Saturday, October 31, 2020

Let It Snow!

Tis the time for tricks or treats and Mother Nature was a game player this week.

According to the calendar, yesterday was the day before 🎃👻Halloween, but in parts of the Granite State, and here in Nashua, it looked more like the day before Christmas🎄.
The first winter in Nashua usually arrives in December. Some years there has been snow as early November. That said, Mother Nature didn't read those forecasts.
Light snow began falling in the early morning hours after a previous afternoon of rain. While the snow didn't stick to wet roadways, it did accumulate on grassy areas and trees. Accidents were reported as motorists were said to be driving too fast for the conditions.
The snow was lightly falling most of the day with about an inch total. By late afternoon, skies were clearing and snow was falling off most tree branches. Temperatures are expected to climb into the 60s by next week with no further snow forecast (for now).
There wasn't enough snow to consider this a serious snow event, but most of the day, the scene outside our apt windows looked like someone had shaken up a snow globe.

Maybe the next snow event will be at Thanksgiving🦃?
It's been said, that you can't turn back time, but this weekend we'll be turning back many hands of time, unlike singer Cher who wanted to do that in a 1989 tune, If I Could Turn Back Time. My apology, in advance, for any possible ear worm, it wasn't one of my favorites.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Friday Funnies

Look 👀 at who's on Main Street in Nashua, NH —The Great Pumpkin 🎃
You may recall seeing this downtown mesh covered building in a recent post. And, just in time for Halloween festivities this weekend, it was sporting a giant pumpkin face held in place by concrete Jersey barriers and candy corn cones.
As of last week, the fallen brickwork has been repaired on the buildings facade. The building still looks the same with the mesh covering in place but, of course, no pumpkin face. After a few comment suggestions on the earlier photo post, adding one seemed a good idea. After checking through my photos and, luckily, finding a pumpkin face, this was the result.

How was it done?
I'm not the most proficient user of photo editing programs having forgotten more than I remember about Photoshop, used in a college course. But a previous online buy of another photo editor, Pixelmator (like Photoshop, but much cheaper) includes the ability to use layers. This photo manipulation was fun, so now it's time to watch some online tutorials to learn more.

Nashua Scarecrow Winners
Voting is over for the 2020 Nashua Scarecrow Competition (entries shown earlier). This week, the results were posted in two categories: local businesses and non-profit organizations and here's the winners and number of votes for each (imagine a drumroll).

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
We're changing (lots of) clocks this weekend

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Two Firsts Celebrate a First

It's not every year that two first cousins celebrate their 1st 🥳 birthday. These two little girls recently celebrated this very special day — two weeks apart in two different states.

Many regular readers of this blog have seen these little ones before. They're our great nieces, granddaughters of my brother and his wife, who live in NJ. Their mothers are sisters whose husbands are both named Michael (another coincidence).

First to celebrate was Autumn Rose whose birthday was in mid-October. She and her parents, live in NJ.
Last week, there was a second birthday celebration for Savannah Marie with her parents, they live in FL.
Photos were texted courtesy of their parents. Gifts were mailed in advance to both children as, to date, it's been 9 months since we last saw or spent time with any of our families. Like others, we hope it won't be too long before we celebrate special family birthdays and holidays, together.
Happy 1st 🎂 with ❤️

Monday, October 26, 2020

Out and About

As noted in last Friday's post, we went on a weekend adventure. This time it was a craft fair, not just any craft fair, this one was billed as The Great New England Fall Craft & Artisan Show.
It that looks like folks are walking inside a giant tent, you're right. The Hampshire Dome is a 94,000 square foot arena covered by an air supported roof. This indoor sports venue features imitation turf fields, ready for multiple sports including baseball, softball, lacrosse and soccer. There's also a driving range, running track, and a performance and conditioning center. The Dome is part of the Hampshire Hills Athletic Club complex.
Advertisements for the craft fair noted that there would be constant air flow throughout the dome as giant dual cage turbofans would propel up to 44 thousand cubic feet of fresh air per minutes into the Dome. It stated that the Dome exhausted huge volumes per minute to create an air turnover rate while circulating the upper and lower atmospheres inside the Dome to create a breeze throughout it.
While this was billed as a Fall Crafts Fair, there were far more Christmas holiday items available for purchase. That worked for me as I bought 3 hand-made ornaments for the tree we plan to get and decorate this year. Like many others, we'll be home for the holidays, and we're not at all disappointed at that prospect.

