September 29, 2019
Last week at the Old Fogeys’ Lunch, a friend asked me, “Have you seen any more bears?”
“No,” I replied, “not since that enormous one in the backyard and the younger one strolling up the road. But, speaking of wildlife, the other morning in the wee hours I heard coyotes howling and barking on the other side of the beaver pond.”
“Coyotes!” she said.
Awakened by the noise, I had sat bolt upright in bed and listened. It’s not a rare sound, but one I don’t hear often. Chills down the spine. To me it’s still a Wild West sound, from childhood Western movies. And, listening, I remembered the coyote song that Pete Seeger sang:
What have they done?
Little brother, where—
Where do you run?
Then a few days later I saw on TV the news showing that terrifying scene of the little girl being chased and nearly attacked by a coyote in her yard.
According to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, the first sighting of a coyote in New Hampshire was in 1944, and then between 1972 and 1988 coyotes spread across the state. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve only had two close encounters: once when a coyote and I nearly bumped into each other when I was walking in the woods out back and the coyote turned and ran while I registered that it was a coyote and nearly had a heart attack; the other when I was walking along our road, saw a flock of wild turkeys ahead, stopped to watch them, and then saw a coyote approaching across a field, disappearing behind a house, stalking. I hastened home.
Earlier this month a Sandwich resident wrote on the Sandwich Board asking, “Wolves around here?” and saying that he might’ve seen one on School House Road: “It looked to have at least twice the heft of a coyote and was much darker in color.” Another resident replied, “No wolves here. It was a coyote. Coyotes will have their tails down while wolves’ are out straight when running.” I’d read that supposedly there are no wolves at all in New Hampshire, but I checked the Fish & Game site and learned that “Wolves were extirpated from New Hampshire in the early 1800s. Currently, the closest population of eastern wolves exists in Quebec.” So I’m reassured that I won’t wake up like Laura Ingalls Wilder listening to wolves howling. Maybe.
I’m happiest with the smaller wildlife, a chipmunk grooming on the doorstep, ducks flapping and splashing in the beaver pond.
SHAKESPEARE AND GEORGE
September 22, 2019
It’s been more than a year now that I’ve been going to monthly Alzheimer’s support group meetings with a friend whose husband has Alzheimer’s. I’m the only one there whose spouse had or has the Lewy Body form of dementia, so my experience is somewhat different, but still I feel a part of this larger experience.
The help at the meetings always impresses me. There’s emotional help—and very practical help, such as suggestions about how to coax a reluctant spouse into a shower. If the time is nearing to make the decision about a nursing home, there’s knowledge from the group’s leaders and members about ratings and reputations. I always leave both drained and comforted. And after the meetings, my friend and I stop for ice cream on the way home.
In the little book of daily meditations I’ve mentioned, Healing after Loss, a recent Shakespeare quote was from Hamlet’s soliloquy:
O! that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew;
Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ’gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world.
In that day’s text following the quote, the book’s author, Martha Hickman, writes about ways to handle grief-stricken depression and says, “One friend suggested that at such times it was helpful to her to repeat the phrase ‘The worst is over.’ It might be worth a try.”
And I realize this every time at the support meetings, listening to what most of the members are still coping with every day, year after year, as their spouses decline. I realize that for me the worst is over.
There’s much laughter at the meetings, therapeutic. And now, time here for a laugh: Last week on Channel 9’s magazine-type program, New Hampshire Chronicle, Fritz Wetherbee’s nightly segment was about, to my astonishment, George Carlin! Fritz started off by saying of George, “I loved the guy.” Don and I did too. And then Fritz told us viewers that he’d been delighted to learn that George had gone to a summer camp in New Hampshire. New York City boys, Fritz said, were brought to Camp Notre Dame on Spofford Lake, and George was one of them from 1944 through 1949 (he was born in 1937). Fascinated by radio, George developed a standup act imitating voices, etc., winning the camp’s talent contest every year. His success, Fritz said, was his first “positive reinforcement.”
