For this week’s photo challenge, here’s some photos of some heirloom apples we picked during a visit to a nearby orchard here in New Hampshire back in October . I can’t remember the name of this apple variety now!


They area very old variety, meant to be used as desert apples. Very sweet, and very firm. They were almost too sweet for an apple. So sweet that they made me wonder if maybe the old New England farmers probably did not have easy access to sugar.




And here’s the orchard’s apple picker.





We did two things today that could fit into this week’s photo theme.


We put up the Christmas lights.  Here they are seen from the inside, looking out through the frost covered windows:



And made Christmas cookies:


Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers

Every spring I lug this huge ficus tree outside so it can get much needed sun in our garden. Then, in the fall I somehow manage to get it back into the house. It spends the Winter months inside, in the sunniest room in the house, one with windows on three sides, even still it does seem to thrive while outside and wilt a little bit while indoors.

Every year it gets a little bit bigger. Every year I get a little bit older. Someday I won’t be able to bring it back in after it’s Summer break outside!


Somewhat less photogenic are the containers that we’re using to grow tomatoes in this year. Kitty litter tubs!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art – Part 2

At the risk of losing my vast audience (ha, ha!) by revealing how much of a book nerd I am, I’ll submit a second entry in this week’s photo challenge, with this week’s theme being: “Work of Art”. Though the post here is more of a story rather than just a photo.

There was an essay in The Wall Street Journal a week or so ago by Bob Greene where he laments the lack of illustrations on magazine and book covers. Not too long ago, you didn’t have to go to a museum to see artwork, you could just go to the newsstand to see the covers of the latest issues of such magazines as the Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker, Colliers, and even Time magazine, to see some great art on their covers. Now just about all magazines and book covers use photographs, much faster and cheaper apparently. The focus of the article is on Norman Rockwell and how in the 40’s and 50’s you could get a piece of Rockwell art for fifteen cents, while now you could pay millions for the original. (Here’s a link to the article )


For a long time, I’ve admired those old illustrations, and while I do like the work of Rockwell, I especially like the illustrations from older Science Fiction magazines and paperbacks. Any book collector types out there from Boston may remember the Avenue Victor Hugo bookstore on Newberry Street. I was fortunate enough to attend College not too far from that bookstore. Or maybe unfortunately, as I spent quite a lot of money there in between classes. I recall the first time I bought a vintage paperback there. The owner of the store wanted me to make sure I also bought a ‘reading copy’ since the one I was buying was very hard to find. I told him not to worry, I was buying it since I liked the cover artist; Richard Powers. He looked at me as if I had two heads as I explained who Richard Powers was. Powers was the Art Director for Ballantine Books in the 50’s and 60’s, providing the covers for hundreds of books, mostly Science Fiction, but some Mysteries and Classics as well.

Powers’ style is similar to Yves Tanguy, with lots of nebulous bobs floating around on brightly colored fields of color. Any identifiable human figures are at least somewhat abstract, with long drawn out limbs, sometimes they are just shadows. His covers have a mysterious, dreamy look.

My work in Advertising may influence my taste here as I like everything from the type fonts used and overall layouts as well. For example, the ones from the 50’s are very much typical for time, with lots of use of Times New Roman. (No wait, don’t go away, type fonts are not boring!)I will read them, but my main interest is really in the cover designs!

And the titles! “Those Idiots From Earth”, what could be better for a Sci-Fi book from the mid 50’s ?




I think this is one of the first ones I bought. I may have spent just $5 or $6, though they are getting much harder to find now. I’m not sure how much they go for these days, I don’t really check values on places like ‘Ebay’.



Another great title here “Get Out of My Sky!”





Here’s one from the late 60’s. The font used on the title looks similar to what was used on Sci-Fi movie titles of the time, such as ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.


Here’s a couple more:






Ok, so that’s just a few of the maybe 50 or 60 I have. Yes, I am a nerd. And what’s worse, it’s not as though I’m a typical Sci-Fi nerd too. When I find one of these, I don’t say ‘Wow, a book by Wilson Tucker!”, I say “Look at the use of red in the background, and in the “X” of the title, and the large point size used in the title too!”

So don’t throw away those old paperbacks, bring them to the used bookstore, there’s art fans for everything and someone out there might be a fan of the cover designer!

WPC: Spring

This week’s photo challenge is ‘Spring’, and as usual, I’m late posting!

Spring in Southern New England is the brief time in between turning off the furnace and turning on the air conditioner. It usually lasts about two weeks. Once it’s over, we go into hazy, hot, and humid New England Summer. These brief weeks tend to be rainy, cloudy, and cold, with a few bright sunny days mixed in. So we try to get as much gardening done as possible now to take advantage of all the rain.

I tend to be a very unorganized gardener, which will be apparent as I describe these photos.

A month or so ago, I posted a photo of some vegetable seeds we had started; basil, dill, a few varieties of tomato, Swiss chard, and a few others. Though which tomato variety is which, I now have no idea. I’ve been trying to take them out for a few hours each day to harden them before transplanting, though most days have been too rainy and windy to do that. Maybe I’ll be able to transplant in a week or so.


Here are a few Iris bulbs, with some other perennials mixed in. have no idea what variety of Iris these are. A neighbor gave them to me many years ago. She had found next to an abandoned ginger ale bottling plant, so I call them the Ginger Ale Iris. They are a light yellow color so it seems to be an appropriate name.



Where did these tulips come from? I didn’t plant them, they just suddenly appeared among my rose bushes. Must have been left by the previous owners, though that was 14 years ago!


A hosta and some Tiger Lilies. In New England, if nothing else is going to grow somewhere, then plant some Tiger Lilies. Or just wait awhile and some will appear there anyway.