Not being sports enthusiasts, we had never heard of the Hampshire Dome until seeing an online notice for this event. Many holiday events usually held in smaller venues like churches, schools, and halls have been cancelled this year due to you-know-what. Holding a large one indoors was quite an accomplishment.
Judging by the nearly filled-up parking lots when we arrived, people were eager to get out and do some pre-holiday shopping or maybe just eager to get out and look around. Lots of shoppers were toting a number of purchases by the time we left, two hours later.
There was a lot to see and all the exhibitor's booths were well-spaced apart. Hand sanitizing dispensers were available, masks were required for both vendors and attendees, and directional arrows indicated the route. Once through, you could re-circulate again as this was not a timed entry event.
A concession area sold food and drinks, but you could also buy sweet treats in the crafts area. One of those giant sized whoopie cakes (right) would set you back $8.50 (each not all).
There was no shortage of vendors selling homemade face masks, especially ones with holiday motifs. The items on the right were a first-time-seen craft, headbands to liven up your Zoom meetings. There were several similar displays during my walk through the fair. This you-know-what situation has spurred on a number of home-based craft businesses.
In March 2017, a nor'easter caused the air-supported roof to de-pressurize and collapse under the weight of blizzard snow and ice from one of the region's worst winter storms. The torn fabric was repaired and no similar forces of nature have caused further damage.
Tis soon-to-be the season for many things bright and joyful. We've seen ads listing at least two more indoor craft shows in late November and early December. Both are in towns not more than 30 to 45 minutes from Nashua, NH, and we're already planning to attend, if possible.

The quality of some images from the craft show are not ideal. There's a reason. Many crafters  prefer that people not take photos of their works, fearing that an original creation would be copied. Many crafts are not original, so at shows, like this one, there's similar or identical works. 

My interest in photo taking is only to show things seen with no plans to duplicate them. Rather than have someone say no photos, I use auto focus and shoot quickly in available light and hope that auto focus works, in some cases it's less focused fuzzy. (I always abstain and honor a vendor's request if there's a sign stating No Photos.)

How about You — Planning to get out to any seasonal events available in your area? 

Friday, October 23, 2020

They're Back

Just when you thought you had seen enough scarecrow photos on this blog for the month. Here's a final one for your enjoyment — it's possibly the last one too.

October scarecrows have made a return appearance along Main Street in downtown Nashua, NH. Hoisted onto lamp posts a couple of weeks ago, they'll remain until after Halloween. In keeping with the times now, many are sporting masks, like the local pharmacy entry above. 

Local business, civic groups, schools and restaurants contributed to this seasonal scarecrow crop. Voting is online and ends this week. Winners get the glory of knowing they've beat all the others this year. And, who wouldn't want that claim to fame?

Today, I checked the online voting stats and, not surprisingly, a dance academy is in the overall lead with 600 votes. It's the middle entry ↑ above with the dancer missing a shoe.

The reason for the not surprisingly comment was because in the past 4 years of this annual downtown competition, a school entry — think lots of student and parent votes — has always won the top spot honor.
Local civic group entries include (L to R), The Humane Society for Nashua, Greater Nashua Habitat for Humanity, and Nashua Lions Club which was the vote leader in this grouping as of mid-week, but anything could happen in a day or two before voting ends. 
Schools are not the only entries garnering big numbers this year. Casey Magee's Irish Pub (R), a downtown eatery that opened in late spring, was solidly in second place with over 440 votes. It's one of only two restaurant entries this year. The other one, The Peddler's Daughter (top R) was trailing by 300 points. Apparently, restaurant and bar patrons are great vote getters.
The astronaut was in honor of a popular Nashua, NH, alderman (council member) who died in 2018 and had a passion for space and astronomy. It was out polling two competitors above from a local modeling studio (middle) and jewelers (R) by well over 100 votes. 
These cornstalk figures were not faring well in this year voting. The one on the left by a local realtor had less than 12 votes as of mid-week. The one on the right by a local herbal therapy shop had almost 50 votes. 
The Academy for Science and Design, a public charter school, (top middle) was besting Sunrise Orthotics (L) and Southern NH Health (R). Once again, the leader here is a school entry. 
Scarecrow entrants from (L to R) The Granite State Taxi Co, Nashua Senior Center, and Bar Harbor Bank & Trust were masked up, although it's safe to say they were practicing social distancing on their respective light posts. In this group, the senior center entry was leading.

