Category: Daily Life

Finding our Voice

My mother grew up in Massachusetts, so as a kid New England was just a place to visit family. I hadn’t planned on leaving the mid-Atlantic. I was going to go to Penn State, but a spring time visit to Boston College, put a quick end to that plan. I can’t explain it, I just felt so at home. I moved to New England in the fall of 1986 and I’ve lived here ever since. (I don’t count the one hellacious two and a half month stint back in Pennsylvania immediately after college when I was desperately trying to land a job so I could move back “home”.)

There really is something special about living here. Obviously others have strong feelings for their home regions too. Take for example Tim McGraw’s song Souther Voice. Clearly that man had deep Southern roots.

But what about us New Englanders? Has anyone ever written a song about the people, places and symbols that make this region so amazing?

A quick search of iTunes shows, Please Come to Boston by Dave Loggins, Weekend in New England by Barry Manilow, Whoever’s In New England by Reba McIntyre, and an obscure Steely Dan song call The Boston Rag. Eh, nothing we can call an anthem to New England life.

There is so much to love about New England and there are many of us who are clearly passionate about where we choose to live. Thanks to Karen Kiley, the new permanent co-host of the WOKQ Morning Waking Crew, we now have an anthem we can we can get behind. Based on McGraw’s Souther Voice, it highlight’s some of what makes New England a great place to live. For copyright reasons, they cannot post an audio version, but the lyrics are available.

They play it frequently during the morning show, so tune mornings between 5am and 9am in and maybe you’ll catch a listen for yourself.

What songs remind you of New England?

Windstorm 2010

Um, at the risk of annoying Mother Nature, I feel the need to point out that last week’s Wind/Rain storm was not the weather I requested.

*Sigh*  can you imagine if that rain had been snow ?!? Ok, in light of the 70mph winds, maybe that wouldn’t have been so cool, but oh to have THAT much snow. At the height of the outage, more than half of all New Hampshire homes were without power. This was the second largest weather related power outage in New Hampshire history. Second, only to the Ice Storm of 2008. As much as I love snow, I’m really glad we didn’t have to contend with freezing temeperatures this time around.

Governor Jon Lynch praised all the Electric utilies for their quick work restoring service and their imporved communication this time around. I love that I can now follow PSNH on Twitter or Facebook. My sincere thanks to all the utility crews who worked so hard to get everyone back on line.

I wrote a post about our storm adventure, but truly, it was fairly mild.  We were without power for a little over 36 hours, but we have a generator and that takes a lengthy power outage from unbearable to an inconvenience.

I’ve read reports and see photos of some outrageous damage, how did you fair?

I Can Haz a Snowpocalypse PUHLEEZE

Have you heard?

A 9 foot Frosty and a 4 foot Santa (up to his shoulders in snow)
Chirstmas 2008
It’s going to snow AGAIN!
It’s going to snow A LOT again.
It’s going to snow a lot again, but NOT HERE!!
At least this storm is going to touch the Granite State. The Seacoast is slated to get 1 to 3 inches; Concord, should see a dusting to an inch, but anything North of the Lakes Region?  nothin’, zero, bubkus.
We’ve already established that I like snow.  The people in the Mid-Atlantic states, most of them, eh, they aren’t so keen on piles and piles of the white stuff. This morning I saw a Facebook update from a D.C. resident that mentioned “Snoverkill“. As an aside, I wonder if any entrepreneurial souls with snow plows have headed South to cash in on the White Gold rush? If so, I’d love to talk to you.
I like snow because lets face, it New England, winters are long and well, bleak. A new blanket of the white and sparkly stuff just freshens things up.  It hides the drab browns and grays and instead brings out the crystal blue and sharp white.
My kid in front of a snow mountain at least a foot taller than they are. Winter 2008
Snow Plow Mountain Winter 2008
When there is snow on the ground, we can get outside to slide, tube, ski or snowshoe.  Without snow, we are stuck inside, crawling the walls counting the days until spring. Yes, the ski areas are wise to Mother Nature’s game and have long perfected methods to keep the trails covered with man made snow, but real snow is just so much better. It is like margarine vs. butter.  Margarine will do in a pinch, but butter is soooo much better.
In day to day life, I function as a grown up.  I sometimes complain about the bad timing of a snow storm (or two), but the reality is, I’m a just an overgrown child who relishes in snow days. The year we had almost 120 inches of snow, I was in my glories, but like any authentic child, I grumped when school ran until June 29th.
The grown up understands it is the weather and you can’t change it.  The child goes to bed every night wishing for snow and this year, I am one disappointed kid

Doot Doot Doot Walkin’ Out My Back Door

Snow shoes, me on snow shoes

At the risk of repeating myself.  I LOVE winter.  Generally I love the snow (although there are times when it is frustrating).  I love the cool air, warm sweaters, steaming mugs of tea or hot cocoa, soups, roasts, and I could go on and on.

