Monday, November 29, 2021

And So It Begins

Non-turkey dinner
Now, that Thanksgiving is a memory, the countdown and rush to Christmas Day has begun. It arrives in less than 30 days. We hope that everyone who celebrated the turkey holiday had good times spent with family and friends and delicious food as well.

Our holiday was spent with family. Our holiday meal was a non-traditional one without turkey or fixings. Instead, we enjoyed chicken and ribs, rice, salad. Dessert was also non-traditional featuring grandpa's apple pie and brownies baked by granddaughter.

The holiday was also an early birthday celebration for grandson who be 15 years old this weekend. Since, we won't see his family again until before Christmas, we brought his gifts on this trip.

It was the day after Thanksgiving 2006, when we headed to the airport to fly to the West coast for his arrival. We were there through the holiday season. 
Grandson will be 15 years old this weekend
Here in NH, Thanksgiving eve was movie night as watching the Grinch films is one of Grenville's long-standing traditions. (Did you know that there are three movies based on the 1957 book by Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss) How the Grinch Stole Christmas! ). We watched the two shown below, both in our collection.
Two of Grenville's favorite holiday viewings
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  is a 1966 American animated television special, directed and co-produced by Chuck Jones based on the 1957 children's book of the same name. It tells the story of the Grinch, who tries to ruin Christmas for the folks in Whoville below his mountain retreat on Mount Crumpet. Originally telecast in the U.S. in December 1966, it has become a perennial holiday special featuring the voice of the late Boris Karloff as the Grinch and narrator.

The 2000 film, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a Christmas comedy-drama co-produced and directed by Ron Howard and released in November 2000. It was the first Dr. Seuss book made into a full-length feature film. The film is narrated by Anthony Hopkins and stars Jim Carrey as the Grinch. Critics mentioned its dark theme and scary scenes, but the film was #1 in the U.S. for four weeks and was the sixth-highest grossing film of 2000. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup. 

Over the holiday weekend, we watched our two favorite modern Christmas themed romantic comedy films, Love Actually and The Holiday. Both are in our holiday DVD collection.
We enjoy these two romantic-comedies every holiday season
Love Actually was released in the U.S. in November 2003, a week ahead of its UK release. Directed by Richard Curtis, it features an ensemble cast of British actors with most of the film done in London locations. It explores various aspects of love as shown through 10 separate stories involving diverse characters, many are shown to be connected as the tales progress. The story begins five weeks before Christmas and plays out weekly until the holiday. A month-later epilogue takes place in a busy airport, just as in the film's start. Love Actually received mixed reviews, but was a box-office success. Usually played during Christmas, the film proved more popular with audiences than critics, and is now a modern holiday staple.

The Holiday (2006) was written, produced and directed by Nancy Meyers and filmed in California and England. It stars Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz as Iris and Amanda, two lovelorn women from opposite sides of the Atlantic, who exchange homes to escape heartbreak during the holidays. The film's leading men were played by Jude Law (Graham) and Jack Black (Miles). The film also stars the late Eli Wallach. The Holiday premiered in NYC in November 2006, before being theatrically released in the UK and the U.S. in December 2006. Despite mixed reviews, the film became the 12th highest-grossing film of the 2000s to be produced by a female director. Ironically, we saw this film in a CA theater when we were there for grandson Bobby's birth and it's become a seasonal favorite ever since.
Our first time meet-up with fellow blogger Linda and Bob
Over the weekend, we had a first-time meet-up with fellow blogger Linda and her husband, Bob. They live in PA and were in NH visiting family for the holiday and staying in Nashua. We met at a local restaurant and had a great time. This is the second time in as many months that we have met a fellow blogger. In September, we met fellow blogger Kathy and her husband, Joe when we all in PA for different events. We neglected to take photos of that meet-up; hopefully, next time.
This weekend it was also time to take down the fall decorations from our apt entry. We were planning to start with the interior as well. However, a scheduled rug cleaning appointment put it on hold until this coming weekend.
The exterior of our apartment is holiday ready
Cards shown on the apartment door and wall are card fronts saved from ones received in 2020. It's my custom to recycle them as decorations the following year. Some of these even date back a couple of years earlier as I liked the design, sentiment or both.
Holiday decorations in downtown Nashua on Main St
A couple of downtown Nashua holiday storefronts 
Meanwhile, the city of Nashua and some storefronts are also displaying holiday decorations. The top three images in this collage are of banners along downtown Main St. The holiday wreath is one of several on a side street. The nutcrackers and trees are from store displays.

