Monday, May 31, 2021

Memorial Day Washout

Example of Nashua street art near the mill apts
Traditionally, this Memorial Day holiday is the start of the summer season with community celebrations, parades and cookouts. And, at long last, a time when folks could start to gather after long year abstinence  of missed social get togethers.

Unfortunately, this holiday was when Mother Nature intervened not in a good way as the weekend weather here in Nashua, NH, and surrounding areas has been windy, rainy, chilly, and very unwelcoming for any outdoor plans, Friday to Monday.

We had no special holiday plans, other than gathering with neighbors riverside to watch a lighted boat parade on the Nashua River and watching fireworks from our apt windows. 

Fireworks were a no-go and the boat event has been postponed until this coming weekend. We'll miss it as we're (finally) returning to our native NJ for a first-time visit since December 2019. It's a way long overdue visit.

Rain, rain go away
And with not much else going on, other than listening to rain pelting the windows all weekend, I decided to post about this U.S. holiday which honors all who died while serving in military service. It’s often confused with another holiday, Veterans Day in November, which by comparison honors all American veterans—living or dead.

This day was originally known as Decoration Day, started in the years after the Civil War to honor only those lost fighting in that war. Back in May 1868, Gen. John Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, officially proclaimed it as such in General Order No. 11 calling for a nationwide day of remembrance and proclaiming The 30th of May 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet church yard in the land.

The date was chosen as it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle. It became Memorial Day by federal law in the 1880’s and became a U.S. federal holiday in 1971.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, where 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Civil War soldiers. New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873. Many northern states held similar commemorations and by 1890 many had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Most Southern states didn't acknowledge the holiday and instead honored their military dead on separate days. That tradition ended after WW as the holiday evolved to commemorate American military from all states who died in all wars.

Today, it’s observed by most every state. Several southern states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas have an added separate day specifically for honoring Confederate war dead.

For decades, Memorial Day was observed on May 30. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act establishing it as the last Monday in May. The change, effective in 1971, declared it a federal holiday making it a three-day holiday weekend for many.

Moina Belle Michael
Many of us have purchased artificial poppies to commemorate Memorial Day. That association is thanks to 
American professor and humanitarian Moina Belle Michael. In November 1918, after reading the poem We Shall Not Sleep (the battlefront themed poem by Canadian army Dr John McCrae later retitled In Flanders Field) she decided to always wear a red poppy to remember those who died in that war.

After WW I, Michael was teaching a class of disabled servicemen, and saw a need to provide them with support. This lead to the her idea of selling silk poppies to raise funds. In 1921, this effort led to the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans by the American Legion Auxiliary, and later by Earl Haig's British Legion Appeal Fund (later The Royal British Legion).

VA garden poppy
Michael further pursued the idea of wearing red poppies on Memorial day to honor all those who died serving the nation in war time. She sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.

Shortly before Memorial Day 1922, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) became the first organization to nationally sell poppies. Two years later the Buddy®️Poppy program was selling artificial poppies made by disabled veterans. In 1948, the US Post Office honored Ms Michael for her role in founding the National Poppy movement by issuing a red postage stamp with her likeness.
Currently, the Memorial Day tradition has expanded to include the annual “National Moment of Remembrance” which asks Americans to pause for a minute at 3 p.m. (when most are enjoying time off) to remember those who died in military service. The Moment was enacted into law by Congress in December 2000.

This year, Memorial Day observances in many NH towns have been scaled back or cancelled. Here in Nashua, the annual parade was called off for the second consecutive year as officials cited the difficulty in trying to keep participants and spectators safe. We attended the last Memorial Day Parade in 2018. Events such as wreath-laying services were scheduled, but the foul weather most likely will deter attendees. 

Nashua honors military veteran or active duty service members through a Military Banner Tribute Program run by the Nashua Division of Public Works that launched last summer. It features the name, photo and military history of 38 active duty members/veterans on banners hung along the 1.8 mile newly renamed Veterans Memorial Parkway. Banners purchased by family members or sponsors will be up from Memorial Day through Veterans Day and given to participants as a keepsake afterwards. (Foul weather prohibited a photo excursion.)