Don would’ve got such a kick out of this. To think that George Carlin’s career started at a summer camp on a New Hampshire lake! Don himself went to Camp Belknap on Lake Winnipesaukee from age six through eight, and his favorite activity was crafts—a prediction of his woodworking talent.
CASTLES AND COUNTRY HOUSES
September 15, 2019
When Penny and I made a trip to England years ago, to the Cotswolds, our main goal was visiting gardens. But we also visited the grand dwellings that went with them, including Blenheim Palace and Warwick Castle. I had fun transferring our impressions to Bev in The Husband Bench when she writes Snowy from a café in Warwick:
“[Roger and I] . . . are having our tea here after touring the castle. We had lunch at the castle, a cottage pie of minced beef and mashed potatoes, which we split, thank God. I belatedly realized that I should have waited to eat any morsel until after we’d visited the dungeon, which made me want to vomit as we descended those dark narrow stairs into that terrible cave with the oubliette and torture devices. Men’s horrible ingenuity.
“Of course for me the best part of the castle was the rooms with waxworks portraying ‘A Royal Weekend Party, 1898,’ the glamorous guests in their gorgeous clothes, the waxwork maid filling a tub with real water.”
Penny and I got reminiscing about our sightseeing during her recent visit, when she brought an elegant coffee-table book she’d found at a book sale: The English Country House: A Tapestry of Ages, by “internationally acclaimed photographer” Fred Maroon with “leading British architectural historian” Mark Girouard. Penny said, “It gives the word ‘lavish’ new meaning.”
In it were the glorious photographs of exteriors (gardens!) and interiors, from “Entrances and Halls” through “Great Chambers and Saloons” and “Drawing Rooms” and such, to “Service Rooms”—i.e, the best parts, the kitchen, butler’s pantry, laundry, dairy. In the text were gems of information, such as: “Modernizing houses that were built to last forever can be difficult. Not so many years ago, a house in Leicestershire needed wiring. The only means of laying some of the cable was to tie it around the neck of a ferret and lure him through a conduit by dangling a dead rabbit on the other side.”
The photo that gave me the most pause was of Castle Howard’s hall, “rising two stories and topped by a dome . . . Italian plasterers introduced rococo elements not popular in England until years later.” In the middle of this splendid hall are two women who have stopped work to wait patiently while the photograph is being taken. One is wearing a housedress, the other a sleeveless smock and trousers. Each is standing beside her bucket, leaning on her mop. Their gazes at the camera are level, their expressions—what? Tired, slightly sardonic?
Soon afterward, I brought home from the library a new book that was an entertaining contrast to castles and country houses: the second edition of Preserving Old Barns: Preventing the Loss of a Valuable Resource, by John C. Porter and Francis E. Gilman, with photography by Lowell H. Fewster. It “provides a practical understanding of the history, function, and preservation of old [New Hampshire] barns,” and it too has beautiful photographs and fascinating text. The photos include local barns I drive past often; no lengthy travel necessary for this sightseeing!
NEW HAMPSHIRE APPLE DAY
September 8, 2019
In Lazy Beds, I’ve mentioned having pie for breakfast, a New England tradition (and elsewhere?). I realized that when I think of this, I always think of apple pie, no other kind. My mother and grandmother made many an apple pie, and if there were leftovers—breakfast! When I grew up, I did the same. I remember always making two apple pies instead of one, to be sure of leftovers.
Remembering, I couldn’t recall that my mother and grandmother never made anything called apple crisp. Apple Brown Betty came close, and that was the only other apple dish created in our kitchens except baked apples, a lot of applesauce, and applesauce cake, which also gets mentioned in Lazy Beds. I didn’t have apple crisp until later, probably college, and I didn’t really pay attention until a neighbor here in Sandwich served it; yummy, and I asked for her recipe and thus finally made it.
And here Sandwich, in our yard we have an ancient apple tree that’s still producing a few green apples that the deer enjoy.
Last Thursday was New Hampshire Apple Day.