Today is Cyber Monday first coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation to encourage online shopping. It's considered to be the online shopping equivalent of Black Friday, which dates back to about the 1950s and historically has been one of the busiest yearly shopping days. The only shopping we did on Black Friday was for groceries; today is laundry day.

How about you — did you shop on Friday and/or will you today?

In answer to comments on the Friday Funnies about replacement washers/dryers. Those shown were only a few of all the replaced units. The mill building has 5 floors, each has a laundry room with a min. of 3 washers/3 dryers (a couple have more). The machines are well used with over 900 residents. There were replaced due to frequent breakdowns.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Friday Funnies

An improvement on clothes washing clothes on rocks in the river . . .
But where do the cords plug in?

These appliances were removed from laundry rooms in the mill apt complex where we reside and replaced with new washers and dryers. Management opted to outsource the laundry rooms to a New England company vs. being responsible for maintenance of the machines. The newer ones offer more washing and drying options, unfortunately the cost is a bit higher. 

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
A rainy Friday is forecast in Nashua, NH

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is a day when many here in the U.S. will gather with family and friends to enjoy a holiday meal and to say their blessings. It's also a day we're thankful for those we love and for all that's good in each of our lives. We will be celebrating this holiday with family in RI.
Without further ado, this simple message is to say thanks to you, my fellow bloggers for your continued online friendships. You are all very special people and much appreciated.

Enjoy Your Holiday Celebration
Dorothy & Patrick (aka Beatrice & Grenville)

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Thoughts & Prayers

There's no easy way to say a final goodbye to someone, whether family or friend. 
Sometimes we have to say goodbye without ever having said hello in person.

Sadly, I share with all of you that a fellow blogger, Mildred, passed away earlier today. Although, we never met, she was my friend, and saying goodbye is just as hard. While some see things differently, I don't need to have met someone to consider him/her as a friend. Strangers are just never-met friends.

Some of you may also have known Mildred through her blogging. She had several over the years, her most recent blog was called Laurel Wood (which she removed when her illness progressed). Although Mildred was no longer blogging, we exchanged emails, short on her part and longer on mine (it seems I'm never at a loss for words). She told me of being very tired and spending most of the time in bed. Last week, another blogger friend emailed an update that Mildred was in a Hospice House. Today, she informed me of Mildred's passing. She leaves behind her husband, John, several family members, and her beloved pets. At Mildred's request, there will be no memorial services.

It's been said that a door closes another one opens. Through a shared friendship with Mildred, I've met another blogger friend. A new friend never replaces, but adds to our collective friendships. 

As mentioned before, bloggers are a caring community. I know that Rita would appreciate your support and well wishes if you should pay her a blog visit.

You will be missed, Mildred, my friend. 

For anyone who would like to send a card or message of condolence to Mildred's husband, John, and/or to her niece Brooke, often mentioned on her blog, please contact me at my blog email. I have their home addresses, but would not post here. It may be of comfort to her family to hear from blog friends. I'm sure they would share with other family members as well.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Friday Funnies

Anyone want to venture a guess on how many pies this pumpkin would make for Thanksgiving Day dessert?
A 3 lb. pumpkin would yield enough puree for a recipe calling for a can of pumpkin (usually 15 ounces) which means this one could potentially make over 675 pies, more or less. Of course, imagine how much effort would be involved. Our pumpkin pie will be made using a can of Libby pumpkin puree.

