Did you know nonprofits are a big part of the economy?

In my novel Nearly Canaan, Jaya resumes her career in nonprofit enterprises – a field she left in moving to the Yoga Bootcamp from Manhattan.

Running nonprofits turns out to be a management specialty – and they are a major player in the economy, even if you don’t read a lot about them in the business section of the newspaper.

Here are some considerations.


  1. The nonprofit sector accounts for $65 billion of the U.S. economy – 5.4 percent of the gross national product.
  2. Nonprofits hire a tenth of the workforce – more than national defense, construction, real estate, and space exploration combined.
  3. There are more than 1.2 million public charities and foundations in the country.
  4. Only one-third of the organizations file with the IRS, leaving the rest off of the economic radar.
  5. The 950,000 public charity organizations – ranging across arts, culture, education, health care, and human services – comprise two-thirds of the nonprofits sector.
  6. Most of them are small. Nearly 30 percent of the public service organizations operate at under $100,000 a year. The largest group, 37 percent, runs between $100,000 and $499,999. The largest group, of $10 million or more, is just 5.3 percent of the organizations but doles out 87 percent of the money.
  7. Nearly half of their revenue comes from fees for services and goods – ticket sales, tuition, hospital fees, membership fees, and product sales. Another third comes from government programs and grants. The remainder comes from donations (15 percent) and investment income (5 percent).
  8. Religion is the largest charity category, with a third of the pot, followed by education, 13 percent. Other standouts: Health, at 7.4 percent; arts, culture, and humanities at 4.1 percent; environment or animals, 2 percent.
  9. One in four Americans volunteers time and service to these causes. Their volunteer service, averaging 52 hours a year per person, is valued at $1.5 trillion. They also donate $358 billion in fundraising.
  10. The total assets of public charities in the U.S. comes to $3.7 trillion.


Do you donate to any nonprofit groups? Do you volunteer? Do you rely on their services?


Where King Salmon reigns

In my novel Nearly Canaan, Joshua and Jaya settle into a place unlike anything they would have imagined. Though they live in desert, it still spawns salmon.

Oh, what a fish.


  1. There are eight commercially important species of salmon in the Pacific, and nine in the Atlantic.
  2. Some species can reach five feet in length and 110 pounds in weight.
  3. The body color changes, depending on habitat and the mating seasons. It’s not always the dark orange we see on our dinner plate.
  4. They have a lot of natural enemies, including big fish, whales, sea lions, and bears. Commercial and sport fishermen take a big toll, too.
  5. They’re healthy food, rich in proteins, Vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  6. They can survive three to eight years in the wild.
  7. They travel thousands of miles from their freshwater spawning areas out to the sea and then return to their birthplace to spawn more. They can climb up to 7,000 feet elevation from the sea to accomplish this. Most will then die of exhaustion.
  8. They do not eat any food during the time they swim upstream to spawn.
  9. Swimming upstream, they can jump two yards in the air.
  10. A female Chinook salmon can carry more than 4,000 eggs.

A few other Granite State bloggers

Coming up on my tenth year of blogging, I can say I’ve seen a lot of changes in the online practice and what’s being posted.

One of the joys, no doubt about it, is connecting with other bloggers in our shared interests.

I happen to live in a fairly small state, about a million and a half population, with the majority of them living in the Merrimack Valley in the lower middle third of the geography, or along the towns bordering Massachusetts or in the compact Seacoast region. In other words, most of the residents dwell in a connected swath that leaves the bulk of the state pretty rural.

It’s always fun to read blogs by others who post from nearby and often to weigh in with my own comments or to hear theirs.

By the way, I think every place feels special, or should. Take heart, wherever you are, and celebrate what’s worthy.

Gardening is big here, and the state has always had more than its share of poets. That could provide its own Tendrils listing.

As a sampling, here are ten other blogs from the Granite State. I have a feeling I’m missing some significant others that aren’t tagging the state – say people serializing their novel or focusing on poetry or some other topic. I’d like to hear about these in the comments.


