Join us in a free concert for Sanctuary

Dover Friends Meeting is presenting a free evening of song, scripture, and reflection on the essence and intention of Sanctuary as we seek to build and sustain unity in our leading to offer mercy and love to those in need.

The hour-and-a-half celebration takes place Saturday, March 13, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., and you are welcome to join with us via Zoom.

For years, our community of faith has enjoyed an annual Arts & Letters gathering around this time each winter, an event where we could enjoy the wide range of artistic abilities among us, both amateur and professional, by Friends of all ages. Visual arts and crafts, dramatic readings, original poetry and prose, dance, video productions, gymnastics, even self-defense, and of course music have all been abundant. And this year, as a consequence of Covid, the occasion is taking yet another turn, one with a theme and a venue that will allow folks from all around the world to meet with us in our little corner of seacoast New Hampshire. I already know of one song written especially for this occasion.

Welcome to Dover Friends …

Remember, it’s free, but registration is required. Click here!

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.

 

Cheers!

Charcoal-grilled lamb and asparagus are accompanied by German-style potato salad in our Smoking Garden. The gin-and-tonic beside me belongs to the photographer. I’m sticking to beer. These really are some of the best days of summer. (Photo by Rachel Williams)

 

We’re still questing for a most elusive sauvignon blanc

A few more years ago than I’d like to admit, we were enjoying a special dinner in Portland, Maine, where our waitperson recommended a bottle of wine to accompany our dishes. We trusted her enthusiasm and agreed to go a few dollars higher than our usual ceiling.

It was well worth it and, as we learned later, the restaurant was pricing the bottle at retail rather than the usual three- or four-times any store tag. More points.

We took one sip and knew this was like no other white wine we’d had before – or, for that matter, since, not even from the same winery. It must have been a superfine vintage. It had an edge we could only describe as stony – something crisp, clear, sharp. And it did, indeed, enhance our five-star experience.

Trying to find that edge again has become something of an ongoing challenge. We’ve had some fine sauvignon blanc bottles since, but the holy grail remains a quest.

 

When the price per pound comes down

No longer the cheap, plentiful seafood it once was in New England, lobster is still a specialty. We usually wait till later in the season, when prices fall and fresh corn on the cob is available, before feasting. (Photo by Rachel Williams)

 

Here I am with my buddy Harlan for a repast in our Smoking Garden. He had rubbed their heads in a way to hypnotize them and stand them on their heads before they went into the boiling pot. Said it’s an old Maine tradition. (Photo by Rachel Williams)

 

 

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?

 

Considering bang for the buck in restaurants

We don’t dine out all that often, but when we do, we want to get our money’s worth. It’s not that we’re afraid of the bill, but rather that we eat well at home and expect something that can at least match that standard.

On one hand, we’ve come to admire inexpensive menu items done precisely right. French fries or cole slaw can be especially telling, as can an amazing vanilla, as in ice cream or gelato. Freshness also is crucial, and attentive service is always a plus. That sort of thing.

Steak or lobster aren’t hard to cook, so we don’t expect to be impressed there. Scallops, on the other hand, can be tricky. And then we get to selections that require technique. That’s where we really pay attention.

What does irk us is pretentious, pricy dishes that seriously miss the mark. The stories we can tell!

Our biggest test is what we call the Oh Wow factor. You know, one bite and you’re amazed. It’s not always at the fanciest restaurants, either, so it’s not a matter of cost. Some of our favorite examples have come in storefront operations in the sleaziest parts of a town – the kind where you want to keep an eye on your car at lunchtime. Some have even been takeout only or a food truck.

I have to admit we’re more critical as the menu price escalates, but if they deliver with mastery and attention to detail, we pay gladly – and then some. Best of all, in our positive experiences, the great cooks in my family come away inspired, and I look forward to all that will follow.

What delights you the most when dining out?

Are you an ebook reader?

Now that I’ve been posting about some of the ebooks I’ve been reading, I’d like to hear about your experiences in digital browsing.

Are you among those who are books sold in digital formats, which now fill a fifth of the market?

What platform do you use? Kindle, I assume, is most likely, but there are more? What do you like or dislike about the various platforms?

What are your reasons for going digital?

I have to admit I still love paper and typography, but the economy and lack of clutter in ebooks have their appeal. So, yes, how about you?

Psst! Care to look at the books I’ve been reading?

I was long overdue for a reading orgy — you know, an indulgence in books — and a little while ago, before the quarantine, in fact, I immersed myself in ebooks by other authors at Smashwords. Some of the volumes are even free.

If you’re curious about what I was reading, zip over to the books reviewed by me at the bottom of my Jnana Hodson page at Smashwords.com. Yes, I thought about posting the reviews here, too, but there was already a lot on the agenda.

Most of the ebooks touch in one way or another on topics in my own novels. It’s lovely finding kindred spirits. Well, it’s a lot like the ways we here at WordPress connect, too.