It is the time of year for apple thoughts. There’s an apple article in the September issue of Smithsonian magazine, “The Life of Pie: How did a humble dessert become a recipe for democracy?” Gabriella M. Petrick writes that “The pie tradition of the New England colonies had come from old England with the settlers, who transformed the savory kidney and mincemeat pies of the British Isles into sweet pies filled with fruits that grew well along the Atlantic coast.” Apple pie became patriotic in World War I, with soldiers homesick for it. After the war, in 1924, “the phrase ‘as American as apple pie’” was coined in an “advertisement in the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Times for men’s suits that bucked English fashion trends”!
There are apples on the cover of the September/October issue of Yankee magazine and apple articles (and recipes) within. “Fall Inclusive,” by Ian Aldrich, is about a weeklong trip he and the photographer, Mark Fleming, took in New England to experience the foliage season. Their adventures included a pumpkin-pie-eating contest, and they had an apple experience too, when in Waterbury, Vermont, they visited Cold Hollow Cider Mill, “an apple-lover’s Shangri-La. There’s a bakery turning out fresh pies and crisps” and also “cider doughnuts . . . impossible to resist.”
Cider doughnuts! I saw in my diary that a year ago my sister and I stopped at Moulton’s Farm Market in Meredith where, in addition to vegetables and other good things, you can buy cider doughnuts. We sat outside and looked at the view of the Ossipee Mountain Range and ate our cider doughnuts, talking about how our family considered Northern Spy the best pie apple and thinking apple thoughts.
MAINE WOODS AND MATCHMAKING
September 1, 2019
Recently I’ve been in the Maine woods—in my mind. I’ve been reading Almost Midnight, the latest sequel in Paul Doiron’s series about Mike Bowditch, an investigator with the Maine Warden Service. His settings are the “other” Maine, inland, the woods not the seacoast.
In this book, an old friend of Mike’s who is in prison asks for Mike’s help, and this leads us into a tale of prison corruption. There is also a tale about Shadow, a wolf-hybrid whom Mike rescued from drug dealers in a previous sequel. Shadow has now been shot by a crossbow arrow and, at the veterinarian’s, may be dying. Mike reflects, “Here he lay, the big bad wolf. Since the dawn of humanity, his kind had been the embodiment of our every nameless fear. Rather than confront our own psychic failings, we had used our terror to wage a campaign of extermination against these rival predators.” Mike is determined to find out who shot Shadow.
Both tales take us into the woods. And I remembered first hiking in Maine—on paper, when I typed up drafts of my father’s memoir, Our Last Backpack, about a week-long hike in the Mahoosuc mountain range. A few years later, with my hiking group, I climbed two of the mountains in the Mahoosucs, Mount Success and Goose Eye Mountain. The Mahoosuc Trail starts in New Hampshire and ends in Maine; Goose Eye is in Maine. As my father wrote in the backpack section of 50 Hikes in the White Mountains, “Legend gives this mountain the early name of ‘Goose High,’ because the summit was an obstacle to migrating geese. The geese had to clear by a few wingbeats a rocky 3,870-foot mass.”
For contrast, I’ve also been in a city in my mind, listening to the audiobook of The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London by Penrose Halson. In 1939, Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver, both twenty-four years old, took a wild chance and opened a marriage bureau in a little office on Bond Street. In 1986, Penrose Halson became the owner of the Katharine Allen Marriage and Advice Bureau, with which Heather and Mary’s agency merged in 1992. Thus the author acquired loads of material about their agency’s history—magazine articles, letters, photographs, ledgers, and more.
And we learn, as the audiobook’s back cover says, that “From shop girls to debutantes, widowers to war veterans, clients came in search of security, social acceptance, or simply love. And thanks to the meticulous organization and astute intuition of the bureau’s matchmakers, most found what they were looking for.”
Throughout the book the War permeates the story, with people still seeking futures during bombings and destruction, into the postwar years of deprivation.
For my next audiobook-listening, I’m remaining in England with an old favorite, Agatha Christie’s ABC Murders!
