Eighty, oh yeah

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Sunny and 80˚ at the moment. I had a 3.5-mile walk.

U-15 girls lacrosse victory (12-5) last night v. Amherst, a good team. Then John and I had a date at Margarita’s. He’s off to Dallas for recurrent training today. He’ll miss the girls’ last choral concerts tomorrow evening (at 6:30 at NHS and 7 at WHS).

I’m off to JoAnn Fabrics for 2-inch-wide embroidery tape to sew straps on my youngest’s strapless dress for the Saturday semi-formal, otherwise she’s illegal for entry onto school grounds.

We’ve had a baltimore oriole visiting since we put out some orange slices. I’ll try for a pic.

CARNIVAL OF ICE CREAM #1 – May

The assignment: Eat sweet and blog

The ice cream bloggers…
(I will continue to add links today, and through the next couple of days if needed.)

Here on Atlantic Ave., I think summer is peachy, especially with the Beach Plum a mere 2-and-half-mile jog away (ha).

Food_2 Why does Mississippian William T. “Terry” Thornton love vanilla ice cream best? He dishes in Sliced Bread, Milk, and Ice Cream in the Hill Country.

I was born in the Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi, during the 1930s. By the time I was old enough to start having good memories, the war years were upon us. And during those hard times, my father’s country store had limited deliveries of some items we take for granted today.

Food_2 Fabulous photographer Marie, at Blue Ridge blog, captures the essence of sweetness with a photo of her four-year-old niece and a Blue Moon ice cream cone: May your life be topped with colored sprinkles….

Food_2 Mark of Irish Elk fame, has the scoop on two meccas of soft-serve near his home, happy ice cream memories, as well as a memorial to a now-vanished Boston institution. His cone of choice?

The Brigham’s vanilla with jimmies remains, for me, the ne plus ultra of ice cream cones. And on any list of worthy Brigham’s take-home flavors: coffee, mocha almond and pistachio.

Such good taste.

Food_2 Na Hamsha history maven Janice, blogging at Cow Hampshire, explores the origin of an odd little term used by locals to denote a cup of ice cream, New Hampshire Slanguage: Hoodsie.

Almost one hundred years ago, H.P. Hood & Sons entered the ice cream business, building a “dairy bar” on Beacon Street in Boston. After World War I, ice cream became popular, with “Hood” being a leading brand in our area. Their “Hoodsie Cup,” was, and still is, a delicious 3-oz cup of ice cream. In the spring of 1998 the 50th anniversary of the “Hoodsie” was officially celebrated.

It is a term near and dear to our hearts– my husband’s father was a milkman for H.P. Hood & Sons, first in the Leicester/ Worcester area then on Cape Cod. Janice also includes a geneology of the company founder, Harvey Perley Hood.

Food_2 Now I’m going to have to try Brown’s. This is the beauty of blogging and sharing.

When you move to a new place from away, you notice things. Melissa, blogging at Musings of a Mainah, noticed when she moved to New England for the first time that New Englanders are crazy about ice cream. She visited Brown’s in York Beach today. It’s recommended by a very famous Ben, whose name is most often followed by “& Jerry’s.” Of course it’s Melissa’s recommendation that counts with me. In, Ode to the Joy of Scoop she says:

I do all I can to make sure New England remains first in ice cream consumption.

With qualifications like that, it’s no surprise our Mainah will host the next CARNIVAL OF ICE CREAM (on whatever day near the end of June she chooses.)

Food_2 Chris Howard at Theophrastus has just the right place for ice cream sandwiches… “These crunchy cookies sandwiching any flavor you want.”

He also doesn’t mind a little drive to make Memories.

Sprinkle Twinkle
from Songs for Ice Cream Trucks
by Michael Hearst

Summer is peachy

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A little peach in an orchard grew,—
A little peach of emerald hue;
Warmed by the sun and wet by the dew
It grew.
– Eugene Field

Memorial Day weekend is a preview of summer, a taste of things to come. On Saturday in sunshine, daughter Laura and I visited the Beach Plum, across from North Hampton Beach. I wrote about it last year too. Map.

Laura had a chocolate fudge brownie frappe.

I had a waffle cone with a heaping scoop of peach ice cream. Peach because it is such a summer fruit – though peaches won’t be in season here until early August. So I ate last year’s peaches, in ice cream, in anticipation of this summer. It was smooth and creamy. There were just the tiniest flecks of real peaches frozen into an almost popiscle-like texture – each one a tiny melt-in-the-mouth peach burst.

Summer! Summer! Summer! Sorry, I can’t contain my enthusiasm for the anti-winter.

Beach Plum sells Richardson’s hard ice cream and Hood soft serve. Lago’s makes their own as does Annabelle’s in Portsmouth, so I will give their peach ice cream a try when it’s in season.

Make your own Peach Ice Cream, or Peach and Brown Sugar Ice Cream.

In your eyes

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Blue flag, or Iris versicolor, is native to North America and grows wild around our pond. Today the first one bloomed.

Just after I shot this flower the dog, possessed of a springtime frenzy, ran it over. Then he rolled in the flowers that were about to bloom and when I yelled “hey!” he came over, shook the pond water off his fur onto me, then ran off like a mad dog to chew a stick into sawdust. He is normally so obedient that the exceptions to the rule are notable, and he knows it.

Iris the flower was named for Iris the goddess, by that Swedish Adam of science, Carl Linnaeus. Linnaeus was the father of modern taxonomy, the naming and categorizing of things. Iris was the Greek rainbow goddess, and the winged messenger between the immortals and humanity.

The other kind of iris is in your eyes, of course.

Iris is the provincial flower of Quebec.