This 1st Place winner at the Deerfield Fair in early October weighed in at 2,034 lbs. Coincidentally, it was grown in a NH town with the same name as my NJ hometown.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Rainy weather in Nashua, NH, on Sunday

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Up, Up and Away

Time does have a way of slipping so quick. While looking at photos taken the past few months, I found ones taken in September and October and never posted. This is a recap in a single post. 

If you've ever seen a multitude of hot air balloons n one location, it's really quite an amazing sight, especially when they start to ascend all around you.
Some of the balloons at the Lancaster event
These were among the nearly 40 colorful balloons we saw in mid-Sept at the Lancaster Balloon festival held in the village of Bird-in-Hand, PA. The three-day festival featured the mass launch of dozens of beautiful balloons, family entertainment, fire works, food, and Amish-made goods. This event was held in the heart of Lancaster Amish country. 
Some creative hot air balloon edits
Friends who we knew from NJ had recently relocated to this area and told us about this event. It also gave us a chance to visit with the youngest granddaughter and her parents who went with us. While we watched the mass ascensions on Saturday night, we didn't purchase a 30-60 minute ride at a cost of $350 per person. It's something to consider another time. (If anyone reading this post has ascended, please share your experience in the comments.)

Since the early 1960s, people from across the country and around the world have come to visit a very unique Strasburg, PA attraction, the Choo Choo Barn - Traintown U.S.A.®. This unique 1,700 square foot train layout features over 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles plus 22 operating trains.

The history of this attraction dates to the end of WW II when returning veteran George Groff bought an electric train set for his 2-year old son. Over time he expanded the layout housed in the basement of their home. When the family, which included three children, moved to another home in the early 1950s, the layout moved too. It expanded and a new display was readied for the holiday season that residents and school children visited annually.
By the time, his eldest son was ready for college and funds were needed, Groff decided to make his hobby a business. The nearby Strasburg Railroad was already attracting tourists to the area, so he bought a small barn and moved the train layout. On Thanksgiving Day 1961, the Choo Choo Barn opened with six trains and animated displays. Admission fee was 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. Current rates are $8.50 for adults, $5 children 3 to 11 years, and $6 for veterans and active military. Grof's second son, Tom, who learned the business from age 11, took it over in 1979 and with the help of his wife has continually expanded the layout. 
It's easy to spend upwards of an hour walking around the layout, which changes from day to night time when the rom darkens and stars come out. Thousands of miniatures populate the layout with over 150 animations. Figures include firemen, skiers, circus performers, construction workers, a wedding party, Amish raising a barn. Many of the scenes depict Lancaster, PA attractions like Dutch Wonderland and the Strasburg Railroad. The layout has numerous switches, relays and timers to operate the display and scenes include actions like firefighters racing to extinguish a house a fire, skiers going up a slope, workers hammering to build a home.

A visit here has become a family tradition for many people including ourselves. The display continues to updated and restored. There's always something new to see even on repeat visits.

In early October, we were in Deerfield, NH, for our first time visit to the popular Deerfield Fair.  Like so many other events, this annual event was cancelled last year due to the pandemic. That made this year's fair very heavily attended over its four-day run. Crowd estimates were placed at over 100,000. Even local school are cancelled in Deerfield the Friday of the fair.

The fair began as an agricultural showcase and that's still the heart of the event. The barns are just about full with a lot of farm families with their animals. While agriculture is the theme, there were commercial wares for sale as well.

