Friday, February 26, 2021

Friday Funnies

Spring may be coming sooner than the calendar date if these kayakers are any indication. 
The mallard ducks, frequent river users now, watched from icy sidelines. Yes, I also wondered what the ducks were thinking!
This colorful kayaking group was spotted on the Nashua River midweek when temps reached a daily high of 45 degrees. Both the kayakers and the ducks were in approximately the same area, but I couldn't get a complete shot of both, so this is a collage photo. Yes, also wondered what the ducks were thinking!

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Predicted to be a rainy one in Nashua, NH

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A(nother) New England Castle

If you've been reading this blog awhile you already know that we enjoy visiting castles. No, we haven't travelled abroad (sigh) all our castle-ventures have been here in New England. Who knew these treasures were only a few hours away? We know and now you do as well.

Our previous castle ventures were within NH and MA, no more than 2-1/2 hours drive time.
Several New England "castles"
In late 2020, we visited three local castles. Madame Sherri's Castle in Chesterfield, NH. An elaborate 3-story party house built in the woods in the 1920s where NY costume designer Antionette Sherri hosted elaborate parties. Bancroft's Castle built on a hilltop in Groton, MA, in 1906 by William Bancroft as a lavish turn-of-the-century retirement estate. Hammond Castle in Gloucester, MA, built from 1926-1929 as the home and laboratory of John Hays Hammond, Jr., an inventor and pioneer in the study or remote control. The first two are now in ruins, destroyed through fire and vandalism. The last is now a museum.

Each of their respective owners considered their home as their castle, doesn't everyone

Our latest castle venture was a 3-day stay at the Norumbega Inn in Camden, ME, a 3-hour drive from Nashua, NH, the farthest castle-venture to date. This short trip was to co-celebrate my recent birthday and was a pre-Hearts Day celebration, any excuse reason for a short trip these days.
Norumbega Inn B&B, Camden, ME
Unlike those previous ones, we were able to stay overnight in this one. As the only guests one night, we actually had the run of the castleThis getaway co-celebrated my recent birthday and was our pre-Hearts Day celebration.
Vintage postcards of Norumbega and Penobscot Bay
The Norumbega Inn was formerly the home of inventor Joseph Barker Stearns, who had it built from 1886-1887 to resemble a European castle. Like many castles, the Norumbega sits atop a rise. This one overlooks Penobscot Bay. The 10,330 square foot Victorian was one of mid-coast Maine's most elaborate 19th-century houses.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, it's now a bed and breakfast inn.

Joseph B. Stearns
Stearns, a native of Weld, ME patented duplex telegraphy and licensed it worldwide. He studied
 at a Newburyport, MA, firm and later became office manager. In 1854, he worked at the Fire Alarm Telegraph Company, Boston, MA, and 
from 1855 to 1869 was superintendent of the company. Stearns was the first to take out patents on the use of reversed currents in connection with the fire alarm signal system. 

He was president of the Franklin Telegraph Co. from 1869-1871 where he invented the first practical duplex telegraphy system. This system allowed two messages to be sent over the wire at the same time. Before the invention of the telephone, the telegraph was the main method of communication. The problem was that messages could only travel down a wire one at a time. Stearns solved that dilemma. This one invention secured his fortune. Stearns sold rights to the Western Union Telegraph and Cable Companies. He also received royalties from governments in England, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Russia and India.
Prototype of duplex telegraph
After selling his invention, Stearns traveled throughout Europe working on business projects for Western Union. His estate was influenced by historic castles he saw in these travels. Retiring in 1885, he bought a tract of land in Camden, then had Norumbega designed and built. He lived there a decade before his death on July 4, 1895.

Norumbega estate and grounds, Camden, ME

esigned by NYC architect Arthur Bates, the home featured a stone and wood facade. It's no surprise that the house (like all good castles) had a turret. The center section rises three stories, and is topped by a stepped gable. The right section has a projecting section topped by a turret.
Oak woodwork in Norumbega
The elaborately finished wood-laden interior had the latest innovations in modern homes of the period such as electric lights and steam heat. This beautiful and intricate woodwork was seen throughout the house.
Main sitting room at Norumbega
The common rooms on the first floor has a main sitting room with a fireplace, grand piano, also a  reading area supplied with books and games. There's a breakfast room and formal dining room, and fireplaces in each room. 
Staircase, sitting area, basement game, sun room
A basement area has guest rooms plus a common room game and entertainment area. There’s several decks for outdoor seating in warmer weather. Rooms are on the second and third floors. 

Norumbega Inn bedrooms

Penthouse suite
The Norumbega Inn has 11 guest rooms (including two suites) on the second and third floors. Each room is unique with its own style and layout. The Library Suite was the home's library and still has books 
which can be borrowed by guests on an upper level. The uppermost floor has a single Penthouse suite complete with a winding staircase, large sitting room and bay windows with a water view. 