There’s a another memorial display in Hudson, NH, a town about 2 miles from Nashua. Started in 2019, the Field of Honor® is a fundraiser for the local American Legion Post. Each flag honors current active duty members, veterans, or first responders within a 50-mile radius of the town. The flags stand in solemn formation in Library Park 2 weeks before Memorial Day until flag day in mid-June. They are lit at night and will be taken down and stored after the display period.
Nashua River & downtown view on a wet weekend
Rain has continued on and off today. This Sunday scene from our LR window gives some idea of the less than ideal holiday forecast. It's as miserable outside as it looks from indoors.
Our holiday weekend meal
Not to be deterred from enjoying a weekend holiday (or any time) favorite food of hot dogs, Grenville prepared them wrapped in crescent rolls not hot dog buns. My contribution was roasted veggies and roasted cauliflower with barbecue sauce. (We had healthy sides.)

How was your weekend (holiday or not)? We hope, you had better (much) weather than here.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Friday Funnies

This is not a funny photo post, but rather an ironic one at much situations and prices have changed over the past year and more. I've seen sale signs like the ones below in several stores this past week, maybe you have as well in your locales?

It hardly seems that long ago when these items and similar ones were in such short supply. 
Now, local supermarket shelves here are usually well stocked with paper products, including once-hoarded packages of toilet paper and packages of cleaning supplies.
Highly sought after virus protection items are nearly at give-away prices
As of this past Thursday,
 May 27, the City of Nashua lifted its mandatory coronavirus mask and face covering mandate for "vaccinated residents and visitors." The board of alderman amended the city ordinance which was signed by the mayor. 

The amended ordinance states that fully vaccinated persons are no longer required to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors unless required by a specific Nashua business, organization and compliance is mandatory regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated folks are advised to continue to mask up "for their protection and that of others."

So, things are definitely moving along in a better direction and we're on the honor system here to do the right thing.

This Memorial Day weekend will be a happier holiday celebration time compared to 2020. We've no special plans, aside from gathering on the riverwalk near the mill apts on Saturday night to view the first 2021 Nashua River Light Parade with decorated, lighted, and people-powered vessels. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate despite a forecast of rain.

Update the weather will not cooperate with forecasted rain and chilly temps, which have postponed the vessel parade until next weekend. We'll miss it as we're headed to NJ next week to visit family and friends (first time since late 2019). Hopefully, there will be another river event later this summer season.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Things are definitely getting better, day-by-day

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Funky Fun Frolic

As readers of this blog may already know, we planned a(nother) getaway to celebrate the 24th anniversary of our first date. Unlike that many years ago experience in our native NJ, this time we celebrated in New England, specifically VT.

Despite our fondness for lodgings in a castle-like or former mansion B&B, we stayed in a former ski lodge, later an English Tudor Inn, which has reverted to a ski lodge with a fun modern motif. 
The Field Guide Lodge foregoes traditional design for a funky, colorful atmosphere. It's on a small hill on Mountain Ave in Stowe, VT, and definitely unlike the previous lodging at the site. It's ultra-modern, yet casual and comfortable. This visit was definitely modern New England ski-type lodge in a stylish, fun, and relaxed hotel, ideal for those who, like us, enjoy more than a B&B experience, but less than a traditional resort.

There wasn't any history about the former ski lodge (Sans Souci), but there were a number of online photos that showed exterior and interior views of the most recent previous lodging, called Ye Olde England Inne. As seen in online photos it heavily featured lots of dark browns in its decor. 
The former ski lodge was purchased in 1983 by a British couple vacationing in VT and renovated into a classic English Tudor style inn with dark wood moldings and paintings of equestrian scenes, dogs and aristocrats. An in-house restaurant/pub was called Mr. Pickwick’s. This English-themed inn was foreclosed in 2014 with an assessed value of $1.6 million. 