August 25, 2019
Last week I went to two reunions.
The first was a Golden Circle luncheon. A couple of years ago I wrote here about the Golden Circle Society, a Keene State College group for alumni who graduated fifty or more years ago. The society holds luncheons throughout the year in restaurants around the state—and one in Vermont. Don and I used to go to the luncheon held in August at Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant in Meredith.
We practically grew up with Hart’s, when it first was simply a turkey farm and we could see the flock as we drove past (well, our parents were doing the driving) and then when it became a restaurant in 1954. Come 1957, my summer job was assisting the Laconia radio station’s copywriter; amongst other ads, I wrote the Hart’s ads and writing them always seemed to occur in the late morning so at my desk I’d be studying the Hart’s menu and composing the commercial while my stomach growled with lunchtime hunger.
Needless to say, the restaurant’s specialty is turkey. The Golden Circle luncheon is a turkey buffet. So even though there are August temperatures outdoors and we should only desire salads and ice cream, we Golden Circle alumni tuck into a Thanksgiving feast.
I didn’t go last year. This year I returned to sympathy and hugs and also to the entertaining subjects being discussed around the tables, such as the winter’s skiing, grandchildren’s progress, and reminiscences abut Alaskan tours, particularly one that included an historic house of ill repute.
SAWYER'S DAIRY BAR
August 18, 2019
Don died a year ago last Tuesday. Penny, my sister, was here during the week, and on Wednesday we went to Gilford to have lunch at Sawyer’s Dairy Bar with a dear friend. I’ve written before about working at Sawyer’s when it was simply a dairy bar, not a restaurant as well; here’s an excerpt from a piece I wrote for “Ruth’s Neighborhood” in August 2013:
In The Cheerleader, Snowy is asked, “How was your summer?” and she replies, “Ice-creamy.”
That’s the way I remember the summer of 1955, when my best friend, Sally, and I worked at Sawyer’s Dairy Bar, across pastures from the Sawyer farmhouse in Gilford. It was the summer between our sophomore and junior years in high school. We were sixteen, and this was our first job, besides babysitting.
Sally lived near Sawyer’s, on Lake Winnipesaukee. I lived farther away in Laconia, about a twenty-minute drive, and although I had got my driver’s license, my family owned only one car (typical in those days) and thus my mother or father had to drive me to work and pick me up after. So I stayed over at Sally’s even more than usual that summer, and we would walk to work together down the narrow road past cottages and Gilford Beach, in our white nylon uniforms, white nylon aprons, white socks and sneakers.
In the evenings after closing time, when we walked home to Sally’s our white uniforms would be smeared with ice cream, hot fudge, hot butterscotch. Across the road from Sally’s house was a path that was a right-of-way to the lake. On occasion we stopped and went swimming there, stripping to our underwear or skinny-dipping or walking straight into the water in our disgusting uniforms.
Don too spent the summer of 1955 involved with dairy products. He worked for Horne’s Dairy in Winnisquam, near Laconia. For him, the summer of 1955 was his summer between high school and college. Horne’s had a dairy bar, very small, but Don didn’t work there; he drove a pickup truck stacked with cases of jangling milk bottles to deliver to customers on a summer-cottages route around Lake Winnisquam. Also cream, buttermilk, and cottage cheese.
On Saturday nights he’d pick me up after work, laugh at my bedraggled state, and drive me the short distance to Sally’s, where we’d sit in his car in the driveway and discuss the dairy business. And get up to other things, of course. I do remember that we actually did discuss the newfangled homogenized milk as opposed to milk with the cream on top you had to shake in or pour off into a creamer.
Much as I loved staying at Sally’s, the commuting problem made me start thinking of working nearer home the next summer. Sally decided she would like a change, and thus we got jobs waitressing at a Main Street restaurant in Laconia, Keller’s, which later became the inspiration for Sweetland in The Cheerleader.