Norumbega reportedly contained a library of 10,000 volumes, and a renowned pottery collection which was exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. His collection of carved ivories was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.
Sunrise views during our stay
Our room on the third floor also overlooked Penobscot Bay. We were awakened to beautiful sunrises like these during our stay.

Early New England map (Internet)
The name Norumbega comes with its own unusual history. According to local legends, it was the name of a magnificent city on the banks of the Penobscot River in the 16th century. 

European explorers told tales of a place where the native Indians were adorned with furs, silver and gold. The legend persisted throughout the 17th century and many early maps referred to all or New England as Norumbega.

The earliest recorded history of the name Norumbega is a similar word spelled Oranbega in Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano's 1529 map of America. The word is thought to derive from one of the Algonquian languages spoken in New England. It could mean quiet place between the rapids or quiet stretch of water.

After Stearns' death, Norumbega remained a private residence for nearly 100 years with several owners in that time. In 1984, it was sold and converted to a B&B. In 1987, it was sold again and run as an inn through the 1990s. After the death of an owner, ownership transferred to the estate's trustees. It continued as an inn until 2005, then was vacant for several years. The current owners renovated and reopened on Memorial Day weekend 2013.

Sagamore Farms, image from collection of Camden, ME, Public Library
Sagamore Farms was a large cattle farm that Stearns owned in Camden. He bought additional tracts of land and operated a large cattle farm that he and his son managed. It was worked by various local families who knew about the dairy farm business. There's no records on how long it ran as a dairy. The buildings survived a 1912 fire, but were completely destroyed in 1932 and the area has largely reverted to woodland. 

Us at Norumbega Inn, Jeep on flatbed, & our rental car
This getaway adventure started off in a rather unsettling way because about 2 hours from our destination, the oil lamp lit up on my 2007 Jeep Liberty. This is never a good thing to happen especially when the car manual advises not to drive the vehicle as further damage could occur. (Did I mention we were a couple hours from our destination?)

All turned out better than expected. The Jeep dealership we use in Nashua, NH, provided the name of a dealership close to our location (York, ME). AAA towed the Jeep and gave us a ride too. Enterprise car rental delivered a minivan (175 miles on odometer) to the dealership. We used it  for 2 days and picked up the Jeep on our way home. The auto problem was a faulty oil receptacle lamp, thankfully not an oil pump issue; it's running fine now.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Friday Funnies

A 1970s song popularized by a Canadian rock band was all about signs. In fact, it was the song title and some of you, myself included, may remember it (more on that shortly).

After recently hearing that song, it made me think of a recent road sign I had seen and snapped for future use. (As I've learned, there is always a someday use.)
Sure enough, I found that use after seeing this car parked in an area lot. The owner apparently didn't see any plan ahead sign, as you can see.

While I was familiar with the song, it wasn't a favorite. Admittedly I didn't know what group had recorded it, so here it is. Sorry, if you later an earwig of Signs playing in your head.
The song is by the Canadian rock group Five Man Electrical Band. It was written by the band's frontman (Les Emmerson) after a California road-trip on Route 66 where billboards obscured the scenery. It popularized the relatively unknown band, who recorded it for a 1970 second album, Good-byes and Butterflies. The song was first released as the B-side to an unsuccessful single. Re-released in 1971 as the A-side, it went to No. 4 in Canada and No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The No. 24 song for 1971, Signs received a gold record.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
It's been a rough one for so many

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Where to Start?

This post was to update our recent getaway, but (as curious as some may be) that post can wait. (Here's a tease, it was within New England and we continued our castle adventures, but more on that later.)

Instead, I wanted to acknowledge your comments on my previous post and
thank everyone for commenting on the status of the vaccine rollout (or not) in your part of the U.S., Canada, the UK and other countries. 

I've read many news reports of the vaccine roll-out, but it's certainly more enlightening to read first-hand experiences. One thing was very clear in your comments — in many states and/or countries, there isn't a uniform system and, in some cases, no system at all. Kudos to the UK and the National Health System as several folks commented on having received notifications for their vaccine appointments. 

Yes, we are thankful that here in NH the roll-out seems to be going well. We've talked to friends within our age group who are either scheduled for or have received a vaccine. There's no choice, it's what's available at your turn. We received the Moderna vaccine; friends had the Pfizer version. The location was the same for all.

But now, there's an additional threat to the COVID-19 vaccination effort in the U.S. — winter weather storms have affected over 100 million Americans, many thousands without power or water due to burst/frozen pipes. Texas is among the hardest hit with power outages. Some other affected states are Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana and Oregon. New England states have been spared this time; forecasts are calling for possible snow this weekend.

