a lifetime.” 

The mansion's exterior construction was with steel beam and terra cotta blocks. Interior work was done using hand-cut stone and hand-scalloped oak timber framing. The stone exterior is made from granite cut from the surrounding mountains. These stones were hand-carved by Italian stone masons. 

We learned that on a good day, these masons would cut and lay in place no more than three stones. Plant was said to have instructed that the stones be shaped primarily as pentagons, symbolizing the five great powers of the world — at that time the Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

Furnishings were handcrafted by the best artisans of the time. The interiors featured Tiffany-designed glass. State-of-the-art appliances and modern technologies were installed throughout the mansion. 
Lucknow was one of the first homes to have a working telephone and electricity, which was powered by a water-powered generator. Other modern features included a circular shower, central vacuum system, self cleaning stove, and a brine cooled refrigerator. There was also a small hidden room in the library, where Plant reportedly would retreat (lower left photo below)

Thomas and Olive Plant lived at Lucknow with a staff of more than 25 servants until overspending and poor financial decisions left them in financial ruin by the end of the 1920s. Plant lost a considerable amount of his wealth investing in Russian bonds and in Cuban sugar. He declared bankruptcy after the 1929 U.S. stock exchange collapse.
Realizing his financial predicament, Plant tried unsuccessfully to sell the estate from the mid-1920s through the Great Depression. Bank creditors allowed the couple to remain living there as the estate was dissolved. Plant died broke in 1941 and afterwards, the estate was foreclosed. According to local stories, a collection was taken among neighbors and friends to pay burial expenses. His widow relocated to family in another state. Creditors auctioned off the furnishings and the mansion was sold. 

Internet source
For 15 years after Plant’s death, Lucknow was the summer home of Fred and Susan Tobey of Plymouth, NH, and their extended family. In 1956, the estate was sold to Richard and Donald Robie, and in 1959, they opened it to the public under the name, Castle in the Clouds. Richard Robie, Jr. continued operations until 1991 when the Castle Acquisition Partnership purchased the estate to develop Castle Springs bottled water, it continued to operate it as a tourist attraction and also included a bottling plant tour. In 1995, the Lucknow Brewery was added, but it shut down in 2002 due to lack of sales. 

Castle in the Clouds is now owned and operated by the Castle Preservation Society, a private non-profit corporation which manages the historic building and grounds. Preservation has been an ongoing process due to wood rot, water damage, and vandalism over the years. The mansion, carriage house, gift shop, cafe and patio are open to the public from late May to early October. In 2018, the estate was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.

Our first-time visit was extra special because we shared it went with two Oregon friends, Thomas and Nancy, who we visited last year during our cross-country road trip.
This year they reciprocated and spent a couple of days in NH, including an afternoon and evening in Nashua. While here they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and are now on the road homeward bound. Over the weekend, they texted that they were driving through the Great Smokey Mountains.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday Funnies

Perfect color for the season and the license plate is quite descriptive too.

This photo was taken on a recent walk in downtown Nashua, NH.

Enjoy Your weekend, Everyone

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Autumn is Outside Our Door

Autumn has arrived and that means changing the decorations outside our apartment entry. Since we don't decorate for the season inside the apartment, this grouping greets us (and others) daily. The tall scarecrows, which have been hanging out for several fall seasons, were joined by a couple of smaller versions this year.
This frog and penguin always hang out outside our door and also have some companions.
There's more scarecrows and pumpkins on the walls and our front door. 
This overall photo shows the entire seasonal scheme, which was really low-cost. All the scarecrows, pumpkins, fall leaves, and wall plaques were from a local dollar store. The penguin and frog statues and the garden flags traveled from VA with us. 
How about you — any fall decorations outside your doorway?

Monday, September 16, 2019

Oldest NH State Park

On a recent Sunday drive we visited Miller State Park, the oldest state park in NH, located on the 2,290-foot summit and flank of Pack Monadnock in Peterborough, NH. The park is named for James Miller, a native of Peterborough, who was a brigadier general in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812 and later the first Governor of Arkansas Territory.

Pack Monadnock Mountain in Southern NH is famous for its nature trails, and scenic views. It's the highest summit on the Wapack Trail, the first interstate trail system in the U.S. This 21-mile footpath that extends from Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham, MA to North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield. 

We enjoyed some great views for awhile, before the rainstorm arrived.

The unusual name is believed to originate from the Abenaki, Native American Indians who settled in the area. According to local tradition, the word pack is a Native American word for little and monadnock is used to describe an isolated mountain summit. Pack (or little) Monadnock refers to its relationship to the higher Mount Monadnock which is 3,165 feet and 11 miles to the West.

Pack Monadnock has a paved auto road This winding 1.3-mile road that leads to the scenic summit is open in summer and on spring and fall weekends. Admission is $3 for adults; $1 for children ages 6-11; children ages 5 and under. And in all NH State parks, NH residents age 65+ (like ourselves) are admitted free. No camping is allowed.

