‘Rural Living’ Category

  1. Eggless!

    April 3, 2010 by Jennifer Carsen

    Unless the Easter Bunny has just done an extremely good job of hiding them, there are no Cadbury Mini Eggs to be found on the New Hampshire seacoast. These are not to be confused with Cadbury Creme Eggs, the big chocolate ones with the gooey centers, complete with yolk – I always thought the yolk was a particularly nice touch. Delicious, yes, but I wanted the mini eggs to top cupcakes; substituting the creme eggs for this particular purpose could be considered overkill. (I’d feel compelled to serve an ampoule of insulin alongside each cupcake at that point.)

    At first I thought they might have discontinued the mini eggs, but it appears that other savvy Eastertide shoppers have just beaten me to them. It’s been interesting to see the different reactions of male and female store clerks when I inquire as to their whereabouts – I think it’s clear that women are the Easter Bunny’s primary helpers when it comes to filling the baskets each year:

    Female clerk: Oh, sorry, we sold out of the Cadbury Mini Eggs last week.

    Male clerk, Store #1: Try Aisle 4. (Aisle 4 is the pickle and mustard aisle. I believe his MO is to send everyone to Aisle 4 when he’s not sure where something is.)

    Male clerk, Store #2: [Gazing blankly at the chockablock shelves of packaged pastel sweets in front of him and grabbing a bag of something foil-wrapped] Uhhhh, these are pretty small…whaddya think?


  2. PBOOH, Part 2

    March 31, 2010 by Jennifer Carsen

    Back in February, I blogged about the various procedural hoops we’ve been jumping through to get our building permit approved – we’re adding on a new bedroom and new bathroom to make room for the Olive.

    Earlier this month, we attended a meeting of what I have started referring to as the Portsmouth Board Of Old Houses (PBOOH). PBOOH is in charge of approving any exterior changes to structures in Portsmouth’s historic district, which as far as I can tell is pretty much the entire city with the exception of a carefully circumscribed radius around the Dunkin’ Donuts (because even historical preservationists need a Munchkin fix every now and then).

    The meeting was interesting – we saw the board lament the possibility of a “shiny vinyl awning” added to a restaurant (the architect was sent away to explore canvas alternatives), decry the passing era of cedar roofing shakes, shudder in collective horror at a backlit Coldwell Banker sign downtown that had somehow slipped through the procedural cracks, and expound upon the virtues of pristine riverfront rooflines unmarred by HVAC vents.

    By the time they got to us and our decidedly non-historic house, nearly 3 hours had passed and they were running out of steam. Other than a small change to the proposed line of our new roof, we were basically given the green light. I say “basically” because we still need to return next month to get the official go-ahead when the plans are finalized.

    All of this folderol, mind you, has nothing whatsoever to do with the approval of the Portsmouth zoning board, which is an entirely separate monthly meeting and a separate approval process. Due to the way the two meetings are scheduled, we were unable to get our paperwork in as required (12 sets of final plans in Garamond 13-point font, embossed in gold leaf, delivered by freshly manicured hand no fewer than 18.5 business days before the day of the meeting, unless the meeting occurs in a month with two or more vowels, in which case 17.5 days prior are sufficient) before the next zoning board meeting. So we have been bumped to May.

    As far as I can tell, we are on track to have the Olive’s bedroom finished just about the time she heads off to college. (Hopefully PBOOH isn’t aware of this blog. I’m sure they don’t take kindly to mouthers-off; we’re nearly as undesirable as backlit signs.)


  3. Small Children and Palm Fronds Don’t Mix

    March 29, 2010 by Jennifer Carsen

    Yesterday, Eric and I joined my mom at church for Palm Sunday. For those of you unfamiliar with the Christian calendar, Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, commemorating Jesus’s triumphant ride into Jerusalem to a palm-waving crowd of adoring fans. It’s an upbeat day – things don’t really go south for Jesus until the latter portion of the week (betrayal, crucifixion, burial behind a big rock from which he miraculously emerges on Easter Sunday).

    At many churches, the palms are pre-folded into wallet-size crosses – while convenient, these origami versions lack the drama and festivity of the unadulterated originals, which are generally somewhere around two-plus feet long and which were passed out yesterday to everyone in church – including all the children.

