Saturday, March 17, 2018

We're Green Today

Isn't everyone on St. Patrick's Day? ☘️ Grenville is especially happy as everyone will be celebrating his given name today. 
The city of Nashua, NH doesn't host a parade, although in past years we've attended ones in NJ and CT. We'll celebrate later today with a corned beef sandwich and libation at a local Nashua eatery. Do you have any special plans for the day?
In our home, everyone celebrates ☘️ including the frog and penguin outside the door. 

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.☘️

Thursday, March 15, 2018

It Ain't Over . . .

And it's also the same old story in terms of weather since last Friday's post. Like other New England cities and states, Nashua, NH, was slammed with another wintry  nor'easter on Tuesday. It started out s-l-o-w-l-y as shown by the 7 a.m. view outside our apartment window. 
The storm picked up intensity during mid-morning and snow and blowing winds continued throughout the day. The official total accumulation was listed as 15 inches. Needless to say, we remained indoors. That's why these photos look nearly identical to ones taken during last week's storm. These are from 2 different storms within 5 days with views from our apartment and hallway windows and the apartment building's front door.
Plowing continued throughout the storm on city roadways and in the apartment parking lots. It was still snowing at 5 p.m. when these photos were taken.
On Wednesday morning, the day after the storm, the  7 a.m. window view was very different than the one just 24 hours earlier
Most of Nashua's roadways were down to bare pavement within a few hours of daylight. In  New England, it seems that a foot of snow doesn't linger very long. (That's so unlike where we formerly lived on the VA eastern shore. There a 6-inch snowfall would shut down the county for almost 2 days.)
It's good that this city handles winter weather so well as yet another winter storm has been predicted for early next week. 

Spring might be a little late here this year — at least in some cities and states.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Snowed-In (Again)

Like cities in many other states, Nashua, NH was hit with another nor'easter for the second time in less than a week. Last Friday, we were pounded with wind and rain, this time it was snow —some 12-13 inches total overnight on Wednesday into most of Thursday.

The views from our 5th floor apartment were beautiful with the wet snow clinging to trees along the Nashua River. (All of these photos were taken in color, but the results were monochromatic.)
Thankfully, we did not have to go out an shovel off our vehicles or go to work. The benefits of being retired and having underground parking spots.
In a view from another window, the S-curve in this roadway was intriguing. And the photo below shows another curve in the roadway fencing.
If you were among the folks affected by this latest winter storm, we hope that you were safe we well. Many areas lost power, thankfully our building did not.

Remember that clocks get set an hour ahead this weekend for daylight savings time — yes, already and it does seem early to us TOO ! 
Internet graphic

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Friday, March 2, 2018

House-less (in a Good Way)

Yes, we finally are without a house to call our own because . . .
The Frog & PenguiNN, which was what we lovingly named our home on the VA Eastern Shore (that was neither an inn or a B&B) has a new owner as of this past week. We're happy and overjoyed to share the news with everyone! 

As regular readers of this blog know, selling the Frog & PenguINN has been a very long time coming, nearly 6 years. It was a wonderful home, circa 1902, that we updated and enjoyed for the 12 years that we lived there. And, it was located in a great neighborhood with lots of friendly neighbors.

But,when it comes to selling, it came down to that well-worn phrase: location, location, location (somehow it's always repeated 3 times, not sure why). As many times as we showed photos of our house to other, we would get the same question?  "Why hasn't it sold yet?" Then, we reminded them of its location. The small town of Onley, VA (pop. 500) was located near many amenities such as a YMCA, Walmart, and a recently opened brand hospital. But it was definitely not a bustling metropolis. The closest major cities, such as of Virginia Beach, VA or Salisbury, MD entailed a 90 minute drive, north or south.

We thoroughly enjoyed the slower, relaxed lifestyle for the dozen years we lived there. Our original plan after buying the house was to make it a permanent home and we spent the years renovating the house and yard. We also enjoyed sharing those experiences on this blog. We met nice folks, shared fun times, and made good friends who we will miss.

But, 2-1/2 years ago we decided we needed a change and new experiences. We relocated  to Nashua, NH, which was closer to family and grandchildren already living in New England. Not only did this include a 10-hour drive from VA, but an entirely new lifestyle. We went from home dwellers to apartment residents (even though we still owned a house).  Instead of a single-family residence, we live in a former textile mill (Nashua Manufacturing Company) which has 325 apartments with nearly 900 residents. That's nearly twice the number of people  than in the entire VA town we formerly lived in. 

Is it working out for us? 
In a single word, Yes. Sure there are many differences but also lots of positives such as being close enough to walk downtown to the public library, numerous restaurants, shopping, and medical facilities. For us, it's been a positive lifestyle change. 

Folks have asked us if we have any future home-ownership plans. As of now, that answer is No. For now, we're glad to no longer be responsible for a house and consider ourselves house-less as we're certainly not homeless.

The usual Friday Funnies was pre-empted to share this "news."
Enjoy your weekend, Everyone

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Caught in Serial Podcasts

It’s been over 10 months since I discussed podcasts in a post. I'm still listening to them, many have been recommended by others. Unlike some of the podcasts I've posted about earlier, those listed in this post are serial podcasts that ended after the last episode.