I also enjoy a host of outdoor activities. I’m a solid intermediate down hill skier and have been on cross country skis once or twice.  This year, Santa brought me snowshoes, so I can add that activity to my repertoire.
We are fortunate that there is undeveloped land with quasi-cleared trails just outside our back door, so I got to try them out last week.  It was a bright sunny winter day and the morning temperatures were making their climb from the high teens to the projected high just above freezing. The air was crisp and clear. In short, a great day to be outside.
I’ve heard it said that snowshoeing is great exercise and I’d have to agree.  I was only out half an hour and definitely broke a sweat yet at the same time, it wasn’t strenuous, in the way that say running or riding a stationary bike would be, It was more like being on an active walk.  It was really fun being able to trek through the snow with relative ease.
Frequently, when walking, I have my iPod for company, this day was no different, but a few minutes in, I was moved to pause the music and just listen.  To those who say the country is quiet, I say BAH!  Aside from the crunch, crunch, crunch, below my feet, there were birds chirping, and the occasional skittering of critters I didn’t stop to identify.  There was a slight breeze, that rustled ever so slightly through the evergreens. It was perhaps the quintessential definition of bucolic.
If you like to move, but don’t seek the thrill of speed, snowshoeing could definitely be for you. Compared to some winter activities like skiing or snowmobiling, the cost of entry for snowshoeing is relatively low.   Some ski resorts and inns offer snow shoe rentals as do some sporting equipment stores including Eastern Mountain Sports (http://www.ems.com). At the store  on Fort Eddy road in Concord, you can rent snow shoes  for $15 per day, $30 for 3 days or $35 for a week. They even have a few small sizes for elementary aged kids.  If you are in the market to buy, it is possible to spend an iceberg of money, but on the other hand, Sam’s Club had decent pairs for $60-$90.
You can snow shoe at many state parks, ski resorts or even golf courses (make sure you ask permission before trespassing on private property). Trails.com lists their best snowshoeing trails. http://www.trails.com/toptrails.aspx?area=13704
Here’s a list from New Hampshire.com of snowshoeing venues. http://www.newhampshire.com/winter/nh-snowshoeing.aspx
If you are looking for a get away that includes snow shoeing, Visit New Hampshire (http://www.visitnh.gov) was kind enough to provide this list too (thanks Tai):
VisitNH New Hampshire has numerous places to stay and enjoy a variety of winter sports – from skiing and snowboarding, to snowshoeing, snowtubing, ice skating and more. Here are some ideas:
So, grab your gloves, pull on a fleece and let’s get moving!
Disclosure, I have no ties to any of the organizations listed in this entry.  Marketing information about vacation packages provided by Visit New Hampshire.  Follow them on Facebook or visit the web site at http://www.visitnh.gov

You Caan’t Get Theyah from Heeyah

Remember when Saturday Night Live used to be funny? In the fall of 1989 there was a skit called “What’s The Best Way”.  It poked fun at the way New Englanders give directions. I remember half the room laughed hysterically and the other half sat there with puzzled looks on their faces. Clearly, they’d never asked for directions from a native New Englander.

Let’s face it, New England roads can be quirky to put it politely, and the way natives give directions can be equally as peculiar. We offer guidance one of two ways, either we assume that everyone has lived here all their lives and knows the history of every building and plot of land. Or, we assume everyone is a tourist and proceed to tell them about every nook and cranny that shouldn’t be missed. You know you have become a native when a) you understand the directions they give and b) you start to do it yourself.

Example #1

I was talking with the mother of a boy from my son’s class the other day and she was trying to clarify where in town I live (names changed to protect the innocent).

Her: “Are you near Suzy Smith? You know Suzy right?”

Me: “Oh, I know Suzy, but I’m not sure where she lives.”

Her: “”She lives in Jane Jones’ old house.”

I gave that “Whaaa?” look and we both laughed.

Example #2

My husband and I heard an advertisement on the radio for Ron’s Toy Shop.   I thought it an odd time and station for this type of ad until my husband pointed out that Ron’s Toy Shop sells and maintains toys for BIG boys.  He then proceeded to tell me where it was.