OLD HOME WEEK, 2019
August 11, 2019
Sandwich’s Old Home Week last week was its 121st. As I wrote in 2015, it “started out as Old Home Day, and the idea behind such days across the Granite State was to awaken an awareness of roots, to bring back the natives who’d moved away, entice them to return for at least a day.
"In my historical novel, The Flowers of the Forest, I used a version of the idea when the heroine, Anne, a farmwife, takes in Matthew, a summer boarder whose family once had a farm in their New Hampshire town. During research, I’d read advertisements urging city folk to spend summers in the clean country air, with fresh farm food.”
This year, Old Home Week’s events included the Community Church Ladies’ Aid Annual Fair, the Artisans on the Green Art and Craft Fair, open house at the restored one-room schoolhouse and at the transportation museum, a fishing derby, soccer games, tennis, horseshoes, water sports, a cookout, a picnic—and a one-act operetta, Elderville, and Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.
Our favorite event has always been the library’s annual book sale. This year it was held outdoors on the library lawn instead of in a building at the fairground, and I browsed in the summer sunshine, doing some Christmas shopping. The books I couldn’t resist getting for myself are: a mystery I hadn’t read before, which I chose because of the title and the cozy British village scene on the cover, Death Comes to the Village by Catherine Lloyd; a mystery I have read, Dorothy Gilman’s Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, which I chose because I mention the Mrs. Pollifax series in Lazy Beds and I thought I should check my memory; and a little paperback copy of The Great Gatsby, which I chose because even though I already have three copies, who can have too many copies of this novel just in case of—what?!
Sandwich isn’t our “old” home but New Hampshire’s Lakes Region is, and we were very glad we returned to the Lakes Region and made Sandwich our new home in 1976.
August 4, 2019
August already! Here are some of last week’s summer scenes around here.
One day I saw at the town’s tennis courts six children lined up at a net facing the instructor across it, four of them just a little taller than the net, two of them barely able to see over. They seemed attentive, with enthusiastic or tentative racquet-swinging. And I was riveted with delight.
At Wednesday’s senior lunch (aka the Old Fogeys’ Lunch), a portable air-conditioner had been brought into the meeting room, so we ate our roast pork feast in comparative cool.
Speaking of foods (and when am I not?)—oh, the scenes of local vegetables, fruits, and berries at farm stands at this time of year! I came home from my weekly errands with New Hampshire tomatoes, lettuce, peaches, and wild blueberries.
The backyard’s scenery distracts me from my porch reading as I look up to watch a chipmunk slaking his thirst in the little birdbath and a hummingbird sipping in the hanging basket of purple-and-white petunias.
It has occurred to me that porch sitting can be a form of “forest bathing.” In my latest reading I was amused to see that term used in a most unlikely place, a new library book about Jane Austen, The Jane Austen Diet: Austen’s Secrets to Food, Health, and Incandescent Happiness by Bryan Kozlowski. A very entertaining book. Instead of starting in the first chapter, I turned to Chapter Five because of its title, “Walk Like an Elizabeth [Bennet]: Exercise in Austenworld.” I remembered how, when I was reading Pride and Prejudice at Bennington, our teacher remarked that the main thing that always struck him was all the walking the characters did! As Bryan Kozlowski says, “The Bennet girls in Pride and Prejudice walk six to eight miles every week, just by going back and forth from their home (at Longbourn) to the nearby village of Meryton: ‘The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a most convenient distance for the young ladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a week.’”
He also points out that their posture was exercise and tells us that “When the cast of Sense and Sensibility (1995) began preproduction training for their onscreen roles, one of their first lessons was learning the correct art of Regency posture.”
I next turned to Chapter Six, “A Taste for Nature,” which begins with a quote from Mansfield Park: “I advise you to go out: the air will do you good.” Especially in the morning. He writes, “If you haven’t already noticed, [Austenworld] is overrun with morning people . . . who pop out of bed and instantly start praising the ‘lovely,’ ‘cheerful,’ ‘charming morning’—who rush into other people’s bedrooms, throw open the shutters, and scream, ‘Make haste!’”