Purchased by a developer for $800,000, Lark Hotels later contracted to buy the property for $1.1 million and by late 2015 completed a $2.5 million overhaul. The Lark Hotels group has lodgings in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Most recently we stayed at the Hotel Portsmouth (NH). Because we liked our stay there, we sought out this hotel. (The veterans military discount and discount card we received from our previous stay were also incentives.)

The 2.5-acre Field Guide Lodge property has guest rooms and suites, a restaurant and bar (now vacant), a whirlpool, covered deck, pavilion and outdoor pool. 
Main desk and lobby of Field Guide Lodge
Orange is the color of choice
The Field Guide Lodge is a bright, contemporary space that was noticeable from the moment we entered the lobby. There was a lot of fuzzy rugs and pillows, artisan furniture, wooden beams, a rack with vintage field magazines, tree stump tables, and bold colors mostly burnt orange and mossy green. We learned these are the signature colors (as if it wasn’t too obvious)
Lobby decor of Field Guide Lodge
Seating areas in main lobby of Field Guide Lodge
There's also high-tech amenities including bathrooms with soaking tubs, flat screen TVs with Apple TV, iPads in each guest room, seasonal pool, year-round outdoor hot tub. Its ultra-modern, yet casual and comfortable. The 30 rooms and suites are decorated with contemporary furnishings and fabrics and playful accents, like cardboard animal heads, photos of skiers and birds (larks) in the woodsy wallpaper. 
The Field House which includes suites of the Field Guide Lodge
We readily accepted an upgrade to a suite in the Field House which included a sitting room with gas fireplace (which we enjoyed one rainy eve while enjoying vintage Hitchcock films), a private deck, oversize soaking tub, and valley and mountain views.
Decor in the Field House suite
One drawback was that an onsite popular, casual eatery known as the Picnic Social was no longer operational. We heard that it was a fun, upscale, casual eatery with outdoor picnic tables on a covered deck. It closed in early 2018 (not COVID related). We were told that plans are underway to reopen a dining area at a TBD future date.
Tables and seating areas in closed Social Picnic restaurant
Once upon a time, breakfast had been served in this defunct restaurant. Now it’s bag & go with a selection of assorted breakfast items available daily in pre-packaged containers. However, this wasn't a below-average selection of packaged goods. We enjoyed raspberry scones, lemon-poppyseed muffins, yogurt and fruit, and deviled eggs and salad. And, we didn't have to go anywhere as tables were available for dining in.
Onion rings & burgers at the Sunset Grill, Stowe, VT
Since this was our anniversary celebration, we wanted to recreate the lunch enjoyed on our first date—burgers and onion rings. After asking at the lodge for a place that served both, we were directed to the Sunset Grill. (This meal was lunch and dinner.)