Usually Spring for me has meant a trip to Blanchette Gardens in Carlisle, Massachusetts. This is where I bought all of my perennials. Unfortunately, the owners retired last year, so I’ll have to find somewhere else to go. I’ll miss going there as it was a relaxing place to browse through their rows of native perennials, most of them very hard to find elsewhere. They sold their plants by their Latin names, with small plastic tags attached to each pot. I would keep each tag once I transplanted them, thinking that I would somehow keep track of them. But have I ever done that, No. So here’s a row of my perennials, just about all are from Blanchette, many have been here as long as I have been living here. Do I know the names of any of them ? Nope, not a single one!

I still have those tags with the Latin names somewhere, I should try to match up the names to the plants. Yeah, I’m sure I’ll do that.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

When I was a kid, 40 plus years ago, my grandfather would take me to Regina’s Pizzeria in Boston’s North End neighborhood on Saturday afternoons. It’s been in the same location since 1926, and I think it probably looks pretty much the same as it looked in 1926. We went there fairly often, so this is a favorite spot of mine, I suppose partly since it is a reminder of my childhood. We live about an hour away now, so we don’t get a chance to go here very often. Yesterday was the first beautiful Spring day, so we took a trip down to my old hometown, about 40 miles south of where we are in New Hampshire, for a day of exploring with Mr. C.

In a former life, I worked in an office building in this neighborhood, and a few years later I worked in neighboring Charlestown. On nice Spring days like this, the tourists were easily spotted. Standing on street corners with a map in hand, suddenly lost in the narrow streets of one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods. I would sometimes ask some of them if they needed help. More often than not they were looking for some well known place. Were they looking for the Paul Revere house, or the famous Paul Revere statue, the Old North Church, the USS Constitution, the Bunker Hill Monument ? All of which are in the North End or Charlestown. No, those monuments were always clearly marked on the tourist maps. Most Revolutionary War era monuments like these are easily found on the Freedom Trail, which is a thin red stripe marked on the pavement through Boston. No, they were looking for a good place to eat and would ask me where some of the famous Boston restaurants were, like the Warren Tavern, Durgin Park, Union Oyster House, or one of the many well known old places in the North End, like this old pizza place. I suppose I could be wrong about those tourists, they may have just been looking for restaurants since I was usually out of the office only around lunchtime!




Yesterday we arrived early, just as they opened at 11:00am. Later in the day there is usually a line of people waiting to get in. Here’s the interior. The walls are covered with pictures of old Boston, shots of the restaurant staff from years ago, as well as a few photos of celebrities who have dined there. Unfortunately, we had to eat with Leonardo DiCaprio glaring down from us on the wall!

Maybe the only major change is the addition of the TV on the wall. Yesterday it was playing a horse race. Seeing the horse race was another reminder of going here with my grandfather sine he would sometimes take me to the track once we were done with the pizza. ‘Now don’t tell your mother we went to the track’, he would say.

The booths are very narrow, high backed wooden benches. I suppose people in 1926 were quite a bit thinner than they are now! I think these are the same tables I remember from when I was a kid too. 20140413-092651.jpg

Here’s the pizza. Sausage and mushroom. Does our 4 year old eat pizza crust ? He actually eats everything, so there was nothing left of the pizza when we left. Looks like the love of food is a family trait!


From there we went on to Polcari’s Coffee. Another Boston institution, founded in 1932. I don’t have an exterior shot of this one, just an interior shot of the wall of coffee bins, with the bins of various flours and nuts below. I got a pound of their Italian Roast coffee. My grandfather would get coffee here as well.



From there we went to Mike’s Pastry. Another institution! There is a rival pastry shop down the street, Modern Pastry, which has a great old neon sign that I now wish I had a picture of! Mr. C had a gelato at Mike’s, and I bought a pound of almond biscotti cookies. Yes, it’s all about the food with me !

OK, so here’s some actual monuments in the area.

Paul Revere statue:




Old North Church, which is where Revere set out his lanterns to raise the alarm during the American Revolution.20140413-102115.jpg

Bunker Hill Monument in nearby Charlestown. Commemorating the battle of Bunker Hill.


All of these historic places are worthwhile to visit, and I’m sure we’ll take Mr. C to them when he’s a little older, though I think I’ll always like the old places listed at the start of this post a bit more than the famous historic sites in the area. Could be just the food, or it could be that my grandfather liked food as much as I do now.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

The Weekly Photo Challenge theme is ‘Threshold’.  The idea may be to add in a philosophical note with the photo, something about how the photo is a metaphor for something else,  view to a new beginning or something like that.  I don’t have anything very philosophical to add this week, nothing about how being a ‘Stay at Home Dad’ has changed my outlook, or the idea that I’ll be entering a new phase soon as Mr. C enters kindergarten in the Fall.  All I have is a very literal contribution, it’s an actual threshold on my workbench.

Two years ago, we had our bathroom floor redone.  As a result of the new tile having a different height than the old linoleum, the old threshold no longer fits in the same spot.  The floor guy was skilled enough to be able to take out the threshold in one piece though.  It wouldn’t take much work to get it back in to the same spot, I just need to remove a bit from the bottom.  I’ll probably need a special router bit to do it. Have I been able to make any progress at all on this project in the past two years ?   No.    I’ve been working on plenty of other things though, this is just getting pushed further and further down the big list of things to do around the house.

Oh well, that’s what it’s like having an old house. I think ‘replace the threshold to the bathroom’ is number 174 on the big list of things to do around the house.  Or maybe it’s just being too exhausted chasing after the 4 year old most of the time that I haven’t done this yet, which may qualify as the philosophical portion of the post after all.