And this love of fresh air and nature is still considered beneficial today, when “Japan’s ‘forest bathing’ movement is now one of the country’s most powerful pillars of preventative healthcare.”
But Jane wouldn’t approve of my doing my “bathing” just sitting on the porch. Well, I’ll at least try to remember to sit up straight.
July 28, 2019
As I was browsing in the library’s magazine racks last week, I saw that the cover of the April Down East magazine said that this was “The Maine Food Issue.” How had I missed reading this issue? I took it right home.
Great fun, and I most enjoyed the article titled “The 35 Maine-iest Foods.” Some of the foods, it said, “are made, fished, or foraged here. Some are all but unique to here. Others are simply the eats (and drinks) that give erstwhile Mainers a taste of home. From lowbrow munchies to local delicacies, they’re the foods that define us.”
To my surprise, two of the thirty-five foods I had never even heard of, much less tasted. One was “cretons”: “Spiced with cinnamon and cloves, the Quebecois pork paste often pairs with ployes in the Acadian country of the St. John Valley, but folks from Lewiston to Lincoln are known to spread their memere’s recipe on crackers and toast.” I do happen to be acquainted with ployes; they’re a French Canadian type of buckwheat pancake and Don and I have made them.
The other unfamiliar food was “Needhams.” When I asked my niece, who grew up in Maine, if she knew about cretons she said “Oh, yes,” and then when I asked, “Needhams?” she said, “Potatoes!” Mashed potatoes in a Mounds-type candy! The magazine says, “These yummy dark-chocolate squares combine shredded coconut and spuds. Creamy, sweet, and all but unheard of outside Maine.”
The other Maine-iest foods in the list brought back fond memories. Moxie, of course. And the rest, such as Grape-Nuts ice cream, fried seafood baskets, Indian Pudding, fiddleheads, Whoopie Pies, and wild blueberry pie.
“Brown bread” was always served at my family’s table with baked beans. The beans sometimes were canned, not homemade, but this dense bread always came in a can, and we heated it up in the can, in a saucepan in a couple of inches of boiling water so it steamed. My sister recalls, “To open it, we cut off both ends and used one to push the bread out. That was fun.”
“Red snappers” are bright red hot dogs that snap when you bite. Don and I didn’t encounter them until later in life, when they were being grilled at a fund-raising hot-dog stand at sheepdog trials held in East Conway, NH, which is close to the Maine border.
And lobster rolls! As the magazine says, the classic Maine lobster roll is “served in a split-top bun,” the lobster meat is “chilled, dressed lightly with mayo,” and the lobster roll is “then devoured outdoors.”
With a lobster roll at a picnic table, you’ll be, as Puddles would say, “as happy as a clam at high tide.”
OUT OF REACH
July 21, 2019
Our Sandwich library recently got Cathy Guisewite’s 50 Things That Aren’t My Fault: Essays from the Grown-up Years. She’s the Cathy of the Cathy comic strip and thus, as you’d expect, the book is very funny. It is also a memoir that’s poignant as well as funny; in her family she is caught between generations, with a daughter who wants change and parents who do not.
Many of the fifty things she discusses involve the appalling surprises that happen to an aging body, such as feet that grow several sizes overnight—and of course the horrors of trying on bathing suits in the glare of a store’s dressing room.
For me, the most challenging thing that Isn’t My Fault is: shrinking! When Snowy says that she’s “shrinking like Alice in Wonderland,” I know whereof she speaks. The main problem is realizing that items I used to be able to reach are now out of reach. I find myself jumping up and jumping up like the chipmunks I’ve seen on the lawn trying to reach overhanging wild raspberries.
Not raspberries but artichokes emphasized this for me last week. I’ve always kept a can of artichoke hearts in the larder. But at our nearby small supermarket they were on the top shelf of the canned-goods section at the back of the store, and gradually over the years they’ve seemed to get higher and higher so I had to ask Don to lift one down. Now, without Don, they became unattainable unless I asked an employee or a customer in the vicinity to help—and sometimes nobody was there.