Over the past couple of days, we've been reaching out by text messages to family and friends in some of these states, especially those without power. Cell phones are so important at times like this. Friends in TX have texted back that power was out and water pipes were frozen. It really hits home when you receive personal messages like those.

Here's a helpful tip — get yourself one (or more) portable power banks which are relatively inexpensive now. Grenville and I each have a couple of these. Also, be sure to make sure they are fully charged. You never know when your cell phone could become the only method of communication.

OK, this post has rambled on long enough. If anyone you know are in a storm-affected state, we hope that they are as safe as possible or will be very soon. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

One Down

And, one to go, sometime next month.

What I'm referring to the COVID-19 vaccine of which we both received the first shot this past Saturday afternoon. So far, we have not experienced any reactions — none at all. Thankfully, there's been no distressing symptoms for either of us.
Even though this is winter in New England, we received out vaccinations outdoors at a local high school parking lot. We had pre-registered on the VAMS (Vaccine Administration Management) on January 22 under Phase 1B. Grenville signed up and I was a "plus 1" which meant that when he signed up, my name was also included as a spouse.

Once our names were checked off the pre-registered list, we drove into the parking lot, where IDs were checked and we were instructed on what "could" happen after the vaccine was administered.Some family and friends, including fellow bloggers, who have already received both doses reported feeling sick after the second one. The nurse who administered the vaccine told us that over the counter medications, such as Ibuprofen, could be taken to alleviate any temporary discomfort. 

The most common side effects in the arm where the vaccine was administered can include pain, swelling or redness. Side effects throughout the rest of the body can include flu-like symptoms of chills, tiredness, headache or fever. Such side effects can be expected within a day or two of getting the second shot, but should go away within a few days.

In the past, we haven't experienced any after-effects with vaccines for the flu, pneumonia or shingles vaccinations, even when there have been two doses required.

Oddly enough we found people asking us beforehand if we knew which vaccine we would be receiving, Moderna or Pfizer. It seemed like an odd question to us because our reply was a standard: We don't know, but it really doesn't matter as there's no picking a preference. Also, selecting one over the other isn't possible as that depends on where you live and availability.
We received this Vaccination Record Card which was completed at home. We received the Moderna brand vaccine with doses 28 days apart. (By comparison, the first and second Pfizer vaccine shots are spaced 21 days apart.) On the back of this card is written the date and time of our second (and final) which will be on March 13 at the same place and same time as this past weekend. We will be termed fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dosage.

We're very grateful to have pre-registered without much difficulty and hope that, in time, many more folks will be able to register and receive the vaccine. Hopefully, it's one more step to overcoming this pandemic, returning all our lives to normalcy and being able to travel and safely visit family and friends. It's been far too long for all of us.

Comments on a late January post showed that folks in many other U.S. states and Canada either didn't have a scheduled appointment or had not heard when one would be available. Others in the UK had already either been vaccinated or had received notification

How about you — have more of you been able to register in your state or country and receive an appointment date and time? 

Belated Happy ❤️ Hearts Day wishes to all. Ours was spent at home with a wonderful meal prepared by Chef Grenville. Of course, the holiday card fairies left a couple of sweet cards. Our day ended by watching the 1993 film, Sleepless in Seattle, which culminates with a couple (Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan) meeting at the observation deck of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day a remake of the 1957 film, An Affair to Remember (Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr). This film was also remake of a 1939 film, Love Affair (Charles Boyer and Irene Dunn).
Yesterday morning, a fellow resident left off an unexpected treat of home made cookies, some of which we enjoyed as part of our dessert. 
No, we didn't eat all of these on Sunday as we had ice cream already planned for our after dinner dessert. Yes, they were very good.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Friday Funnies

There's was s-no-w time for sitting by the Nashua River side this week despite seating there.

The snow started falling in Nashua, NH, late Monday afternoon and ended on Tuesday morning. It wasn't the heaviest snowfall and estimates were about 12 inches here in the city.

Thanks to everyone for the 🎂 wishes this week, your comments were very much appreciated. Also glad that so many enjoyed the backstory about the birthday song. It was interesting to read about it and my pleasure to share with all.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Some light snow may be in our forecast.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

It's My Birthday

Happy Birthday to You, also known simply as Happy Birthday is a tune traditionally sung to celebrate a birthday, like my own, which is today.

This post is not all about me, instead it's about the Happy Birthday song. But, since it is my birthday, I've included photos of my much younger days, and my question is: When did I become grown up and how can I make it stop?

Did you know that Happy Birthday to You is the most recognized song in the English language guaranteed to make people of all ages smile and sing along? (The second most popular is For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.)

