Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Sea, Sand, Sculptures

Master Sand Sculptures on Hampton Beach, NH
When you think of sand sculpting, perhaps you recall summers at the beach building castles with buckets of water and sand. Perhaps, 
that’s how the folks who created these amazing master sand sculptors got their start — in childhood?

There’s over 20 sand castle competitions around the world where top notch sand sculptors create works of such size and complexity, it's hard to believe they're made from sand and water. Some of these competitions have been running for decades while others are relatively new.
Lucky for us, the 2021 Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculptures, now the largest Masters competition in the Northeast US, took place in NH last week. We went after both the sculptures and judging had been completed. Seeing these sand sculptures was a first time experience for us, but definitely won't be the last. To say they were awesome would be putting it mildly. 
Sand Sculpture Centerpiece, Hampton Beach, NH
This year’s theme was Sand, Sun and Fun in 2021 and the centerpiece, which was not part of the judged sculptures, featured sand castles, humpback whales, a lifeguard on an ATV, and featured the names of Hampton Beach businessThe now annual event features 10 of the best sand sculptors in the world and attracts thousands of spectators to this popular NH beach town.
Closeup view of  ATV Rider Sand Sculptures
The competition is funded by the Hampton Beach Village District and Sponsors, in cooperation with The Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce and the NH Division of Parks. When asked about this year’s theme, its organizer, local sand artist and NH native Greg Grady, declared anything but COVID.
Back in 2000, Grady was commissioned to create a larger than life replica of the NH quarter on the beach using 10 tons of sand. Its popularity led to creation of the Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition the next year. Since then, the event has attracted thousands of visitors each summer. In 2020, it was postponed until late August.
Once Bitten
Each year, 200 tons of sand is hauled to the beach from a NH quarry to be used for creating the sculptures. Each competitor gets 10 tons of sand, described as some of the best in the world. For three days, sculptors carve eight hours a day and must finish their pieces within 24 working hours. They use sand, water and creativity to create their masterpieces and compete for cash prizes and awards worth up to $15,000. 
Behind Every Successful Man
After completion, the sand sculptures are sprayed with a solution of glue and water to protect them from the elements and allow them to remain standing after the competition and judging ends. This year they remained through June 27.
We left long before the beach was dark enough to see the sculptures illuminated for night viewing. The works only remained a short time even though the glue spray could have left them intact longer. Why didn't they stay longer? S
ecurity would be needed to protect against vandalism which has occurred in previous years. And, they occupy prime space on a very popular beach. NH's slice of Atlantic Ocean waterfront is slight – only 18 miles of shoreline. 
Miss You, My Friend
Judging is based on several elements, such as technical skill, degree of difficulty and a factor best termed as WOW. The award winners this year were:
Empty, 1st Place
Abe Waterman of Prince Edward Island, Canada, won first place and $6,000 for Empty, which he said was created based on a breakup with his wife. The double-sided sculpture, shows a face with matching tears with the crouching figure of a man on one side and a woman on the other.
Rebirth of Phoenix, 2nd Place
The 2020 top winner, Mélineige Beauregard of Montreal, Canada, finished second this year and took home $4,000 for Rebirth of Phoenix. She also nabbed the people’s choice award which came with another $1,000.
Poker Face, 3rd Place
Karen Fralich of Toronto, Canada, finished third with Poker Face, which brought a prize of $3,000. She’s an 18-year veteran  of the competition. Her two-sided sculpture showed a man with his poker face and a losing hand of cards, and a less confident visage on the other side.
Multiple Piercings, 4th Place
Thomas Koet of Satellite Beach, FL, came in fourth and won $2,000 for Multiple Piercings.
Continuum, Sculptor's Choice Award
Chris Guinto of Key West, FL, won the Sculptor's Choice Award for his piece titled Continuum.
These two sculptures were not included in the judging. The one shown left was a memorial to a veteran (50-year) part-time Hampton police officer and high school teacher, who died last spring after battling cancer. The other sculpture was a humorous tribute to Boston's Fenway Park baseball stadium.
While the sand sculptures were the reason for our beach day trip, they were not the only sights we saw on our time there. Anyone who has ever spent time at a shore town has seen some of these items along a boardwalk stroll. 
And, no day at the shore would be complete without stopping for lunch. Our choice was a once a year choice of clam strips. Of course, Grenville would have liked this ice cream to be edible.
The weather was perfect for our day trip and temps were in the low 80s and sunny, much better than the forecast for this week.
Currently, extreme heat is blanketing many parts of the US and even Canada. The heat wave here will have a brief respite with rain following, but higher temps are forecast to return next week. Hope you're managing to keep cool however possible.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Friday Funnies

After parking my Jeep Liberty at the first parking available at the flea market last weekend, we noticed it was coincidentally in front of an exact duplicate.
Everything was the same on both vehicles from the exterior color and trim to the exterior. It was definitely a case of seeing double. The photo above is of the duplicate vehicle.
My 2007 Jeep Liberty is the one in the foreground. Differences between the two were the spare tire cover on mine and the that the duplicate showed a bit more wear for its age.

