Friday, October 29, 2021

Friday Funnies

The past couple of Friday Funnies posts featured scarecrows in the downtown Nashua, NH area. On a couple of recent weekend road trips, we found some in a couple of NH towns. 

These few displays along in Wilton, NH, were not as numerous as here in Nashua, but they were quite outstanding. See if you don't agree.
Like many other New England towns, Wilton is a traditional, historic small town. Its Main Street is home to artists, small shops, restaurants, the Wilton Public Library and the historic Town Hall and Theater.
Formidophobia is the fear of scarecrows or people dressed as scarecrows.
Scarecrows have been in existence for over 3,000 years and were originally intended to do what their name suggests, to scare off crows and other birds that might ruin a farmer’s crops. In the Middle Ages, Europeans believed scarecrows had special powers.
About 2,500 B.C., Greek farmers carved wooden scarecrows in the image of Priapus, the son of Dionysus and Aphrodite, creating a scarecrow that was supposedly ugly enough to scare the birds away from their vineyards, ensuring a good harvest.
The scarecrows on display in Jaffrey, NH, were far less ominous. Jaffrey, NH, is the only geographical place in the world with that name.These were my two favorites here.
Jaffrey, NH, is home to one of New England's most famous unsolved murders, the death of Dr. William Dean, 63, who was murdered in August 1918. His body was found in a rainwater cistern some 200 yards from the house where he lived in with his wife, Mary. His arms and legs were bound and a rope was tied around his neck. Amateur and professional sleuths have tried to solve the mystery of who killed William Dean, without success. 
Jaffrey, NH, is the only geographical site in the world with that name. It's named after Masonic proprietor George Jaffrey, from Portsmouth, NH, who never visited the wilderness land in which he had invested.
Egyptians used the scarecrows to protect their vast wheat fields along the Nile River from flocks of quail. Their version of the scarecrow was a wooden frame covered with nets. Farmers would hide in the fields and when the quail approached would scare them into the nets. This not only saved their crops from devastation, but caught quail for dinner.
Halloween is this weekend so these are the not-so-final scarecrow postings. There will be a short update after voting results are announced for the 2021 Downtown Nashua Scarecrows.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Hope you all get treats with no tricks

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Fall Foliage Fotos

Foliage has hit its peak in many areas of New England, especially the colder northern parts of the state. The nor'easter that hung around for several days this week certainly didn't help any retain any leaves still remaining.
We did get on the road for a few day trips and an overnight stay in NH. Many of my foliage shots were taken on the road as a front seat navigator and passenger. This was taken somewhere between Nashua and Greenfield, NH.
As many of you know, it can be quite challenging to try and capture a good scene. Luckily there were no oncoming cars when this was taken on the way to Northwood State Park, NH.
The cars in this photo were far enough away to not be too distracting and thankfully there were no obtrusive power lines. The road's S-curve and that bright splash of red really caught my attention as we were traveling from Nashua to Hollis, NH.
Seeing a hood scenic and then finding a place to pull over for a capture sometimes can be equally challenging. This image was taken in Peterborough, NH.
This image was caotured in Jaffrey, NH, and, as seen, many trees were already devoid of any foliage. Still the ones remaining and the water reflects caught my attention. We stopped for downtown to check at a scarecrow display here, some will be seen in tomorrow's post.
Closer to home last weekend, these images were taken in Mine Falls Park, Nashua, NH, last weekend. 

While the colors were not nearly as spectacular as we've seen in recent years in the park, there was still splashes of fall colors. Mine Falls Park is within walking distance of the mill apts.
Are you knowledgeable about wild 'shrooms? The only mushrooms I know to safely consider edible are those available at the supermarket. That said there's a lot of variety in colors and shapes of those growing wild and safer to capture with a photo than a fork.
Thanks for coming along on this short (for me) NH foliage tour. As noted earlier, we've enjoyed  day and overnight trips in recent weeks. They've been fun, but my post backlog is longish now. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Friday Funnies

Here's the last batch of scarecrows in the 2021 Downtown Scarecrow competition in Nashua, NH. Online voting is underway until Halloween, Oct. 31 and seems very slow compared to previous years.This trio of ladies are all decked out from their Main St lightpoles.These two entries represent health and wellness and the one on the left was done by the chiropractic group we regularly visit.While education has been an annual theme in past competitions, there were fewer schools with an entry this year. Traditionally, these types have been big vote getters.This eclectic group includes a crash dummy, pirate and astronaut. 