Then last week, to my astonished joy I saw that rearranging had been done in this section and the artichokes were on a lower shelf! I bought three cans, in case they rose higher again.
And I remembered how in my childhood, in the pre-self-service days, I was fascinated at the neighborhood store, Walter’s Market, by the tongs-clamp gadget with which Walter would reach up to the top shelves. What an ingenious implement!
Years ago Don built a Shaker-style stepstool with a long handle for carrying the stool from room to room or hanging it up. In lieu of Walter’s implement, I’m thinking of taking the stepstool with me when I go shopping.
P.S. Many thanks for your Moxie comments last week. I forgot to mention that when I wrote about Moxie I was wearing a present from my sister, a Moxie T-shirt, bright orange to match the Moxie label.
THIS AND THAT, AGAIN
July 14, 2019
Here are some of the things that have intrigued or amused or charmed me this spring and summer:
On our Sandwich Board last week, there was a message from the Selectmen’s Office telling us that one of our Sandwich residents “just called and has a lost pony at his house. Please call him at [phone number] if it’s yours.” I have been surprised by many creatures in my yard over the years, such as bears, moose, a dog taking a detour as its owner walks past, a hawk swooping over the bird feeder, but no pony, at least not yet. When I looked at the Sandwich Board later in the day, I saw that a few minutes after the Selectman’s Office had sent that message, they had sent another one with a happy ending: “The pony’s owner has been located. Thank you.”
I saw this New Hampshire license plate in a neighboring town: IMLOCAL. It’s particularly appropriate in summer when license plates from “away” seem to outnumber us. Re vanity plates: Friends from Pennsylvania once told Don and me that in all their travels they’d never seen so many vanity plates as in New Hampshire. We replied, “Well, we have these long winters in which to think them up.”
On New Hampshire Chronicle this spring there was a segment about the Dump Run Café in Gilmanton (near Laconia). This “café” is at the community church, where folks gather on Wednesday mornings after their trip to the dump. There’s coffee and doughnuts and a performance by the Dump Run Gang playing oldies, country music, etc., on various instruments. Such a terrific name and idea!
In June, Maine TV news had a piece about the Axe Women Loggers of Maine’s axe-throwing contest at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum to celebrate Father’s Day (if I understood the reporting correctly). This has many implications to ponder.
And on Maine TV last week there was coverage of the annual Moxie Festival, “a quirky little festival that appeals to people who like things that are different.” Ah, Don and I had always wanted to drive to Lisbon, Maine, to see this! Everything Moxie from a parade to a Moxie-chugging contest! Instead, the celebration reminded us to put “Moxie” on our grocery list. Some people hate the taste of Moxie; for some it’s an acquired taste; but we had loved it from our first childhood sip.
I’ve now put Moxie on my grocery list.
July 7, 2019
I spent the Fourth of July with Penny (my sister) and Thane (my niece) at the cabin they’d rented in a cabin colony on a nearby lake. The bliss of a morning lake reminded Penny and me of waking up to the lake at what our family called “the Lot.” I wrote about "The Lot" in “Ruth’s Neighborhood” in 2011, and here’s an excerpt:
Back in the golden age of magazines, a great many short stories were published. And back then Cosmopolitan magazine was in its pre-Helen-Gurley-Brown heyday, its pages filled with fiction—stories, serials, and each month a “novelette.” My father’s story “The Mink” was bought by Cosmopolitan as a novelette and retitled “The Crystal Years.” (Dan, my father, later expanded it into a full-length novel and kept the Cosmopolitan title.) The novelette was published in the April 1948 issue. I was nine then; Penny would turn seven in July.
The sale was very exciting. Besides success, it meant money. And with this money our parents bought a “lot” in a chunk of lakefront woods that had recently been divided up for a development. We were the first customers. So we felt as if the whole woods and lake were ours.
On hot summer weekdays we sometimes made the trip after Dan finished his day’s work at a Laconia factory, to have a swim and the picnic supper Ernie (our mother) had packed—deviled-ham sandwiches, olive-butter sandwiches. But usually we went on weekends and camped out.