Our main activity during this getaway was walking in and around downtown Stowe, which we've visited before, along with a road trip to neighboring Waterbury, VT. Stowe is noted for things related to sports and the great outdoors. We saw more cyclists during our short stay here than we've seen in weeks in Nashua, NH.
Stowe (VT) Recreation Path
View of downtown Stowe from Recreation Path
A major Stowe attraction, which is also free, is the 5.3-mile long paved Stowe Recreation Path. It’s open to all age groups for walking, biking, and even snowshoeing in winter. The path crosses over creeks where people can fish (or swim) and offers views of Mt. Mansfield (highest VT) mountain and downtown Stowe.
Part of this walkway called the Quiet Path connects to the Recreation Path. What’s unique about this path compared to the longer Recreation Path is that it's for joggers and walkers only with posted signage to that effect (although we did spot a couple of cyclists).
Little River view from Quiet Path walk
It’s natural surface vs. pavement and winds along the West branch of Little River. The 1.8-mile long path has a lot of interpretive signs and benches to sit and enjoy the views or a picnic lunch.
Grenville met a friendly bear
The hand-carved bench was very unique
What’s unique about the Quiet Path compared to the longer Recreation Path is that this part of the path is for joggers and walkers only with posted signage that no cycles are allowed (although we did spot a couple). Also, unlike the Recreation Path, which requires that dogs be leashed, here they can run free with an owner in attendance. We saw many dogs frolicking in the fields with their doggie friends and owners chatting close by.
In the mid 1870s, the land was agricultural and the farmland was owned by Orlando J. Benson. He had 160 acres of land, with 50 acres of pasture, 30 cows and a sugar orchard. The Mayo family bought the farm in 1925 and it was used primarily for dairy farming until 1986 when pigs continued to be raised there. 
Most predominant wildflowers along our walk
Stowe townspeople heard of possible development plans that included condominiums, a golf course or a commercial horse farm. In 1989, town voters approved buying the 235-acre property, in an effort spearheaded by the newly formed Stowe Land Trust which purchased the Mayo Farm and transferred it to the Town of Stowe. At the time, it was the single largest parcel of land ever purchased solely by a Vermont municipality for conservation and agricultural purposes. 
A plan to develop the Stowe Recreation Path started when traffic on Mountain Road, one of the town's main roadways, became so congested. Pedestrians and bikers were endangered by the vehicles and had to curtail walking and cycling activities. 
At the start, about two and a half miles of the path were paved, along with 16 bridges. Most of the land was donated to allow the construction of the path. Soon, the path became so popular that an extension was planned and later another 2.6 miles were added to it along with four more bridges.
The property is open to the general public for all types of outdoor recreation. Some crops, primarily corn, are still grown in the fields. Public access is sometimes limited or prohibited when agricultural practices, such as harvesting, are being done.
Maple creemees in downtown Stowe (VT)
After walking, we headed downtown to Stowe Mercantile for a treat (after all, this was our celebration road trip). Shown above is our choice of a maple creemee, a swirling tower of maple-flavored soft serve atop a sugar cone, known as soft serve ice cream anywhere other than Vermont.  Why? Because years ago, Vermont ice cream was made with a higher butterfat content than run-of-the-mill soft serve so it was creamier in texture and richer in flavor, and so creemee comes from creamy.
Just to make a couple of New Jersey natives feel at home in New England, we spotted this license plate, which goes to further support that there's always a Jersey connection!

Friday, May 21, 2021

Friday Funnies

It's been awhile for a post with some photo puns, here's images from my some-day Friday Funnies photo files. Several images were taken at flea markets, others on walk arounds. 

Several bloggers previously have asked where the images for these quirky posts were found. The answer is that photo opps are usually in plain sight, just by looking around. I use a digital camera/cell phone (often both) to capture what seem to be fun views, because fun is always needed in my life, perhaps in yours as well. 

The past year (and more) has plane-ly been tough . . .
Everyone has motored on . . .
And, things are looking brighter now . . .
The key(s) is that . . .
Life is (slowly) becoming more pallet-able . . .
It seems less wired . . .
Restrictions have been unlocked  with more to come. . .  
Together, we've got this nailed . . .  
Life is getting better and we're seeing better days . . .

MANY thanks to ALL who posted comments and well wishes on the love locks/anniversary of our first date post. As always, we celebrated that date and this year went on a New England getaway to Stowe, VT.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
We're meeting friends for a BBQ dinner & dominoes

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Locks of Love or Not?

Examples of love locks
Who thinks that a padlock on a chain link fence locks people in love?

The love lock fad has spread throughout Europe and across the globe, including here in the U.S.

Many couples seem to feel that the ultimate symbol of romance is to carve, write, or engrave their names on a padlock, clamp it to a bridge and throw the key into the water. Supposedly, this locks the couple together. The only way to sever the love bond is to retrieve the key and remove the lock. Remember, it's been tossed into a waterway, so there's slim to no chance of retrieval.