Three main hiking trails ascend Pack Monadnock to the summit. All three trails are similar in length (1.5 to 2.0 miles each way) and moderately difficult with some steep pitches. Any trail can be completed as a loop or an out-and-back. The auto-road can be walked or driven. We didn't hike during our visit. Grenville was on the mountain for a ham radio activation. I did a (very) brief exploration of nearby trails, but didn't venture far off the trails due to posted warnings about ticks and poison ivy.
I read that many years ago two hotels were located; however there was no historical evidence to show their locations. Today, a renovated fire tower at the summit provides a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside including Mount Monadnock.

Other peaks and hills of southern NH and adjacent MA can be viewed, Mount Monadnock, Mount Kearsarge, Mount Cardigan, Mount Watatic, Mount Watchusett, and the Boston skyline. On clear days, the views reach Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S., Boston skyscrapers, and hills in VT.

We're planning a return trip later this fall and hope to see migrating raptors at the park's Raptor Observatory hosted by NH Audubon. Audubon members staff the summit through the beginning of November to count raptors and discuss the project with visitors. 
A series of rainstorms were on the way, so we made a quick retreat down the mountain.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday Funnies

There are two months with a Friday the 13th in 2019, the first one is todayAnd, the second 13th follows in December.

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of number 13, while Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13. It comes from the Greek, ParaskevĆ­ for Friday and dekatreĆ­s for thirteen. It's been estimated that less than 10% of people in the U.S. share this phobia. (Are you or anyone you know in this group?)

Hopefully, this colorful trio won't be stirring up much any unwanted trouble today.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

(The Witches’ Spell, William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act IV, Scene 1)

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone.
(Steer clear of any trio with a cauldron)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Blueberry Yogurt Cake

What's not healthful about yogurt and blueberries?
When both are combined in a loaf cake, it's even better and maybe healthy?

Most likely you've come across berry cake recipes in your recipe files, online, or have a family favorite. For me, this was a new one, to try and share with friends and bloggers. (Sorry no taste sample. Grenville did that cause he's nice that way.)

This recipe was in Fresha free monthly magazine from Hannaford supermarket with recipes and healthy eating info. I used  wild blueberries we had picked near the mill apts. We has been invited to dinner and this was dessert — topped with vanilla ice cream. What's not healthy about that combo? (No need to answer that.)

Before starting a recipe, I read it through, assemble needed ingredients, and prepare as much as possible in advance — the term for this is Mise en place. (Grenville never does this claiming that it clutters his work space). Everyone has his/her own methods.

A French term, Mise en place (literally "set in place") applies to having all ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated before cooking starts. Pans are prepared and mixing bowls, tools and equipment set out. 

Brown-Butter Blueberry Yogurt Cake
Whole-milk Greek yogurt results in a super-moist cake, but low-fat will also work, if preferred. If you prefer raspberries vs. blueberries, swap them in and add 20-30 minutes to the baking time. You'll need 1 full stick of butter (8 TBSPs). Recipe serves 8.

Cake Mix
6 TBSP unsalted butter
1 Cup whole-milk (or low-fat) plain Greek Yogurt
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1-3/4 Cup all purpose flour
2 Cups fresh blueberries 

Streusel Topping
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1/3 Cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 Cup walnuts, chopped fine
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Cake Ingredients
Center a rack in oven; heat to 325℉ degrees. Press single large piece of parchment paper into 9x5 loaf pan and let sides overlap over long side of pan.

Melt butter in small skillet over medium-high heat, swirling until sputtering subsides. Continue to cook, scraping ottom of pan often until butter turns golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Quickly scrape butter and browned solids into heatproof bowl; cool 5 minutes.

Whisk yogurt, sugars, eggs, baking powder, vanilla and salt in large bowl until combined. Continue to whisk, slowly add browned butter and browned solids, until blended.

Using rubber spatula to gently fold in flour until barely combined. Don't over-mix batter which will be thick and lumpy. Gently fold in 1-1/4 cups of blueberries, then transfer to prepared pan and spread in even layer, pressing better into corners. Scatter remaining 3/4 cup of blueberries on top; gently press into batter.

Streusel Ingredients
Wipe out skillet, add butter and melt over medium heat. Remove from heat, add remaining streusel ingredients; stir to combine. Spoon mix over top of batter, gently press down.

Transfer to oven and bake 60-70 minutes until toothpick in center comes out mostly clean (few moist crumbs OK). If streusel starts to turn dark, loosely cover top of pan with foil.

Cool in pan 15 minutes, use parchment overhang to lift cake out. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour, 30 minutes (per recipe).

Per serving: 460 calories, 18g fat, 350mg sodium, 69g carb, 2g fiber, 40g sugar, 7g protein

It was delicious and yes, we did share with our friends — they had the ice cream !