Him: “I think that’s the place down on Route 3 and 28 in Hooksett.”

Me: “Oh, Ok so North of where the drive-in used to be, and the 99 that that they torn down and rebuilt.”

Him: “Yeah.”

Me: “Like sort of in the area of the Chinese food place that burned down.”

Him: “Right across the street actually.”

Me: “Oh, I thought that company that Lulu’s father used to work for was right across the street?”

Him: “Not any more, they went under and I think Ron’s took over the site.”

Image courtesy of Google Maps
Image courtesy of Google Maps

Two things you need to know:

The Chinese food restaurant burned down in the 80’s, LONG before he and I got together.  I’ve NEVER EVEN SEEN THE PLACE, but I know where the empty lot is. I doubt most people even know there WAS a Chinese food restaurant there.

Secondly, when I was doing some cursory research for this blog entry, I discovered that Ron’s Toy Shop is actually on Elm Street in Manchester. 8.5 miles South of the location we identified.

Thanks goodness we own a GPS!!!

Disclaimer: I’ve never been to Ron’s Toy Shop.  They don’t know me, and I only know them from their ads on the Radio.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays,

From this New Hampshire Life to where ever your life takes you I wish you a happy holiday season and a healthy, prosperous 2010. I look forward to bringing you more of what makes New Hampshire special in the year to come. Thanks for reading, see you in the new year!

Lee Laughlin

Please, Can I Come to Boston . . .

When we moved here, my husband was coming home, returning to family and some of his closest friends. I was leaving home.  I’d moved to Boston in 1986 to attend college and never left. Never dreamed I’d leave.  I loved the city, the hustle and bustle and having just about anything your heart desired (an a few things you didn’t) within reach or maybe a few blocks away.

I had also built a solid social circle of friends whom I relied on for moral support and sanity checks especially once I became a mom for the first time.  When I agreed to move, it was with the understanding that there would be no grief about the long distance phone bills (flat rate plans weren’t prevalent at that time) and that I would be heading South at least once month for regular visits.   At first, I was down several times a month, very slowly, as I developed roots here, there were fewer and fewer trips. Email and Facebook have helped to fill the void and keep me up-to-date.  I still make it all the way back to the Boston area at least once a month to meet one group of friends for dinner and regularly meet another friend at the state line.

This is not to say that I haven’t made friends here.  I have and they are all delightful, wonderful people with whom I am slowly but surely building a history. My friends from Massachusetts have been through hell and high water with me and I with them.  There is something to be said for that kind of history.

I also crave the familiar and even after seven years, more of Massachusetts is familiar to me than New Hampshire.  Those trips back are an opportunity to swear at the drivers on Route 128 or giggle about how Batterymarch Street really does intersect Batterymarch Street. In December it is a chance for me to sneak back and see the house with the over the top holiday decorations in our old neighborhood. There is something strangely comforting about that familiarity.

I have said I love snow and I do, yet sometimes, New England weather can through a monkey wrench in even the best laid plans. This month is a perfect example of such wrenched up plans.  Last Sunday I was scheduled to meet a group of friends in Norwood, Mass. for a girls night out. Wet sloppy snow put the kibosh on that trip.  This weekend, I was going to head back and stay with a friend in Metro West on the way to a Celebration of Life on The Cape for another friend’s Grandfather.  The Blizzard of 2009 has made that trip a no go as well. The truth is I have plenty to keep me busy close to home, but I miss the face time with my friends, especially this time of year.

The irony is that I’m always glad to get home.  I shake my head at the lunatic drives (a.k.a Massholes) and I really don’t miss the traffic and congestion that comes with life in a metropolitan area.

I would not move back. In so many ways, our life here is infinitely better than what we had in Massachusetts, but every once in a while, I just need my fix.  I have at least one more trip planned at the end of the month.  Here’s hoping that Mother Nature and control herself.

Sled Cam!

Ahhhhhh, finally, it is starting to look like December should in New Hampshire. I like, no, I LOVE snow. It blankets the world and with it comes ski season, and sledding and many other fun winter activities. I survive summer, I thrive in Winter.

Yesterday saw the first substantial snow storm of this winter and our first snow day. The kids and I slept late and then bundled up to play out side. We easily have 10 inches in our backyard. The snow was falling hard, but the temperature hovered near freezing, so conditions were just about perfect. You could be outside without freezing to death.

The day “off” yesterday put me behind, so for now, I’ll leave you with “Sled Cam”. Enjoy!