Unlike a couple of years past, Clocktower Apartments, our residence, didn't have an entry. Getting resident participation was an issue, so management didn't participate this year.

Nashua Scarecrow winners will be announced the end of this week. I'll share in a future post. Sorry, I fibbed and won't be quite done with scarecrow photo posts until then.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone.
We may attend an indoor craft event 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Art in the Woods

Entrance to Brookline, NH, Sculpture Park
Imagine hiking (in our case slowly walking) through a woodland trail in a small NH town and seeing more than
 100 sculptures of stone and metal where, years ago, skiers sped down steep runs.

You may be curious about where it came from and how it got to Brookline, NH?

In our case, curiosity led to (no surprise) another day trip, just a 30 minute drive from Nashua, NH. What we found were amazing pieces of art in an incredible outdoor sculpture park. For over 20 years, new and unique works have been created and installed in the woods.

It's called the Brookline Sculpture Park and it's considered New England's largest outdoor sculpture park. What started as several works of art in a front yard is now an outdoor museum with artwork among trails criss-crossing the mountain.This open air museum is free and open to the public year-round, dawn to dusk. Donations are always welcome.

Our visit started with a map downloaded from the park's website; copies were also available at a kiosk in the parking area. Truth is we felt that the map was more confusing than helpful and found it easier to explore the trails with a hiking app. Afterwards, we learned that the Trailforks app was recommended for use on the trails. Unfortunately, we hadn't downloaded it earlier and there's no wi-fi in the park. Thankfully, Grenville had MapMyHike, another hiking app which helped us navigate around. We've since downloaded the other app for another visit.

What is It?

The Sculpture Park, is located on the grounds of the Andres Art Institute. Artists worldwide have contributed pieces to this collection of metal and stone sculptures spread over the hills of a former ski area. The pieces can be seen along 11 hiking trails which range from easy to difficult. The views change with the seasons.

New works are created and installed yearly, some can be more abstract than others. While we could "see" the meaning in a number of the sculptures, there were many where even checking the title of the piece wasn't helpful to us.
Each year's artwork come from returning as well as new artists invited to visit Brookline for three weeks to create sculptures for permanent display. Over the years, participating sculptors have traveled from Lithuania, Latvia, England, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Egypt, Greece, Chile, and many U.S. states. In non-pandemic times, the public would be invited to watch the artists work and to join guided tours of the collection. Now, visitors walk the trails on their own as we did.

Paul Andres & John Weidman

Who Started It?
The Sculpture Park was the brainchild of engineer and innovator Paul Andres, who purchased a large tract of land on Big Bear Mountain in Brookline, NH in 1996. He moved into a house near the top of the mountain and started buying sculptures to place around the yard of his home. This large property was formerly part of Brookline Ski Area, one of the first ski-lift areas in New England. It later became a larger regional operation called Big Bear and later Musket Mountain. The ski area closed in 1984.
Andres combined his love of nature and art and added more sculptures to create a personal sculpture park. In 1998, he joined with sculptor and long-time Brookline resident John Weidman and they co-founded the Andres Institute of Art as a 501(c) (3) charitable organization to sponsor annual sculpture symposiums. 

At a symposium, sculptors gather to work and produce a permanent individual piece of public artwork. A sculpture symposium has been called the sculptor's fantasy come true. In 1959, the International Sculpture Symposium movement was spearheaded by Austrian sculptor Karl Prantl. 

Coincidentally, the first International Sculpture Symposium in the U.S. was held in New England in Proctor, VT in 1969 under the joint sponsorship of the Vermont Marble Company. 
Since then, international sculpture symposia have been held in towns and cities worldwide, including in Nashua, NH. The most recent one was in Sept and the works have been installed within the city.

The first Brookline, NH, sculpture symposium was held in 1999. Seven artists from Lithuania, Latvia, England, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Vermont, and NH stayed with local families and worked to create sculptures that were placed on permanent display on the mountain. At first, most town residents were unaware of what was happening on Big Bear Mountain as sculptors cut, bent, and welded steel; split, shape, ground and polished stone. 

Volunteers prepared the sites and later moved the completed pieces from the studio with heavy equipment. As years passed, the Sculpture Park has made Brookline, a destination for many.