    Seeing approximately 30 small children turned loose with their palm fronds was a hoot. They waved them around as they processed in, inadvertently whacking several members of the choir in the face as they walked by. During children’s time with the minister, one young congregant slyly and repeatedly poked the minister in the shoulder with the pointy end of his. Another little boy secured his around his forehead, Rambo-style, and threaded another one in perpendicularly so that it ran down his nose. The little girls seemed partial to braiding their palms and/or using them as horsey reins.

    It’s a good thing that there are no Christian holidays involving large, splintery sticks.


  4. Ah, the Irony

    February 5, 2010 by Jennifer Carsen

    Loyal readers may recall a post a few months back about the possibility of our house being taken over by eminent domain in several years’ time to make room for a new 4-lane bridge. As far as we know, this remains a slim yet real possibility.

    Yesterday, we received word that our building permit (necessary for the new construction that will eventually accomodate our new bedroom – complete with TV – and bathroom) is being held up because we are in a historic district and will need to present our case in person to the people in charge of the Portsmouth Board of Old Houses (or whatever it’s called). The PBOOH meets only once a month, and we have missed the Feburary meeting, so everything’s on hold until March.

    Bear in mind that our house has been added onto so many times over so many years that it bears no resemblance to any known architectural style; historic integrity is not a concern here. The PBOOH factor does explain why our next-door neighbors had so much trouble getting permission to tear down their circa-1950 eyesore garage last year.

    The good news is that I’m going to whip out the “Historic District” card if it ever comes to pass that the government wants to appropriate our house. The bad news is that Eric’s sleepytime viewing of ESPN, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the inimitable Yo Gabba Gabba has been pushed back for another month.


  5. A Little (Radioactive) Taste of Springfield

    December 28, 2009 by Jennifer Carsen

    We just received a calendar in the mail – the cover features a lovely sepia photo of an old church in a nearby town.

    How nice, I thought. The NH Historical Society is sending out calendars to area residents.

    Then I took a closer look at the calendar and realized it is the official 2010 Emergency Public Information Calendar for “neighbors of Seabrook Station.” Seabrook is the nuclear power plant a few towns over.

    Interspersed with the folksy antique photos of churches, sailing ships, and homes are some seriously not-messing-around instructions for what we’re supposed to do in the event of an incident (they seem to be avoiding the terms “meltdown” and “China Syndrome,” for some reason).

    Every included town has its own map with emergency bus information and routes, as well as information about “Reception Centers” – a welcoming and highly euphemistic term for “Where you go when life as you know it comes to a screeching halt.”

    There’s also a classification of kinds of emergencies – my favorite is the “unusual event,” classified as a “minor event…no release of radioactive matter is expected…you would not have to do anything.” I guess this is when, e.g., Homer Simpson spills his coffee on the reactor control panel but nothing gets shorted out. The most serious is the “general emergency,” when radioactive matter is not only expected to be released, but “could go well beyond the plant site.” (Homer enters the plant, switches off all of the containment protections, and begins flinging radioactive doughnuts at passing cars.)

    The good news is that there’s a whole page about potassium iodide (KI) – where to get it, proper dosages for everyone from adults to infants, and how it protects our thyroid glands from absorbing a radioactive form of iodine that might be released during a nuclear incident. Young children should be given only an eighth of a tablet, and “children should receive their dose in milk, water, applesauce, or pudding.”

    I’m quite certain that, in the event of a “general emergency,” I will not have the presence of mind to be juggling pill-splitters and Jell-O pudding cups. Fortunately, the calendar goes on to say (with incongruous enthusiasm) that “In an emergency situation where it is not possible to cut a tablet into these sizes, administer the complete 130-mg. tablet. The benefits of doing so far outweigh the risks of overdosing!”

    I am not feeling reassured.


  6. Dance Fever

    December 9, 2009 by Jennifer Carsen

    From today’s Portsmouth Herald:

    Portsmouth Sues The Page Bar Over “Dancing”

    The city has filed a lawsuit against the owners of The Page Restaurant and Bar for allowing dancing in the restaurant’s basement nightclub. But Page owners said they have no control over whether their patrons bust a move.

    “We don’t promote it, we don’t encourage it, we don’t advertise as dance club … We don’t want to be known as a dance club. If people come down and wiggle a little bit, what do we do? Tell them to stop? Throw them out?” said [Page owner] Dussi.

    Maybe Gloria Estefan was right – it seems the rhythm really is going to get you.

    P.S. Extra credit to Portsmouth Herald writer Adam Leech, for working the phrase “bust a move” into the lead paragraph of a feature news story.