Of course, this frog is our favorite entry, but alas there was no penguin companion.
To date, here's are top vote getters as of this week. It's no surprise that all are sponsored by organizations with a large number of parent and student voters: Allegro Dance Studio, Rise Dance Studio and Bishop Guertin High School in the middle.

When the competition is over and winners posted, I'll show the top vote getters.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone.
We're out and about for a couple of days

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Tanks for the Memories

If you are a fan of military history, this museum in Hudson, MA, is a must-see place to visit. It's relatively new and opened less than 2 years ago. Nothing seen from this exterior view prepares visitors for what's inside this very large facility. Certainly, we were surprised.

The American Heritage Museum (AHM) is housed in a building space that covers over 65,000 square feet in Hudson, MA. Its address is listed as Main Street, but, you won't see it on that road as it's set very far off the road, a good quarter of a mile in. After seeing the sign and turning, we wondered if we had read it right because we drove up such a long access road. 

Unless you are specifying looking for this museum, like we were, its purpose isn't obvious. Unlike other museums, there's no identifying signage on the outside of the building, which resembles a massive warehouse. Once we entered, it became very clear that this would be quite an experience. And, it did not disappoint. The museum showcases an amazing number of tanks, automobiles, aircraft, and other wartime machinery with interactive exhibits, short films, and helpful docents. As with any museum, there's an admission fee, discounted for veterans, seniors, active military and children (although this is not a museum for the very young.)

The AHM is a branch of the Collings Foundation, headquartered in Stowe, MA, a non-profit educational institution founded in 1979 and dedicated to the preservation, exhibition and interaction of historical artifacts. (Since 1989, a major focus of the Foundation has been the Wings of Freedom Tour of WWII aircraft. In 32 years, the tour has made more than 3,500 visits to airports across the U.S. and stopped in Nashua, NH, again this past July.)

Getting permission to build the museum became contentious in 2015 when the Stowe Planning Board rejected the Foundation's building application. The board was concerned about placing such a large facility on land zoned residentialThe Foundation cited a part of Massachusetts General Law (the Dover Amendment) that exempts agricultural, religious, and educational corporations from some zoning restrictions stating the museum’s purpose was completely educational. An agreement reached in July 2017 allowed construction to start in 2018 and the museum opened in May 2019.

After paying admission, we entered a room with bench seating to view an informative film about the nation’s early history and involvement in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. This introduction included re-enactments and famous scenes showing America's early battles for freedom.
When the film ended, doors opened leading visitors to the WWI Trench Experience. This presentation is presented in a room-size diorama and we stood in a trench that runs the length of the room. Images are projected to recreate Western front trenches at the Battle of Saint Mihiel, the only offensive launched solely by the U. S. Army in WW I. The exhibit's narrator represents nurse Helen Dore Boylston of New Bedford, MA, who nursed the wounded at a front-line field hospital and wrote about her experiences in a 1927 book, Sister: The War Diary of a Nurse.
Show car used by Adolf Hitler for parades
Next, comes the War Clouds exhibit which provides an educational interpretation of the rise of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. Exhibits here show the Nazi rise to power, invasions through Europe and Imperial Japan’s attacks through China and the Pacific. Exhibits include soldier's uniforms and other historical items, including the show car Adolf Hitler used for parades. This exhibit ends in 1941 with a film sequence showing the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Afterwards, we walked through to an enormous, aircraft-hangar sized space with a viewing balcony. It ran along much of the second floor giving an overall view of the entire main floor.