As for ourselves, we don't buy into this romantic fantasy which is akin to metal litter. We certainly don't need a lock for prove ❤️ after many years of togetherness. 
Us in much earlier years
That's because today, we're marking a year short of 25 years together. It's not our wedding anniversary that's 22 years in August. Instead, May 16 is the anniversary not only of our 1st date, but of our first in person meet-up.
A look back to other early days after we met
As some regular readers of this blog, may or may not know, we met online and emailed for several months — message exchanges only, no phone calls. This was way before the days of online social media, remember this was nearly 25 years ago and more like the exchanges between Kathleen (Meg Ryan) and Joe (Tom Hanks) in the film You've Got Mail. As for 
love locks, our favorites are kissing and hand holding (no further details here). 

Federico Moccia
Who's to blame for the love locks fad ?
Federico Moccia, an Italian writer, screenwriter, and film director has been credited to his 2006 novel, Ho Voglia di Te (I Want You) in which two young lovers secure a padlock to a street lamp on the Ponte Milvio bridge, then toss the key in the Tiber River, citing a legend that couples who do so will never break up. The 58-year old author, publicly took credit for putting the first lock on that historic bridge in northern Rome, Italy. 

Of course, couples flocked to follow his example (sort of like sheep) and placed padlocks on lamp posts and railings on the Ponte Milvio, throwing lock keys into the Tiber. Less than 10 years later, the lamp post partially collapsed due to the weight of the locks on  much of the bridge. City officials cut off the locks after fines didn't deter additions, but more have been added in the years since.

Which goes to show that too much togetherness can cause collapses, perhaps for many of those relationships too. Okay, back to the padlocks which, after time, don’t do well in the elements. Rusted metal spreads which can then lead to rusted bridges which jeopardizes their stability. Many popular love lock sites have been on more vulnerable historic bridges. Then, there's all the waterways that collect those rusting metal keys that are impossible to salvage. 

Locks removed from Pont des Arts (Internet)
Paris, the city of love, made headlines in June 2014, when a railing on 
the Pont des Arts buckled under the weight of several thousand locks. The bridge was temporarily closed and the city started removing locks. As in Rome, locks have been added since the removals. 

The Paris incident made this trend front page news in cities that earlier had considered it harmless romanticism. Love locks have proliferated and many municipal authorities regard them as litter or vandalism, and there's always a cost to the removal. Other cities turned the trend into a fundraiser or tourist attraction. 

And, it's here in New England as well. This was what we recently saw in a Portsmouth, NH, park along a stretch of river fencing. It was the first installation we had ever seen.
Love Locks in Prescott Park, Portsmouth, NH
There were dozens of padlocks on these chain link fences. Many, but not all, bore the names and/or initials (or both) of couples, either engaged or married and many had significant dates included as well. 
Prescott Park is a 10-acre waterfront park along the Piscataqua River in the heart of downtown Portsmouth. This was a run-down industrial area until Josie and Sarah Prescott purchased the land in 1940 and donated it to the city as a free public waterfront park. 
On a chilly and overcast day, too early for blooms and fountains, looking at and reading the lock engravings made this fence a point of interest. The fencing has not yet been completely obscured by the padlocks. 
The Portsmouth Love Wall was created by local artist Dylan Haigh, owner of a downtown design firm who said that the location was chosen as it is in the parking area, off the main concourse and does not interfere with the park's gardens and fountains. While there's been some local opposers, Haigh claims that supporters outnumber them. 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Reading about and seeing these so-called examples of love, I couldn't help but wonder what poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning would have made of these declarations of undying love

Ms. Browning expressed the concept of love very simply and eloquently in her renowned Sonnet 43 from Sonnets from the Portuguese, a collection of 44 love sonnets. (This poem is in the public domain.)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

As for ourselves, we are not installing a padlock on a bridge or fence to prove our love. In nearly a quarter of a century together, it's very probable that's been longer than many couples who have placed a love lock. Instead, we're going on a(nother) New England getaway.
We're Best Friends Forever (from our Boyds Bears collection)
How about you — Are anniversary celebrations (any type) something you do as well?