Dan pitched a big tent that he had designed and Ernie had sewn. In it we spent the nights. Penny and I can still smell the inside of that tent, the pine boughs Dan cut for us to sleep on, the wool smell of our itchy blankets, the tent’s canvas smell mingled with the faint reek of whatever stuff Dan had used to waterproof it. Penny became the subject of a family tale about how she was so little that one night in her sleep she rolled out under the edge of the tent, where Dan discovered her the next morning, still sound asleep.
Dan was the cook on these weekends, using his Coleman stove, and Penny and I remember the breakfast smell of bacon.
A big project was his building a wharf. It became a sort of porch to the tent in the woods, so in addition to swimming from it we sat there, and when friends and relatives visited, it was the gathering spot.
Our boat-building uncle built the family a rowboat, from which Penny and I caught many a sunfish. Because sunfish were considered not worth eating, back into the lake they went. Dan caught the fish we dined on.
It wasn’t simply summer days. We went to the Lot in the spring as soon as the snow melted enough and as late into the fall as snow allowed. Penny remembers once snowshoeing in with Dan.
Inevitably, somebody from Massachusetts bought the lot beside us and began building a snazzy cottage. Our idyll was spoiled. So eventually Dan and Ernie sold the Lot.
That development now is packed with cottages and resembles nothing I remember from childhood. But needless to say, though say it I will, the real place exists in memories.
OCTOBER -- DECEMBER 2019
Pumpkin Spice (October 6)
Houseplants, New and Old (October 13)
Pumpkin Regatta (October 20)
An Over-the-Hill Celebration (October 27)
Joy of Cooking (November 3)
The First Snow (November 10)
Louisa and P.G. (November 17)
In the Dentist's Waiting Room, Again. (Nov. 24)
Portsmouth Thanksgiving. (December 1)
Phyliss McGinley and Mrs. York (December 8)
Marion's Christmas Snowball, Again (Dec. 15)
Christmas in the Village (Dec. 22)
Christmas Weather (Dec. 29 )
JULY -- SEPTEMBER 2019
The Lot (July 7)
This and That, Again (July 14)
Out of Reach (July 21)
Maine Foods (July 28)
Summer Scenes (August 4)
Old Home Week (August 11)
Sawyer's Dairy Bar (August 18)
Reunions (August 25)
Maine Woods and Matchmaking (Sept 1)
New Hampshire Apple Day (Sept 8)
Castles and Country Houses (Sept 15)
Shakespeare and George (Sept 22)
Wildlife (Sept 29)
APRIL - JUNE, 2019
National Poetry Month, 2019 (April 7)
National Library Week, 2019 (April 14)
Dorothy Parker Poem (April 21)
Spring Is Here! (April 28)
Department Stores (May 5)
Archie (May 12)
It's Radio! (May 19)
The Big Bear (May 26)
A Boyhood in the Weirs (June 2)
Pinkham Notch (June 9)
Latest Listening and Reading (June 16)
Setting Up Housekeeping (June 23)
Pizza, Past and Present (June 30)
Squirrels (January 6)
Mills & Factories (January 13)
Kingfisher (January 19)
A Rockland Restaurant (January 27)
Home Ec (February 3)
Ice Fishing Remembered (February 10)
Our First Date (February 17)
Sandwiches Past and Present (February 23)
Snowy Owls & Chicadees (March 3)
Car Inspection (March 10)
Latest Reading & Listening (March 17)
Frost Heaves, Again (March 24)
Signs of Spring, 2019 (March 31)
March, 2018 (first entry)
Earlier: See Ruth's Neighborhood
The Old Country Store (March 25)
The Galloping Gourmet (April 1)
The Poor Man's Fertilizer (April 7)
Miniskirts and Bell-Bottoms (041518)
Henrietta Snow, Second Printing;;
Food & Drink Poems (April 22)
Recipe Box and Notebook (April 29)
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