  1. Gifts in Open Hands: Maren C. Mirabassi is a fine poet and retired United Church of Christ pastor, two labors she blends with a sensitive social conscience at this site. She writes from the Seacoast region.
  2. New Hampshire Garden Solutions: What started out as a gardening blog has morphed into an exploration of the natural world, focused in the southwestern corner of the state – the Monadnock region, mostly. The posts are typically a walk in the woods and detailed photos identifying the wildlife along the way. It’s like hiking with a truly knowledgeable naturalist.
  3. New England Garden and Thread: A Master Gardener (she’s passed the curriculum) and avid quilter, this grandmother roams far beyond the the planted beds and covered beds for her posts. Welcome to her world.
  4. New Hampshire Gardening: John Kittredge, a former environmental science teacher at Brookline High School, has been chronicling his garden work this year. This is serious.
  5. Protean Wanderer: The White Mountains fill much of the state. Here are reports on many of the great trails and mountain climbs, accompanied by photos. As you’ll discover, there are many fine choices to consider.
  6. Ink Link, Where All Things Manchester Connect: Carol Robideaux, one of my favorite reporters in the years I spent in the newsroom, has lately been covering the state’s Queen City on her own. In an era of struggling journalism, one person can make a difference.
  7. Milford Street: Photography by Christopher O’Keefe, who works from Manchester. Yes, here’s how it looks.
  8. A Life of Granite in New Hampshire: A native of Sri Lanka, Anura Garuge now posts prolifically from his adopted Granite State. I’m guessing he lives somewhere between Rochester and Laconia, meaning not too far from me, yet he captures a much different terroir.
  9. Why Pears: Ellen Garnett, a talented 24-year-old poet in Exeter, tends “this little rabbit hole” addressing “those peripheral items, ideas, emotions and stories that don’t always receive the attention they deserve.” As she says, it’s writing that tickles the mind.
  10. Ragged Good Looks: Technically not a New Hampshire blog, this one comes from across the state line in Kittery, Maine – what we sometimes think of as a Portsmouth suburb. I love the young artist-on-the-make vibe and daily realities. Besides, it’s just downstream from us.

One other I’ll mention is Isabel Povey, where a 17-year-old Pinkerton Academy beauty queen posts with all of the gushing exuberance you might expect, even in a Covid-restricted era. Yeah, her Seeds of Hope is mostly self-promotion, but I find it refreshing.

We bloggers aren’t all retirees or struggling arts and writers! Yay!

And then the state often pops up in posts by visiting bloggers. Have you ever been here?

We’re coming up on what would have been the big 50th anniversary Revels Christmas production

Every December, the Boston Revels produces a new winter solstice celebration that now plays to 18 sold-out performances in Harvard’s historic Sanders Theatre. Or did, before the Covid-19 restrictions.

From their first round in 1970, the shows have grown into a unique hybrid of storytelling, theater, dance, concert, audience singalong and other participation. Each year focuses on a different corner of the world or a historical event.

Guest artists bring their traditions to the company, and the costuming and sets are always spectacular. Nobody could forget the big canoe that came flying out over the audience in a Canadian show a couple of decades back.

Well, this year’s production won’t be live in the flesh, but rather a streamed online retrospective. I don’t really know how to count it. Still, if you go to the revels.org website, you can attend a virtual show wherever you dwell. Admittedly, it won’t quite be the same.

Here are ten we’ve especially enjoyed.


  1. Leonardo da Vinci. This was founder John Langstaff’s final appearance with the troupe, and it focused on three different cities in Renaissance Italy.    
  2. The road to Campostela. The culture of Spain’s Galatian region was featured in this homage to the pilgrimage known as The Way. Storyteller Jay O’Callahan was captivating, the flamenco was quite moving, and you wouldn’t forget those Spanish bagpipes.
  3. Wales. There’s more to the British enclave than Dylan Thomas, though it did provide the timeframe for this production.
  4. England’s Crystal Palace. How truly Victorian.
  5. Venice in the 1500s. The music wasn’t all Italian and Latin, by the way. The Croatian, Sephardic, and Turkish pieces were all hits. And the story was a delightful comedy.
  6. Acadia and Cajun. We followed the life and expulsion of this French-speaking people from Canada to New Orleans. The big tree at the back of the stage kept shifting color as needed, and the stream of immigrants into exile seemed to be endless, even though it was only the chorus of children and adults repeating their exodus toward the audience.
  7. Nordic. Six languages, including English, big slices of the Kalevala myth, and a lot of polkas. The Scandinavian fiddles are distinctive.
  8. Armenia and Georgia. I loved the economy of this one. The first act centered on a pilgrim in Armenia, where the Christian church took root at the foot of Mount Arrat, the landing place of Noah and his ark. From there, the second act followed him one locale over, to the Republic of Georgia. Though so close together, the traditions were also strikingly different. The Revels headquarters is in Watertown, a major center of Armenian population and culture, so finding a great cantor was no problem.
  9. Scotland. Langstaff had a passion for Britain, and its folk culture is deeply engrained in the Revels DNA. We didn’t get to the acclaimed Irish show, but this one included reels we still dance in New England as well as songs familiar and rare.
  10. American roots.  Last year’s show started at a rural radio station somewhere in the South and covered a lot of ground by the end.