How It Started

Once a year, up to 4 artists from the U.S. and other countries are invited to travel to Brookline, NH, to immerse themselves in its rural character and create art within a 3-week timeframe. The invitation is part of the Bridges and Connections International Sculpture Symposium sponsored by the Andres Art Institute.

Artists are housed with local residents who sponsor their stay, and work with volunteers who groom and prepare sculpture sites, and operate the heavy equipment needed to properly place the works, some of which are very hefty weighing several tons.

According to the Institute’s website, artists receive a small stipend, and are free to create what they like, then to place it where they want. The Institute provides tools and materials.

Hiking along the network of trails was an interesting experience. Some sculptures seemingly  speak shouted out their presence; others remained silent sentries. After all, art is subjective. Our trails exploration was done randomly without checking off each piece we saw. This brought some unexpected discoveries as, more than a few times, we nearly bypassed a sculpture. One of the goals of the Sculpture Park is to include art in nature so that it's unobtrusive. We felt it succeeded.

Arriving for our weekday late morning visit, the lower parking lot was nearly full, luckily an earlier visitor was just driving out. We noticed an equal number of NH and MA license plates; the park is close to the border of both these states. It was very easy to enjoy a socially distanced outdoors adventure. Visitors were requested to keep 6 feet distance between those not in their group and to wear masks, if this wasn't possible. While visitors were walking the trails, it was a rather silent environment. Taking time to rest on one of the well-placed stone benches, we chatted with a few visitors who were doing the same.

Sculptures came into view as we walked slowly and carefully along the winding, root-filled and quite rocky trails. The aptly named Quarry Trail had large rock piles, remnants of a former quarry at the site. Some of the sculptures had identifying details, others did not, many had enigmatic titles. We saw works by artists from NH, Zimbabwe, England, Iran, Canada, India, Ireland, Italy and Iceland among other countries.

Follow-up visits definitely are needed to see more of the park because the trails dis take us longer to hike when side steppings rocks and roots (bring hiking poles). We hiked for well over 2 hours (with photo and rest stops) and figure that we saw less than half of the sculptures scattered within the park's acreage.

Park trails are open from dawn to dusk daily, though the studios are closed. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no portable toilets on site. Admission is Free and donations are encouraged at a parking lot sculpture that includes a metal mailbox. 

For most people, a donation is well worth the enjoyment of not only being able to walk around outdoors, but to see very unusual, creative, and beautiful sculptures, so close to home.

This was one of several sculptures that we easily recognizable with no information needed.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Duck, Duck

Thousands of yellow ducks, an estimated 7,000, went for a swim in the Nashua River this past weekend. 

No, these were not bathtub escapees. 

The Ducktober Derby was a planned swim event. The 3rd annual fundraiser event sponsored by the Rotary Club of Nashua West. For the past few months, members have been selling rubber duck sponsorships at $5 for a single rubber duck with discounts for multiple buys of a six-quack (6), quackers dozen (12), and flock (25).
Right on schedule at 2 pm on Saturday, the duck flotilla was released dumped into the Nashua River below our mill apt. Crowds gathered on the Main Street bridge and along the riverbank to cheer on the race entrants which silently floated to the race end, a barrier near the bridge. We noticed there were fewer onlookers than in previous years, a pandemic side effect.
Duck wranglers in kayaks rounded up the first 3 ducks that floated to the finish line and netted sponsors cash prizes of $2,500, $1,000 and $500. Our ducks were not winners (again this year). Monies raised from the duck derby will go to support local non-profit organizations.

Despite so many cancelled events this year, this one was a short, fun one enjoyed outdoors. All ducks were safely retrieved with no reported injuries.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Friday Funnies

Scarecrows are everyone this month, especially here in New England.

Yesterday's post included info about The Silent People, a very large group of scarecrows that stand in a field off a highway outside of Suomussalmi, Finland. These are not some of them. 
We won't be traveling abroad any time soon (like many others) and spotted this much smaller crowd of scarecrows at the Brookdale Fruit/Farm market in Hollis, NH. 
This is the season for scarecrows, pumpkins and hay bales. This farm stand had everything in season, including a giant hay bale figure with pumpkin eyes, acorn squash nose and a corn cob smile, who "posed" for a photo with Grenville.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
There's a Duck Derby & virtual ArtWalk in Nashua, NH