While I have seen duplicates or near so, the fact that my SUV is 14 years old makes this a not-so-often happening, especially for an exact match. My Jeep was purchased new from a dealer on the VA eastern shore. No, we didn't confuse the two Jeeps as the other was gone when we returned to ours. Sadly, the duplicate showed its age quite a bit much more than mine. Still, a meet-up with its owner would have been interesting.

Ever happen to you that you parked near/next to an exact duplicate of your vehicle?

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Sunny and warm here; a heat wave forecast next week

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Flea Market Finds (or Not)

Admittedly, we are flea market aficionados and while we're never looking for anything specific we enjoy spending time some weekend mornings at two local ones. You never know what you'll find, like the game above (Ideal 1966), which neither Grenville or myself played or bought.
A recent attempt to visit  a weekend flea market was cancelled due to overnight rains the night before. Fortunately, that led to our exploration of a unique furniture emporium, Deja Vu in Londonderry, NH.
Last weekend was sunny and warm so we stopped at two popular outdoor flea markets in Hollis and Londonderry, NH. The Hollis market (7 miles away) is only open on Sundays; Londonderry (9 miles) is open both weekend mornings. The two markets are about a 30-minute drive apart so we visited them on separate days as we really like to linger and look, even if we don't buy. 
The term flea market is generally considered to originate with the French marché aux puces an outdoor bazaar in Paris, France. It translates to "market of the fleas" and likely referred to flea-infested used merchandise. Not to be confused with swap meets which can involve strictly swapping goods with no money involved, flea markets usually deal exclusively in the exchange of cash for transactions.
Flea market selling is distinguished from street vending in that the market itself, and not any other public attraction, brings in the buyers. There's a variety of vendors — some part-time sellers consider their sales a hobby due to a "regular" job; full-time sellers dedicate full time to their stalls and collection of merchandise and rely solely on profits made selling at the market. 
Different English-speaking countries use various names for flea markets. In Australian English, they are called trash and treasure markets. In the UK, they're known as car boot sales.If the event takes place in a field or car park, vendors will sell goods from the boot (trunk) of their car. If held indoors in a school or church hall, it's usually known as a jumble sale, or bring-and-buy sale. In Quebec, like France, they're often called Marché aux puces (flea markets). In Japan, where the words flea and free are transcribed in the same Japanese phonetic letters, the term  free market has gained wide use.
The Londonderry Flea Market is situated on about 30 acres and hosts a variety of sellers selling goods ranging from antiques to toiletries. Many sellers have permanent locations, others are there on an intermittent basis. 
Regular vendors who sell the entire season usually bring in new or different items to add to their inventory. There are also weekend sellers, many of these are yard sellers who only rent space to sell items no longer needed in their own homes and who prefer not to have home yard sales.
Like all outdoor markets, open hours are weather dependent and the Londonderry market is open Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m, from April to October. Parking is $1.50 and free for seniors, like ourselves.
The Hollis Flea Market in operation since 1964 is considered among the oldest running flea markets in NH. Vendors are spread across over 20 acres with up to 400 vendors on any given Sunday morning. Early bird shoppers have been counted at over a thousand. This flea market is a family run affair and is currently in its second generation of owners.
Since it's a weekly market, there's many regular vendors. Like at Londonderry, there are sellers who would rather tout their wares to an established crowd rather than at a private yard sale. This ensures there's usually a wide variety of items from antiques to new or nearly so. 
As at Londonderry, there is parking fee which is slightly higher at $2 with no discounts. There's also a food concession with outdoor seating available. This market is just down the road from a state recreation area, typically a police officer is directing pedestrian crossings as there's two areas to the market. 
While we don't always hardly buy at these markets, the low cost/free admission is worth the time spent looking and sometimes seeing things that bring back a memory or two. Yes, sometimes Grenville or myself will make a purchase as you never know when you'll find that great deal.
How about you — do you enjoy these types of sales?

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Dad's Day 2021

Patrick (aka Grenville) and his father & my brother Anthony (Tony) with my father
Today, is Father's Day in the U.S. where it is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. 
While neither of our dads are still with us, Grenville and myself will take time to honor their memory today.
We will also celebrate Grenville, who is dad to these two ladies. 
Meanwhile, their father happily modeled gifts they sent. Remember and/or celebrate your fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers today and every day.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Elvis is Here

My usual Friday Funnies is a photo(s) of something that has struck me as odd or funny because of placement, wording, etc. A recent FF post was expanded to include oddities seen at The Museum of Dumb Guy Stuff. This week's post is similar as we explored a very unusual furniture store, notable more for other things as you will soon see. 

As the post title says, Elvis is here in NH. Well, not exactly all of him, but at least there's a very large representation, and there's no mistaking the image likeness.