What live Christmas season events have become part of your tradition?


Facts about the mills in Dover

  1. The Cocheco Manufacturing Company had the largest overshot flywheel in the world. It powered the looms and shuttles inside the long five- and six-story building.
  2. It was the scene of the first all-women’s strike in U.S. back in 1828.
  3. The mills once had 1,200 workers.
  4. There were more than 100 company-owned boarding houses.
  5. The town itself wrapped around the mills rather than to one side.
  6. Less than half of the mill complex remains.
  7. The printworks produced 1,000 new patterns a year.
  8. Mill workers received free milk from the company’s herd on Milk Street. Urine from the cows was essential as the fix (stabilizer) for dyes in the fabrics.
  9. Calico, sateen, velvet, and seersucker were the principal textiles produced.
  10. Fire was a constant threat, on occasion erupting spectacularly.


What is it about Memphis?

In my novel Yoga Bootcamp, Jaya’s guru is a native of Memphis, there on the Mississippi River.

And much of the action in my novels Nearly Canaan and The Secret Side of Jaya takes place in Arkansas, right across the river.

It’s more influential than I’d thought.

Here are ten tidbits.


  1. It’s populous. With a metro population of more than 1.3 million, Greater Memphis is the most populous locality in Tennessee. However, the city itself has 650,000 residents, making it second behind Nashville.  
  2. FedEx headquarters. The airport is the world’s second-biggest cargo operation.
  3. The river. The busy shipping port moves 11 million tons of cargo a year, much of it arriving by train or truck.
  4. King Cotton. Half of the nation’s cotton is traded at the Cotton Exchange on the riverfront.
  5. Music. Sun Records (founded in 1950) became the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s. It was the first label to record Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash. It was sold in 1969 and eventually moved to Nashville. Meanwhile, Stax Records (1959-1976) was a fountain of the Memphis Sound, mixing blues, rhythm and blues, and soul.
  6. Graceland. Presley’s mansion is visited by 600,000 tourists each year. In America, only the White House attracts more.
  7. Civil rights. The motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in 1968 now houses the National Civil Rights Museum, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate.
  8. Edible flesh: The city is the largest livestock and meatpacking center in the South.
  9. Fire up: The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest each May offers $110,000 in prizes.
  10. Namesake: It’s named for the city on the Nile in Egypt.


Ever been there? What struck your fancy?


Things I’d do if I were president

It’s in the air. Can’t help but wonder.

  1. Raise taxes on the super-rich to bring them more into line with the rest of the populace. Like if you own 50 percent of the wealth, you pay at least 50 percent of the federal budget. Use the income for health care, education, and similar benefits for all citizens. (Yes, it’s income redistribution … but so is an economy where cheap imports keep lowering wages.)
  2. Support environmental action and sustainable economics. We’d be back in the Paris climate control accords, for certain.
  3. Raise the cap on Social Security contributions by the rich. Of course, we can afford Social Security if we’re willing. Just raise the cap on the superrich.
  4. Demand auditing controls on military expenditures. Bernie’s right on this one.
  5. Impose a national sales tax for health care relief for domestic manufacturers. This would level the playing field when it comes to imports versus homegrown.
  6. The next step? Medicare for all.
  7. Raise the minimum wage. Nobody can live on the current level. It’s an insult to the value of labor.
  8. Recognize a shorter work week as the basis for benefits and workplace protections.
  9. Break up the banking and financial conglomerates. Too big to fail is an invitation to another colossal collapse.
  10. Name Barack Obama to the Supreme Court.


OK, since we’re dreaming, I’d also have a problem-solving Congress. One without Mitch McConnell.

What would you do?

Feel like quitting?