CAUTION: If  you choose to listen, be advised that Dirty John and S-Town contain obscenities and strong language that many people will find offensive including myself. However, as those speaking the words were central characters in the stories, I put aside my sensibilities to listen to the podcast in its entirety. You may not feel the same.

S-Town hosted by This American Life producer Brian Reed, is short for S***t Town. It tells a story of John Brooks McLemore who despises his hometown of Woodstock, Alabama. In 2012, Reed started reporting the story when This American Life got an email titled: John B McLemore lives in Shittown AlabamaMcLemore wanted someone to investigate an alleged murder in Woodstock, a place he claimed to despise in subsequent interviews. After a year of email exchanges and months of phone conversations, Reed went to check out the story.

Reed investigate and finds that no murder took place. McLemore, regarded as one of the world’s pre-eminent horologists (horology is the scientific study of time, specifically measuring time and making clocks) was outspoken with very strongly held opinions. Reed records conversations with him and others in Woodstock. In June 2015, while the podcast was in production, McLemore unexpectedly committed suicide by taking potassium cyanide. This happens in the second episode; remaining ones explore McElmore’s life through interviews with those who knew him.

Many of those interviewed considered him a genius who planted an elaborate hedge maze complete with locks and who claimed to know the only correct exit.The podcast reveals that he was also lonely, troubled, obsessed with climate change, pierced and extensively inked (despite avowing that he despised tattoos).

The seven chapters of the S-Town podcast were released on March 28, 2017 and within 4 days, it was downloaded a record-breaking 10 million times.

The true crime podcast Dirty John starts with the reading of an autopsy report describing stab wounds from a homicide in the summer of 2016 with no details given on the victim or assailant. 

The podcast then backtracks two years to 2014 and centers on the relationship between a successful 59-year old Newport Beach, CA interior designer and businesswoman, Debra Newell, and handsome 55-year old John Meehan, who she meets on an online dating site. He tells her he’s an anesthesiologist, who owns multiple houses and spent time in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders. Meehan’s rugged good looks capture Newell who is (too) soon charmed by the attention and compliments he gives her.

Newell's yearning for romantic companionship is her downfall. The podcast reveals she’s been married and divorced multiple times and is looking for love. After a 2-month courtship, the couple secretly marries in Las Vegas. This is no happy romance. Newell’s family begins to suspect there’s more to Meehan’s background than she know and it's all very bad. Family members try to intervene with often disastrous results.

The podcast is narrated by Los Angeles Times journalist Christopher Goffard, who spent seven months reporting the story for a print feature, then another three months writing and recording the podcast. Told in chronological order, the podcast leads to a dramatic end in the seventh and final episode. 

The Heavens Gate podcast is presented by Glynn Washington host of the popular Snap Judgment podcast. This 10-episode series shares the story behind the cult whose 39 members took their own lives in March 1997. Washington talks to family members and former group members. The same question surfaces over and over: Why?

Heaven's Gate was an American UFO religious cult based in San Diego, CA. It was founded in 1974 and led by Marshall Applewhite (1931–1997) and Bonnie Nettles (1927–1985) until their deaths. Those who participated in the mass suicide hoped to reach what they believed was an extraterrestrial spacecraft following the Comet Hale–Bopp.

The group started in the spring of 1975 in Los Angeles, CA. Nettles learned to make astrological charts and participated in séances to make contact with the dead. She met Applegarth in 1972 and the pair believed they had a spiritual connection. Within a year, she divorced and left her family to travel with Applegarth. They believed they were figures mentioned in the Book of Revelation who were on a divine mission and that spaceships would carry away their spirits. 

Applegarth and Nettles went by the nicknames Bo and Peep, Do and Ti, or just "the Two," and convinced followers to abstain from sex, alcohol and tobacco and to leave their families behind, which they did. The podcast explains that many who joined Heaven’s Gate included "ordinary" people consumed by a desire for spiritual enlightenment.

Whether or not you decide to listen to any of these podcasts is your choice. All deal with strong subject matter and perhaps more disturbing is that ALL are based on true stories. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

24-Hour Weather

There's a quote attributed to American humorist and writer Mark Twain (1835–1910)
If you don't like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.

That was true in Nashua, NH, but it took at least a day. After a 4-5 inch weekend snowfall, warmer temps and rain followed Monday afternoon. 

This early Tuesday a.m. view showed the snow-clearing weather results. And there's NO snow forecast the rest of this week — maybe spring will be a bit earlier than expected?

Meanwhile,  6+ year-old granddaughter Ellie helped plow snow in RI and 1 year-old granddaughter Lilliana played in the weekend snow in Pennsylvania.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Snow & President's Day

Words in this post title have nothing in common, except that one happened here overnight this weekend and today is a U.S. holiday. 

PresidentsDay is solely an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February and now viewed as the day to celebrate all U.S. presidents, past and present. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it's officially called Washington's Birthday by the federal government. 