The tune has been sung annually hundreds of times for over a century — in outer space, in baseball stadiums, homes, parties, including famously by a movie star to a U.S. President (Marilyn Monroe to JFK at Madison Square Garden in 1962). It’s been included in all types of tune-playing products, cards, music boxes, toys, games and more. 

These rankings from the Guinness Book of World Records do not mean that either tune is the most popular worldwide, but the most known by the most people. It's been estimated that the birthday song's lyrics have been translated into at least 20 languages.

Where It Started

The most popularly recognized four-line melody dates to the 1890s, but not as the birthday song. It was originally titled, Good Morning to All, and written by two Kentucky sisters, Patty and Mildred Hall, to be used as a classroom greeting from teachers to kindergarten students: Good morning to you/Good morning to you/Good morning, dear children/Good morning to all.

Patty was a nursery school and kindergarten teacher, and later principal at the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten School. Her oldest sister, Mildred, was a composer, organist and music scholar with a specialty in Negro spirituals. Mildred created the melody for Good Morning to All and Patty added the lyrics. 

Their goal was to compose a simple melody that would be easy for young children to sing. The tune had a range of six notes, repetitive lyrics and took about 10 seconds to sing). In 1893, the  song was included in Song Stories for the Kindergarten.

There are various accounts of how Good Morning to All became Happy Birthday to You. In 1924, according to one, the Hill sisters' song appeared without authorization in a songbook edited by Robert H. Coleman. In the book, Coleman used the original title and first stanza lyrics but changed the second stanza's opening line to “Happy Birthday to You.” Thus, the sisters’ line  of“Good morning dear children” became “Happy birthday dear (name).” This new stanza became hugely popular and soon overshadowed the original lyric. 

By the mid-1930s, the tune had appeared in several films, a Broadway musical, and had been used for Western Union’s first singing telegram. It was so widely heard and sung that many assumed it was already in the public domain, but that was not the case.

Copyright and Royalties

When it was used, uncredited and uncompensated, in a 1933 Irving Berlin musical revue, a third Hill sister, Jessica, filed a court suit showing the link between Happy Birthday to You and Good Morning to All, and secured a copyright for her sisters.

Jessica Hill took her sisters’ tune to a Chicago-based publisher, Clayton F. Summy Co., which published and copyrighted it in 1935. Years later, the company was bought and renamed Birch Tree Ltd which retained the publishing rights for Happy Birthday until 1988. That’s when Warner Chappell Music, the largest worldwide music publisher, purchased Birch Tree and claimed copyright for every use (film, TV shows, stage, radio, greeting cards) insisting the lyrics could not be sung for profit without a royalty payment. In 2008, Warner collected some $2 million annually in royalties. Much of it went to the Hill Foundation charity founded in the name of the Hill sisters. The company said that it held the song’s copyright until 2030, which would give it decades to claim royalties on what was considered as the single highest-earning song in history.

What Happened Next
In 2013, Warner Chappell was sued for claiming false copyright on Happy Birthday to You. Copyright law professor Robert Brauneis researched it and cited issues with the song’s authorship and notice and renewal of the copyright. Brauneis wrote that since only certain arrangements of the song were renewed in 1963, the end of the original copyright’s term, the song became part of the public domain. He concluded that it is almost certainly no longer under copyright.  In 2015, a federal court ruled that Warner Chappell's claim to a copyright on the song was invalid and there was no other claim to copyright. Warner Chappell agreed to pay back $14 million in licensing fees. 

Today, the music and lyrics are in public domain in the U.S. and the European Union. In the EU, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. Patty Hill, who died in 1946, was the last surviving author as Mildred had died in 1916. The Hill sisters were posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June 1996. The sisters have no surviving family members.

To this day, no one knows for certain who wrote the new words to Mildred Hill’s melody or when it happened. 

Even the claim that the Hill sisters composed the tune has been argued by those who have stated that the sisters could have copied the tune and lyrical idea from other popular and similar 19th-century songs of the time as Mildred was a musicologist.

The journey of Happy Birthday to You is unique in the history of popular songs. What started as a simple teaching aid tune has now become a worldwide popular standard.

Thanks to the Corona-19 virus pandemic, the song recently has gained another identity. It's become the accompaniment to a hand-washing ritual. That current popularity is due to the fact that (1) nearly everyone knows it by heart and (2) it takes about 10 seconds to sing. If someone sings it twice, that's the time experts have recommended for a thorough hand-washing.

And, now you (and I) know the rest of the story.

If any other fellow blogger has a birthday this month, here's my choice for a birthday song, this 1968 Beatles birthday tune included on The Beatles, also known as the White Album. 

There's no special plans for a celebration today. However, next week we're taking a getaway to a neighboring New England state and will co-celebrate my 🎂 and ❤️ Day.
We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. 
(George Bernard Shaw)