Got the day after Labor Day blues? Think of a job or school or volunteer post. Whatever. If you need an excuse, you can always tell them something like this.

  1. I’m tired.
  2. Won Megabucks.
  3. Am about to be beamed up, out of here.
  4. Got a better offer.
  5. Have had enough B.S.
  6. Don’t like the public I’m dealing with or my coworkers or the setting or my surroundings.
  7. Don’t agree with policy.
  8. Can’t live with the dress code.
  9. Just don’t care.
  10. It’s too expensive compared to the pay.


And here I am, retired.

What would you add as an excuse?


What makes for a memorable getaway?

Getaway? I was about to say vacation. Who am I trying to kid? I’m retired!

Actually, when I was dutifully employed, “vacation” usually meant hunkering down at home to concentrate on my literary enterprises and revision, or maybe even a reading orgy, or taking off to a family or Quaker gathering. T’ain’t quite the same as going fancy free. Still, I managed to get away on some memorable trips.

In this list, I’m ruling out daytrips. Gotta be an overnight, at the least.

Here are ten I remember fondly, sometimes even from repeated visits.


  1. Appalachian Trail. Backpacking when I was barely 12 was an ordeal. One that’s everlasting deeply imprinted in my soul, especially the mountaintop of blooming rhododendron at the end of our week. What I recall most is the discovery that if you go far enough away from the trailhead, the litter disappears … and then you’re in a whole new, pristine, world.
  2. Fort Warden. The location itself didn’t overwhelm me, even though it overlooked the point where Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca come together. I think that was because of all the remaining fortifications. But such incredible waters! The former World War II naval post had become a Washington state park for the arts and hosted a weeklong workshop with some of my favorite poets. Nearby Port Townsend gave us some fun bars for our evenings. The former base is featured in the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
  3. North Cascades National Park. My three times of camping there and a single mountain climb with views of Mount Shuksan included finding gold dust in my dishes as I washed them in a mountain stream that swelled with melting ice during the day. I had no idea how many tall peaks rise in British Columbia till I crested the summit that day and looked north.
  4. San Francisco. It was the southernmost point of a two-week vacation that included North Pacific Yearly Meeting sessions in Olympia, Washington, and camping in the North Cascades. My then-wife and I spent two nights in our sleeping bags in the San Francisco Friends meetinghouse (I think we paid two dollars a day). My introduction to fine Japanese and Thai cuisine came just around the corner. Why haven’t I returned?
  5. Chicago. Repeatedly, each one leaving vivid memories. The art museum alone is worth the trip, but I’ve also spent time high in the Chicago Tribune tower with Pulitzer-winning journalists. The last few visits were helped by having a lover residing in Hyde Park.
  6. Greensboro, North Carolina. It was a genealogy-research trip that then swung northeast to Philadelphia and Brooklyn. I need to go back and see more, now that I know what to expect.
  7. Lake Sebago region. The year before I remarried, I spent a week in October in a rustic cabin on the shore of Crescent Lake in Maine. Cold nights required a wood fire, that sort of thing. Learned to canoe there, too. Guess it was my Walden Pond experience.
  8. Cape Cod. Since the kids’ grandfather lived in Wellfleet, we had a great excuse to visit. It was an easy walk to the ocean and a short drive to Provincetown.
  9. Providence. We found a great deal on a luxury downtown hotel, one where we looked down on the dome of the Rhode Island state capitol. The mattresses alone were enough to make us not want to go anywhere else, but we did enjoy innovative cuisine and easy public transportation. Our strolls along the river and Colonial neighborhoods were enchanting. And then there was our tour of the Slater Mill and the industrial revolution.
  10. Eastport, Maine. To put this in context, we had earlier visited Camden in dead winter and were delighted. But that’s a tony, crowded tourist hive each summer and way out of our league. Ditto for another B&B up the shore in Belfast, when we attended the Common Ground Fair. Our trip to Eastport on a Memorial Day weekend, however, was more inviting. The unpretentious, working-class easternmost city in the U.S. simply felt like the real thing. And yes, the ocean views and fresh seafood were spectacular.


Where would you suggest? Any great memories?

Ten things to do in Dover

The city where I live is basically a family-friendly kind of place. We don’t have much of what tourists might expect as a big-time destination. Still, there are times when my wife and I are having breakfast or lunch or an early repast downtown when we realize people travel halfway across the country for a taste of this – tranquil New England.