Roasted Squash Soup

This post originally appeared at my blog This New Hampshire Life.  I’ve decided to focus my efforts on this blog and incorporate a taste of New Hampshire here.  I’ll be reposting a few of my favorite posts from TNHL here enjoy. 

Squash was never one of my favorite vegetables as a kid. It was usually boiled to death and splatted on my plate as a runny gooey mess. As an adult, I tried the Common Man’s squash with butter and cinnamon and ohhhh my. Suddenly squash had potential. Later, I visited Canterbury Shaker Village and found Squash bread, a bread that is soft and moist with a slight sweetness too it. Yeah, squash is definitely moving up in my levels of culinary appreciation.

Mmmmmmm Soup
Mmmmmmm Soup

Those two delights involve the sweeter side of squash, but it has a savory side too and that my friends is best experienced in roasted squash soup. Susan Nye, from Around the Table with Susan Nye, created my preferred recipe. You can download the newsletter that includes a funny background on squash and pumpkins as well as the recipe from Susan’s web site

The recipe is easy and the results are hearty and tasty. You place the squash and other veggies in a roasting pan with spices and balsamic vinegar and pop it in the oven. When it is almost done, a little wine is added. The squash is pureed (I used a blender) and simmered with chicken broth. The result is a soup that is flavorful and warming. It melts on my tongue. My favorite part? It freezes beautifully; I freeze it in both large and single servings and serve it as an appetizer or reheat it for lunch or a quick snack. This soup is a yummy way to get your vegetables.

I first met Susan through a now defunct email list. In her own words, she is a “food writer, entrepreneur and cook… a corporate dropout, I left a twenty-year career in international sales and marketing for the fun, flexibility and fear of self-employment.”

She offers private chef and catering services as well as cooking classes. Susan is a prolific writer, she blogs, and writes for numerous publications. She is a regular on WMUR’s Cook’s Corner (see past visits on YouTube). You can find more of her recipes and her wonderful stories on her web site http://www.susannye.com/. If you want regular culinary inspiration or just a new idea for dinner, I highly recommend following her on Twitter too, @SusanNye

Soup, soup for you!!

Powerless No More

Saturday was a blustery November day and according to news sources, at one time more than 50,000 homes in New Hampshire were without power.  We joined those ranks just as I was washing the conditioner out of my hair.  The lights fluttered and faltered and eventually the whole house went dark. It was bound to happen, live in these parts for any period of time and you WILL loose power while you are in the shower.

Losing power used to freak me out.  Although my husband and his family could take it in stride, a mild sense of panic would descend on me and I’d run around looking for candles, matches and flashlights.  After close to 7 years, I can honestly say I’m almost getting used to it.  I think some of the comfort comes from knowing what to expect and understanding what is needed to keep day-to-day life going without “the juice”.

Our Generator in all its glory
Our Generator in all its glory
I really cut my teeth during the floods of 2007. We were without power, phone and Internet for almost 4 days and the timing could not have been worse as I was staring down major work deadlines. We were fortunate to borrow a generator 1 day in, but it only powered the bare essentials, heat, water, the refrigerator and one light over the kitchen sink. Immediately after the storm, we started researching generators with the intent of purchasing our own.   Once you return to normal life, and the chaos fades, it is easy to put a major purchase like that on the back burner.  I forgot all about it until one fall day when my son came screeching into the house.  “Mommy, Daddy bought you a present!”  I made my way outside to the truck to find our very own generator.  My glee at the purchase surprised me.

We’ve used it several times most notably during the ice storms of ‘08 and once we got our power back, it made the rounds to friends and family until their lights came on. The catch has been that every time we wanted to use it, there needed to be some serious rewiring done before we fired it up.  Just last week, we made arrangements with Nathan Poland from Univolt, LLC, to come today and install the necessary plugs and wiring to make the transition smoother. Yeah, the irony wasn’t lost on us either as the wind howled.

As I type this, Nathan is in the basement toiling away. When all is said and done, I will supposedly be able to fire up this sucker all by myself. I think I can feel my city-kid roots withering away just a little bit.

What is your best/worst power outage story?

Nathan Poland is a Certified Master Electrician and the owner of Univolt, LLC, a an authorized dealer of Generac whole house automatic and portable generators (ours is not a Generac).  If you are interested in learning more about emergency power sources, please contact him at 603-254-4023 or univoltllc (at) gmail (dot) com and tell him you read it here! This information is posted purely as a courtesy to my readers, I received no compensation for mentioning Univolt, LLC.