Deerfield was once a thriving farm community which was bypassed by the railroads. To attract visitors, the town established the Deerfield Fair in 1876. Since then, it's been called New England's Oldest Family Fair.
Two of many cows at the Deerfield Fair
This event always features many displays of farm animals, produce and crafts, amusement park rides and foods ranging from standard fare foods like fried dough to sausage sandwiches (which were very good). It's held on the huge Deerfield Fairgrounds which has permanent buildings for the farm animals. 
Antique tractors and machinery, hay baling at the Deerfield Fair
During our one-day visit we watched events that included horse and dairy shows, farm horse competition, cattle and horse pulls, woodsman’s contest, pig scramble, steer show, hay baling, antique tools, and many antique farm tractors.
Deerfield Fair horse pull
The fair dates to a time when farmers used horses and oxen to clear their fields and horse pulling remains a popular fair events that's always well attended. Draft horses were used as work animals and farmers would challenge one another to see what horse/team was stronger. Today, the sport is serious competition among some of the strongest horses. The starting pull load for a team of two horses is 1500 pounds.

The sport of horse pulling has evolved with rules and regulations and collars and harness made specifically for the sport. Competitions follow a strict set of rules designed to ensure the safety of the animals and fairness among competing teams with different weight classes. Draft horses are built for strength and endurance. Those seen at competitions may not be working the fields, but instead follow an intense workout schedule. Animal cruelty is strictly forbidden. 
This year, the performance headliners were The Flying Wallendas, an internationally known high wire and circus troupe. This was the first time we had seen these professionals perform feats definitely not to performed at home even not on a high wire. 

We've had more adventures since these outings, including a visit to PA museum where we had lots of time (a teaser).

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Fall Walk in the Park

A couple of weeks ago, daytime temperatures were perfect for a late fall walk in the park. It wasn't our usual walk in the very large Mine Falls Park, but in another city park.
Greeley Park is the largest inner city park in Nashua, NH extending 125 acres from the Merrimack River, across Concord Street to Manchester Street. The property was originally bought in 1801 by Joseph Greeley, who passed it on to his son after his death. The land was deeded to the city of Nashua in 1896 by Joseph Thornton Greeley, the grandson of the original Joseph Greeley. Upon his death in June 1881, it was announced that well-to-do farmer Joseph Thornton Greeley, grandson of the original Joseph Greeley,  had bequeathed his Concord Street farm to the city for future recreational space.
The growing city decided to utilize the land as a large park, which would provide relief and open space to the dense workforce housing near the river and enhance property values of mansions along Concord Avenue. 
A couple of years later, a parks commission was appointed and provided with funding. The city gave the commission $500 to start the process of turning the farm into a park. This was a huge undertaking for the funds allocated. Trees needed to be cut down, farm buildings had to be razed and a site work had to be completed. The parks commission became overwhelmed by the scope of the project and little was done. 
Progress stalled until 1908 when wealthy businessman and industrialist John Cotton, a city resident, donated $5,000 to build a fountain and pavilion with public bathrooms from stone found on the estate grounds. The donation was matched by city funds and progress was made to change the Greeley Farm into a public park with a gravel walk and flower beds and picnic tables in later years.
Back at the turn of the century, five thousand dollars went a long way towards making the park a reality. Back then, a local newspaper editorial chided city officials for the long delay while praising Cotton for jump-starting the project. 
Greeley Park hosts many citywide events, most are free to attend. These include the Fairy Tale Festival, Halloween Fright Night and an annual art show. Plays and music festivals are held at a bandstand in spring and summer months. The park includes hiking trails, horseshoe pits, ball fields, tennis courts, and a community garden area.
We were lucky enough to visit on a day when the daytime temperatures were in the mid-50s and not all of the trees had lost their leaves. The park is heavily populated during warmer months, but the day we walked there were only a few other visitors.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Nashua Veterans Day 2021