Soon after the U.S. entered WW II, large and small companies changed production to support the war effort. Automobile maker Ford focused production on aircraft, primarily B-24 Liberators, the most mass produced aircraft in American history. The Cadillac division of General Motors made components and engines for tanks and armored vehicles. The company also stopped all civilian car production for the Buick model and switched to making engines for the Liberators and tanks and armored vehicles as well. 
Military artifacts are arranged chronologically and grouped under major campaigns and theaters of war. There are numerous tanks that have been completely refurbished and now look more like showroom models than the weapons of war that they once were. 
More than half of the items displayed are from the WW II era. Also represented are WW I, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq War and others. The majority of display items are American, German, Russian, or British. Many of these restored tanks and vehicles represent the only ones on public display in North America; most include photos of the item in use during a specific conflict.

Where Did All the Artifacts Come From?
Many once were in the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation collection in Portola Valley, CA, founded in 1975 by Jacques Littlefield. It closed in 2018 after his death, and many items went to other museums. Littlefield, a Stanford University graduate and former Hewlett Packard engineer had amassed a $30 million collection of over 240 military vehicles that included 30 tanks, 13 armored personnel carriers, 12 tank destroyers, as well as reconnaissance vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, artillery, and the propeller from the Lusitania (a British ocean liner sunk in May 1915 by a German U-boat)It was considered the world’s largest privately held collection.
Littlefield had the fortune needed for his interest. He was a multi-millionaire whose great-grandfather founded the Utah Construction Co., which helped build the Hoover and Grand Coulee dams. His father was a member of the Forbes 400 Richest People in America. Littlefield acquired and restored the vehicles along with a team of top mechanics. Most were stored in a private museum on his 470-acre CA ranch where he held open houses. Adhering to state and federal laws, none of tanks had functional firing apparatus.
1944 Panther tank after it was pulled from a Polish river bottom

Panther tank after thousands of hours of restoration
The pride of Littlefield's collection was a 1944 German Panzer V Panther tank scuttled after it fell through the ice and sank in a Polish river during WW II. This tank was one of the most feared of its day with frontal armor and a long-barreled gun which destroyed Allied tanks at long ranges. The 49-ton tank was recovered after 50 years on the river bottom. Mechanics worked five years to restore it by rebuilding the hull, fabricating armor, rewiring, and rebuilding the engine. It was completed in 2009, weeks after Littlefield's death from colon cancer at age 59. Today, it's the most completely restored and fully operational Panther and the only one on display anywhere in the U.S. It's also one of the rarest military vehicles in the world.

In keeping with Littlefield’s wishes to preserve the collection, his family donated a large number of tanks, armored vehicles and other military items to the Collings Foundation. Some of these were auctioned off netting over $9 million that funded creation of the AHM to display those remaining plus other military artifacts. The AHM displays over 85 vehicles from the Littlefield collection.

We were able to walk through the large space at our own pace without restrictions or time limits. Volunteer docents, which include veterans, were on hand to answer questions and provide further information. Short films and exhibit displays provided more details.
Military artifacts are not the only items on display. There are several planes as well. 
The museum also address more recent conflicts such as The Cold War displaying a piece of  the Berlin Wall and also The War on Terror with a film showing the attacks and collapse of the World Trade Centers in NYC. A twisted beam from one of the twin towers is part of this exhibit.

The AHM is a hidden gem that’s truly unique even to visitors like ourselves who are not deep into military history. We found it difficult not to be impressed with the armaments of warfare after touring this facility. The presentations were excellent considering the grim subject matter. Most likely we won't make a return visit as there are so many places to visit and time is always limited, but we will highly recommend it to others looking for a very unusual New England museum.

The post title is a tribute to American entertainer Bob Hope who made 57 tours for the United Service organizations (USO) between 1941 and 1991 entertaining active military members worldwide. In 1997, the U.S. Congress passed a bill making Hope an honorary veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. His signature theme song was Thanks for the Memories introduced in a 1938 film, The Big Broadcast of 1938, and sung by Hope and Shirley Ross. It was composed by  composed by Ralph Rainger, lyrics by Leo Robin and won the Academy Award for best Original Song.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Friday Funnies

They're back in Nashua, NH — the 2021 Downtown Scarecrows.