Some states have separate days to celebrate the birthdays of Washington (Feb 22), Abraham Lincoln (Feb 12) and others. President's Day was created and moved as part of the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act that created more 3-day weekends for federal U.S. workers — it's a holiday for the U.S. postal system, banks, stock markets, courts, division of motor vehicles and public schools and all are closedIt's not a holiday for most businesses and grocery and retail store employees, but it's become a major U.S. sales weekend.

Snow arrived in Nashua, NH overnight on Saturday and lasted into early Sunday morning. Total accumulation was less than 5 inches of a wet snow. It melted quickly on walkways and roads thanks to above freezing temperatures. It was a pretty early morning view.

These special effects (focal zoom and posterize) were created from a couple of snow scenics (just for fun).

Hope your weekend was a good one. Most of the snow here was off the trees by late afternoon. Daytime temperatures are forecast to reach near 60 degrees by midweek so a lot more snow melt will occur. Enjoy the day off if it's a holiday for you. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday Funnies

A walk downtown last week showed some high-rise dwellers  . . .

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The "Mother" of Valentines

Did you know that . . .
Esther Howland

The "Mother of American Valentines" was a pioneering New England businesswoman who, while she helped many others profess their romantic feelings, was never married. 

Esther Howland (1828–1904) popularized Valentine’s Day greeting cards in America. Valentines had been available in the U.S. for 50 years, but she was the first to commercialize them (cards in this post are "Internet copies" of her creations). But, this was the only online image available of Ms. Howland. She was described as having "an abundance of glossy chestnut hair, vibrant eyes, a high complexion, and exquisite dress." This photograph was taken in 1865 when she was 37. 

After graduating from Mount Holyoke Women's Seminary in 1847 she worked in her father’s business, S.A. Howland & Sons, the largest book and stationery store, in Worcester, MA. A vendor sent her an English valentine which included lace and cut-out flower decorations. It was much more impressive than American cards. Howland was sure that she could make a better card, and knew that the key was fancy paper. She asked her stationer father to import embossed and perforated lacy paper. In 1849, she made 12 sample valentines that her brother added to the inventory on his next sales trip. She hoped to get $200 in orders, and was overwhelmed when he returned with $5,000 in fancy valentine orders.

Determined to meet the demand, Howland recruited a group of all-female friends to work as "assemblers” and set up an assembly line of card makers in a third floor bedroom at her parents’ home (pre-dating Henry Ford’s assembly line by 50 years). She also distributed boxes of supplies with one finished sample as a guide to women who preferred to assemble valentines in their own homes, thus setting up an early cottage industry.

Early cards contained short four-line verses pasted inside similar to earlier English valentines. This set-up would eventually become standard for the valentine market.

In 1870, she incorporated as the New England Valentine Company and continued the home-based business until 1879 when it was moved to a rented building in downtown Worcester MAHowland cards had an ‘H’ on the back in red ink with the price and letters "N.E.V. Co"  to distinguish them from rivals. 

Many of her innovations are still in use, such as the "lift-up" valentine which consists of several paper-lace motifs built upon one another in layers. Howland also introduced the layering of lace, thin-colored paper, 3-dimensional accordion effects, a bouquet in which flowers move to reveal a verse when pulled by a string, and the built-up shadow box that became popular in the latter part of her career.

Anticipating that customers might want to personalize cards they bought, she provided vendors with a 31-page book of different verses that could be inserted in most cards. Customers could choose from 131 verses printed in red, green, blue, and gold ink in three different sizes. The selected verse could be pasted over the original card verse.

Cards were offered for various budgets. A simple card sold for five cents. A card trimmed with ribbons or featuring intricate illustrations was much more, upwards of $50 (equal to the cost of a horse drawn buggy then). Very elaborate cards were highly decorated and had inner envelopes for insertion of a secret love message, lock of hair or even a ring. 

Howland cards were shipped countrywide and the business grossed over $100,000 per year, considerable for the time. She sold the business in 1881 to care for her ailing father.

The popularity of Valentine’s Day cards owes much to Esther Howland who popularized the lace valentine and made it into a major industry. Her creations of fantasy and romance have set a trend for more than 30 years. In 2001, the Greeting Card Association established the Esther Howland Award  given annually to a “greeting card visionary.”

According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion cards are sent annually making Feb. 14 the second largest card-sending holiday of the year after Christmas when an estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent. Over 50 percent of all Valentine's Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the holiday. Woman purchase about 85 percent of all valentines. Teachers receive the most valentines, then children, mothers, wives, sweethearts and pets.

My personal opinion is that a Valentine's Day card 💌 should be held to be most appreciated (an e-valentine doesn't do it for me). That's why Grenville and I will be exchanging several many cards today and a couple of sweet treats and watching our first-date film, French Kiss (1995)How about your plans?

Happy ❤️ Hearts Day to Everyone

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday Funnies

Blades Up . . .

Looks like these were waving blades, but most cars parked in the mill apt outdoor parking lot looked this way.  Wednesday's snowfall was only about 3-4 inches and clear weather is forecast for the weekend here in Nashua, NH. Hope yours is good as well.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.
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