This nearly 10-foot high Elvis head resides in the corner of a Londonderry, NH, furniture outlet store. The larger-than-life piece really gives visitors a chance to get up close and personal to the King in a very BIG way. 

As you may have figured out, this furniture outlet is not the usual type. And, if not for a cancellation last weekend, we wouldn't have found and explored it. Sometimes, the unexpected works out well.

Overnight Saturday rains and the threat of more closed the outdoor flea market, our planned Sunday excursion. But, we didn't find out until we'd arrived there and saw the posted sign.

What to do in the area?

We remembered that Tim Stavrou, the new owner of a Nashua hotel liquidation firm near the mill apts told us about his flagship store, Deja Vu. He assured us that it was unlike any other furniture liquidation store, and as luck would have it, like the flea market, it was in Londonderry and open Sundays.

And he was right about it being unusual (quite).

Our nearly 2-hour visit was a nostalgic, retro, pop culture adventure. There's something to see down every aisle of this place and it was the most fun we've had without spending any money. Of course, everything here has a price for the right person and there's some very unique items. 
The term déjà vu derives from the French and means already seen. Whenever it occurs, it stirs up something that’s been seen before, a place, person, experience or thing.
First piece we saw at the entry
The story of Deja Vu Furniture (no accent marks) the store and its owners, Tim and Martha Stavrou of Keene, NH, has been featured on the Roadside America site and a local show, Chronicle New Hampshire. The business has been open 15 years. A family member came up with the name suggesting that everything there had been seen before, certainly not by us.

There's furnishings and so much more. Some of the decor considered novelty to the utmost degree. At times, it felt like we had found our way into the prop department of a film studio. Where else could you find full-size super heroes like Superman, Batman, Spiderman and then horror characters like Dracula and Frankenstein?
There wasn't a space in the store where something didn't catch our attention as we tried to explore so many nooks and crannies crammed into this
 34,000 square foot warehouse. There's also flat screen TVs, mini refrigerators, barstools, lamps of every variety, and furniture from Art Deco to modernSome pieces were available in more than one color matching any decor.
What to do with used wine bottles
Just look at some of what we found during our first (definitely not last) visit. Life size replicas of characters for popular foods or eateries, 
a life-sized version of the rock group KISS, the Blue Brothers (with new member Grenville) plus statues in various sizes and shapes. 
Grenville with life-size Blues Brothers figures
If you're looking for an unusual horse statue, this is the place to go. The selection included wooden rockers, several carousal horses to a disco horse. 
Looking for a new sign? There's plenty to choose from and vintage amusement park games too. 
There's nothing like having your own personal guard. Here, you can select from several.
Knick-knacks, paintings, movie props, sports memorabilia, antiques, lighting fixtures, are just a few of the countless items found in this offbeat emporium. How about a disco ball light?
Sports icons and mascots are here too
Guitar playing Santa, Louis Armstrong and Jack Daniel
Business is mainly word of mouth although there's a website, blog and social media like Facebook.  Its owner, Tim Stavrou, started in the hotel makeover business and he and staff would assemble and/or disassemble hotel rooms. He bought hotel-grade furniture and furnishings, acquiring a warehouse full of stuff, before opening a place to liquidate it all. Some are clearly recognizable from where they came like chairs, couches, ironing boards, microwaves, mirrors, vanities, desks, fixtures, all items found in a hotel. Some are time-warp pieces and stylized designs capture their era. 
Pizza anyone?
There was no ship to go with the masthead figure 
As far as why all the oddball items, Stavrou said that furniture didn't make him happy, these things did. He said his reputation for buying crazy items has sellers seeking him out now.
Fish for sale, some great catches
There wasn't a whole car here, just assorted parts of two
Fill 'er up at Esso Gas
Walking around Deja Vu Furniture, it's just as important to look up as to look around. Things like toy cars, planes even statues hang from the ceiling. Signs are posted to watch your head.
Signs are posted to watch your head. It's not a suggestion, but mandatory.
Vehicles and planes are hung throughout the store
Archangel Michael was hanging around
Not that we were buying anything on our visit, but we did inquire as to what was the most expensive item in the store. We were directed to this statue at the front desk.
We were told that this statue was one of four from the estate of financier JP Morgan. It's made entirely of marble and the price tag is quite hefty, but we were told that a discount would be possible, if you're at all interested. What a great entry piece it would make.

The floor inventory changes often as most items are one-of-a-kind. This display of life-sized clowns was not my favorite. Hopefully, these will find a new home by our next visit. 
Scary monsters were preferable to these demonic-looking clowns
We learned that a warehouse storage space located above the store doesn't have public access with old and new hotel furniture stacked almost to the rafters. 

Maybe our next visit will result in a great find for our apt home, just not this trip.
Grenville considered his & her throne for our LR
This coming weekend we may venture out to the flea market as the weather forecast is predicted to be dry and hot. We'll definitely return to Deja Vu Furniture another time since looking around was fun and free — two of our favorites, maybe yours as well.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Baseball game, fireworks and flea market for us