More than two dozen local businesses, nonprofits and schools are participating this year, which seems a bit less than previous years. Here's a sampling of ones on Main Street this week.
Yes, there's more and these are only a handful of colorful and fun scarecrows which will remain in place for the next several weeks leading up to Halloween. On our downtown walk last night, it quickly was becoming too dark to take photos of all.
Unfortunately, there isn't an entry from Clocktower Place, the mill apartment complex where we live. For a couple of years, we were joined by a couple other residents in fashioning an entry. However, due to lack of overall resident interest, building management hasn't participated for the past couple of years. 
There is a $75 entry charge to those participating. The only items provided are a wood frame and a burlap head. Costumes and other decorative items are provided by the participants. Some of the scarecrows are quite imaginative showing a lot of creative effort. 
Online voting ends on Halloween and winners will be announced Nov. 1. The voting page didn't show any actual prizes, so it may just be bragging rights again this year. 
This is not the entire downtown scarecrow collection. More photos will be posted next week.

Blogging has taken a backseat to other things this week. We've been staying close to home, so there's a backlog of adventures to post about. These include visits to a military museum, watch and clock museum, hot air balloons, historic inn, and a very unusual roadside attraction. 

Meanwhile, fall foliage is peaking in northern parts of the state. We're planning a weekend road trip, weather permitting.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Look for scarecrows, pumpkins and autumn colors

Friday, October 8, 2021

Friday Funnies

No, we didn't find a pot of gold, but instead saw some gold in Nashua, NH. 
This early evening view outside our apt window was quite unexpected, after a no rain day
It’s a popular myth that where a rainbow ends there's buried gold. According to one legend, Vikings living in Ireland, looted, plundered, and buried treasure throughout the countryside. When they left, some treasure remained. Leprechauns found it and knew the Vikings had stolen which was wrong, so this made leprechauns mistrust everyone, Viking or not. To make sure no humans could take away what they now considered their gold, it was reburied underground in pots all over Ireland. No reports of anyone finding a pot of gold have resulted.
We didn't see the full arch which was fading fast, but still, it was a brief, beautiful sighting.

Here's a few (there are many more) rainbow info gleaned from online sources:
  • Double rainbows occurs when light gets reflected twice inside water droplets. When this happens, the second one appears above the main one, usually lighter and its colors are reversed (red on the inner section, violet on the outer).
  • Rainbows are seen more at day's end when the sun is at a more favorable angle.
  • Rainbows can appear in the evening and are called a moon bow or lunar rainbow. These are created when light reflected by the moon hits water droplets in the air.
  • Rainbows can appear when there’s no rain; water droplets can be in the air from mist, waterfall overspray, a fountain or when it’s dewy outside and the sun is at the correct angle of no higher than about 42 degrees of altitude.
  • No two people see the exact rainbow and your eyes each see a different one. 
  • Rainbows have more than the seven colors of the visible spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet; red the longest and violet the shortest. There are also up to 1 million invisible colors that human eyes don’t see.
  • Rainbows form full circles. We only see arches since standing on the ground we see light reflected by raindrops above the horizon, not the rainbow’s hidden half. 
A post about rainbows has to end with a couple of rainbow songs. Many folks enjoy Somewhere Over the Rainbow sung by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
Others prefer Kermit the frog singing The Rainbow Connection included in the Muppet Movie (1979).

Whatever, your preference, both are enjoyable songs (frogs have an edge on this blog).

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Go out & enjoy the weather, even without a rainbow

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

What's (Been) Home Cooking

It's been months since my last at home cooking post, back in early May. While, we've taken several road trips in recent months, we've done much home cooking in between. Looking through my photo files, it seems I always forget to take a before shot and then remember after there's little or no dinner left to show.