Here are ten things to see and do if you visit the seventh-oldest permanent settlement in the U.S.

  1. Cocheco Falls. Whether the flow’s near flood stage or merely a trickle, I can spend hours watching the river cascade to the tide right in the center of downtown. The stream exits through an impressive arch in the mill. In season, you can dine or enjoy cocktails a deck beside the water. I think that’s pretty impressive.
  2. The historic textiles mills. In the 19th century, Dover was famed for its calico, and two of its big riverside mills have survived. Today they serve as incubators for new enterprises, including some adventurous cuisine, plus displays, boutiques, artists’ studios and galleries, apartments, a function hall, and even a church or two, should you choose to explore. Of special note are Noggin’s toy store, with its special events, Lickees and Chewies candies and ice cream chamber and gathering space, and the Smuttynose brewpub. Need I say more?
  3. The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire and its Adventure Playground. Nestled amid the old mills, this small but imaginative and active museum attracts nearly 100,000 visitors a year for good reason. It’s gained a loyal following from all over the country.,
  4. Woodman Museum. Just up the street, this old-fashioned and unabashedly eclectic “cabinet of curiosities” collection reflects the range of Dover history, natural history, and arts. The centerpiece is its 1675 William Damm garrison house, now under protective cover. The rough-hewn structure survived the 1684 massacre when Indians attacked the frontier settlement in retaliation for atrocities committed by Major Walderne (or Waldron). Its most popular attraction, though, is the two-headed snake, now badly deteriorating, or maybe the four-legged chicken. And then there are the dolls.
  5. Garrison Hill observation tower. Tucked away on a small hill just north of downtown, this green metal lookout has fantastic views of the classic downtown and the forests and mountains around us. Supposedly you can see the Atlantic, but for me, that scene always blends into the eastern horizon. The short hike from our house, up through a small forest, always impresses our guests.
  6. Strolling. It’s a pedestrian-friendly town. Around the downtown, the old neighborhoods, with their blend of architectural styles and history, are fun to wander. Add to that the community trail, with one leg following an old railroad line through backyards and over the river, where there’s an impressively redesigned bridge, and another leg leading up to Watkins Falls through scenes that could easily be in the White Mountains further north. Can’t complain about getting exercise when it’s like this.
  7. Pub crawl. I’ve already mentioned Smuttynose, named for a variety of mottle-faced seals that lend their moniker to one of the Isles of Shoals, but with Dover’s large proportion of University of New Hampshire students also living in town, our small city does have a lively bar scene. Key stops to hit are the Brickhouse and Cara Irish Pub, for live music, and Sonny’s, for a Brooklyn kind of buzz. Fury’s Publick House, Thompson Tavern, the Farm (with a lovely deck overlooking the river), 603 (named for our telephone area code), and Thirsty Moose Taphouse (for sports fans or a wide array of draughts on tap). Chapel and Main also brews its own, while presenting some fine cuisine. The Garrison City Beerworks, a sampling house for brews they’ll happily can for you to take home, is open on a more limited afternoon schedule, and it’s often crowded, meaning you can easily join in on some animated conversations.
  8. Dining. Food is always part of travel, and I just mentioned some fine dining options. Now let’s add Dos Amigos, for good inexpensive Mexican; Kaophums, for amazing Thai; and Embers and Blue Latitudes, both on the upscale side, all in a close orb around downtown. For breakfast or lunch, Two Home Cooks is awesome.
  9. Tendercrop Farm. Until recently, this was Tuttles, America’s oldest family-owned farm and locally known as Tuttle’s Red Barn, a prompt for the title of this blog. In addition to the store in the barn, the farm has expanded into something of a destination, with animal exhibits, picnic areas, trails, and special events. The fresh corn on the cob and eggs are the focus of our regular visits.
  10. Red’s Shoe Barn. It’s not really a barn, but the exterior is painted bright red – another local prompt for the name of this blog. The place has more footwear options than all the stores at the mall put together and is a back-to-school tradition for many families in much of New England. It’s just around the corner from our place.

Since this list aims at year-’round options, I’ve neglected special events like the Labor Day weekend Greek Festival (opa!) coming up or the big Apple Harvest Day the first Saturday in October or all the things happening at the University of New Hampshire one town over.

What’s something special to do where you live?