Many people like a parade and what better 
one to see than a parade honoring those who served in the United States Armed Forces on a beautiful autumn day. Even the weather cooperated for this event in Nashua, NH earlier today.
Last year, this annual parade and many other city events were cancelled  due to the pandemic, which made this one even more significant. Scores of residents and local business people gathered downtown along Main St to pay honor to those who served.
Veterans Day is a U.S. federal holiday. The annual commemoration occurs in the U.S. on November 11 in honor of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 that signaled the end of World War I.
The holiday originated as Armistice Day on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the war's end. In 1926, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance, and the date became a national holiday starting in 1938. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name to Veterans Day.
Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably either during war or peacetime.
While the parade was over in under a half hour, just the fact that it was able to be held after a year of many cancelled events made it a wonderful and worthwhile event to attend today. 
Internet source: Military Appreciation Coin
I am very proud of my husband, Patrick (Grenville) who served in the U.S. Navy and thankful to others who served as well. Unlike Memorial Day, this day is not a solemn occasion and many veterans would say they aren’t heroes. Sadly many are not recognized, so if you can not only today, but any day, say Thanks for your service whenever possible. Whenever, folks say that to Grenville, he is always happy to hear the words; others will be too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Where the Ponies Are

These are corralled in a farm field on a country road in Lincoln, MA, where you might expect to see live horses roaming. Instead, the horses in this field
 were never alive except in the childish imaginations of their former owners and visitors. 

is the name of this whimsical New England collection that started sometime in 2010 and is both nostalgic and melancholic. While there's a lot of theories on its origin, no one knows the exact answer. The herd has increased annually and the
 corral field has become a New England roadside novelty that's been written about many times. Children's horses are in many different styles and materials from classic brown rocking horses on a spring bases to colorful ones in ivory, black, pink and blue. Some include the names of a former owner or family, some include a message. There's even some few non-ponies.

We saddled up drove here a couple of months ago after visiting the American Heritage Museum in nearby Hudson, MA. This was after, I had listened to a podcast about this novelty attraction and, since we were in the area, we went looking for it. The day we stopped, there were a couple of families with young children who were riding the ponies.

The word henge describes a prehistoric monument made up of a circle of stone or wooden uprights. The term first appeared in the mid-18th century and comes from the word Stonehenge, derived from Middle English words for stone and a version of the word hinge

How it was applied to this roadside collection is a mystery as the only thing both have in common is that their origin is unknown. This collection of ponies has also been called the Rocking Horse Graveyard, and unlike the British one, it often changes both in number and formation. Yet, the how and why remains unknown to all, locals and visitors alike.
Owners of the farmland (James Pingeon and his wife Elizabeth Graver) live next door and have said in various accounts that the collection began when a headless horseman prop was left there after Halloween. Another story is that, years ago, children started a lemonade stand, then abandoned it leaving behind a couple of toy horses. Yet another tale claims that a left over a Christmas display horse was then put out to pasture there. 
It's also uncertain where the subsequent herd additions have come from as Ponyhenge is a collaboration of many unknown donors. According to some accounts, there's been as many as 50 in the field. We counted over three dozen plastic and wooden models with rusted springs and peeling paint, many saddled up with wood or plastic handles just awaiting young riders.

According to some accounts, the herd is sometimes rearranged into a new formation. No one seems to know how or by whom. Reportedly. at Kentucky Derby time, the horses have been moved into lines awaiting a starting shot. They've also adorned with lights at holiday time. 
Despite its popularity, there's no vandalism apparent, only the ravages of time and the elements. Rather than take away, people increase the collection. The horses are cared for by no one and everyone. It seems that visitors come to remember a bit of childhood memory or to share it with their children. 
The collection was close to the road, easy to spot and arranged in a circular pattern on our visit. While on privately owned land, it's open to all visitors all the time; these ponies are not fenced in. Children can and do ride them; some cry when parents signal it's time to leave (we witnessed this firsthand). The land owners maintain the grounds and keep the grassy area cut. Rocks placed near the road keep motorists from driving directly onto the field. There's no specified parking area, but enough space to pull over on the rural roadway. 
Some folks might consider this site creepy, others unusual. It's someplace where there’s nothing to do except look, remember and, if you're young enough, to ride some not-so-wild horses.