Despite the variety of restaurants in downtown Nashua within walking distance of our apt, we only dine out once every couple of weeks. It's because we eat out when on our road trips and being home and cooking a meal is enjoyable. As for take-out, I honestly can't recall the last time and, most likely, it was for a pizza delivery. 
Broccoli salad with dried cranberries and almonds
We like salads, but more so variety and this broccoli salad has been a big favorite. We've enjoyed it as a side dish many times with chicken and fish.
Chicken tenders
It was great when paired with these home-made chicken tenders that were baked with a mustard, mayonnaise, and toasted panko coating.
Chicken breasts with spinach
This one-pan dinner consisted of chicken breasts, spinach, mushrooms and shallots, cooked separately but in the same pan. The baby Yukon potatoes were roasted in the toaster oven.
Vegetable frittata
Here's a great way to use up veggies like zucchini, peppers, scallions, spinach by making a frittata. The best part about this dish is that it's like a quiche, but crustless. The leftovers are also good for next day's breakfast.  
Riced cauliflower
Do you recognize what's in the above photo? Yes, it's riced cauliflower as last week I decided to try a cauliflower pizza crust and, of course, home made pizza is the best. Grenville is on a low carb eating plan (we dislike the D word). 

Here's an overview of the process: get a fresh cauliflower, break into florets, pulse in batches in a food processor until fine. (Yes, you will find little white pieces all over at clean-up time.) Steam in a basket or microwave, in the oven or in a pan over the stove  method tried this time). 
Cauliflower pizza crust 
Drain well by using a tea towel. Mix with an egg and seasonings (oregano, basil, salt, garlic powder) and cheeses (Parmesan, Romano, Mozzarella). Transfer to parchment paper, form into a pizza crust circle and pre-bake (400 degrees) without toppings.
Cauliflower pizza 
After 20 minutes, remove from the oven, add your favorite toppings, and cook for another 10 minutes. Above is the finished result. The crust was not as dry as others seemed in online videos. (I didn't squeeze the cauliflower after roasting on the stovetop based on advice in a video, this wasn't the best decision.) Using a tea towel next time to squeeze out more water.

Would I try it again? Yes, as with most recipes I will give it a second try
Does it taste like regular pizza? Not really, cauliflower is bland, more seasonings next time

I've made regular pizza dough and this process was more time consuming from cutting into florets, ricing in batches (then cleaning the food processor), steaming, draining, mixing and pre-baking. You can buy pre-made cauliflower crusts or riced cauliflower which would eliminate some steps. However, a pre-made cauliflower crust in a local supermarket was double the cost of buying a fresh cauliflower on sale, and fresh is always better (usually).
Crockpot roast pork and squash
Now is the time of year when our crockpot comes out of its pantry hiding. The above shows dinner last week —roast pork, butternut squash, carrots, onions and a side of mashed cauliflower. (The photo would have been better if taken when the meal was first plated.)
Ice Box cake
While it's not the prettiest looking dessert, leftovers of this ice box cake never lasted long when it was made in recent months. We invite friends over to help avoid leftovers. 

This no-bake dessert is a childhood throwback. I can recall when my mother made it using stove-cooked pudding and whole milk not instant pudding that used for mine. While good, it definitely wasn't like mom's. Basically, it's a simply layering graham crackers and pudding which is refrigerated before serving with a dollop of whipped cream. There's many variations online. 
Blueberry zucchini bread 
Zucchini bread is delicious, and better with add-ins like blueberries and chocolate chips. These do get a bit messy, if you are like us and cut the bread while it's still warm — but so good.

Sorry, there's no sampling here, unless someone can find an app for that. There's no recipes or links as there's so many recipe variations either in everyone's favorite cookbooks or online.

There isn't an air fryer appliance in our kitchen. Counter space is at a premium in an apartment kitchen and (for now) the crockpot works well. 

How about You — Do you have a favorite kitchen appliance?
If you enjoy home cooking too, do you have any favorite meals ?