In our hotel gift shop in Montreal, I used up some loonies on a couple of magazines for the bus ride home. Anna read Discover first, then came up the aisle from the back of the bus and said, “Mom, you have to read this one.” She opened it to “The Search for the Human Soul.”

Can science find evidence for a human soul, or will it always be a matter of faith?

Some theorists believe we should be looking at the quantum level. Consciousness may exist there. (Quantum brain.) One guy says all consciousness came into being at once during the Big Bang. It is shared out in whatever the technical term is for little quantum bits and never disappears, even after death.

At home I looked for the article online so I could link it, but I don’t think June is up yet. When I searched for “soul” I got this, speaking of iris:

Eyes may really be the window to the soul

Mats Larsson, a psychology graduate student at Örebro University in Sweden has linked iris patterns to personality traits.

That’s cool. Even though I always still thought eyes were the window to the soul (having refused to be blinded by science.) Laura and I read the article together. We kept pausing to stare deeply each other’s irises (or irides) until we started laughing uncontrollably.

Today I found out from my dad, who found out from my second-to-youngest sister Ursula who has been doing a bit of geneological research that, through our English-then-Colonial-American side of the family we are distant cousins with Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne and direct descendents of ChaucerGeoffrey Chaucer.

Does that explain why we all go into default mode for English major when we get to college?

My father says he’s not surprised. My grandmother, who doesn’t care that much about literature, says she is not surprised all the famous people are from her side of the family. My sister Ann, my uncle Dan and I can all recite the beginning of The Canterbury Tales in Middle English from memory. They can go farther than I can, and even had a Chaucer-Off one evening, reciting alternating lines.

Me, I feel our heritage is beyond blood. Everyone who reads and loves these men is their descendent; we inherit their words.

Chaucer is fresh and modern still, and no dust settles on his true passages. It lightens along the line, and we are reminded that flowers have bloomed, and birds sung, and hearts beaten in England. Before the earnest gaze of the reader, the rust and moss of time gradually drop off, and the original green life is revealed. He was a homely and domestic man, and did breathe quite as modern men do.

– Henry David Thoreau

There is writing talent in my family, and I’m just talking about the living ones. I just finished reading a manuscript my dad wrote based on the bedtime stories he told us as kids. Not many people are lucky enough to have a fairy tale written for them, and about them. And well written.

But there are also visual artists in the family. This afternoon, out by the pond, I gave the camera to Laura. She disappeared. She was so low to the ground, I couldn’t see her beyond the reeds. Later, I downloaded her photos and saw what she sees.

Here is a little photo album featuring some of her pics today, unedited: Laura’s Pond

Decoration day in Little River

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Herald Sunday, May 27

Honor
By Amy Kane

Eighty flags are starched by the breeze. Their colors are bright: each star is bold, each stripe distinct. For 23 years, in the week before Memorial Day, Joe Kutt has made sure a new American flag stands at the grave of every veteran buried in the Little River Cemetery in North Hampton.

Historians say the oldest headstones date from 1796 — they are tipped or half-sunken in the sod, stained with lichen and acid rain. Newer stones are smooth marble.

The two-acre cemetery next to an old white church is as quiet on Memorial Day as every other day, except for the birds and the cars on Atlantic Avenue rushing to claim parking spots at the beach.

It is easy to feel the world has forgotten this place.

“People just drive by, but it’s important, it’s important to me,” Kutt said. “Every time you see a flag in a cemetery, you know it was a guy who paid the ultimate price, or was willing to do that.

“I’ve lost friends. I’ve had so many friends and relatives in the armed forces. I just think it’s important we don’t forget them.”

Kutt is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He served in the Navy as a dispersing clerk and ship’s store clerk on a vessel that ran supplies from the Philippines and Okinawa up and down the coast of Vietnam. He was sometimes as close to a mile from battle. When battle stations were called, he helped with communications because he was a fast talker.

Anyone who knows Kutt now — as the longtime proprietor of Joe’s Meat Shoppe in North Hampton — has observed that he retains this talent. Kutt, 62, recently handed over the store and its responsibilities to his daughter, but he is still at work most days.

Kutt is a member of American Legion Post 35 in Hampton. Each year he volunteers to place flags at Little River Cemetery and at Center Cemetery in North Hampton. Old flags, faded and torn from winter weather, are burned in a ceremony at the American Legion on Flag Day, June 14.

The American Legion, made up of thousands of people like Kutt, takes responsibility for placing flags at the graves of veterans all across the country. Many sites, like Little River, have bronze markers noting the war in which the veteran served.

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day.

In 1868, Commander in Chief John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic designated May 30 as a day of remembrance

“for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

The first national celebration was the same year, at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Union and Confederate soldiers were buried. Around 1900, the name was changed to Memorial Day. In 1971, federal law made it the last Monday in May and extended it to honor all veterans who had died in war.

Soldiers who served in the Civil War are buried in Little River. So are veterans of the Revolutionary War, the war of 1812, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

In 1952, Philip Noyes Hobson Jr. was killed in action in Korea at age 20. He is buried not far from a flowering hydrangea tree. Crabapple, lilacs and dogwood are blossoming now.

Kutt takes time to read some of the stones, as do his helpers. This year he has brought his grandchildren Joey LeClaire, 9, and Sarah LeClaire, 7, both of Portsmouth, and Kutt’s North Hampton neighbor Jacob Penney, 11, who wears his Boy Scout uniform.

The kids are quick to roam the grounds and pull the old flags, unless the wooden dowels have swelled inside the bronze markers. Then Kutt uses pliers to wrench them loose.

“This is a very old graveyard; there are some real oldies in here,” he observes. “You can’t forget where it started, how many people gave their lives years ago for the freedom of America.”

Some sites stir memories. “Lt. Richard McFarland, U.S. Navy. I knew him. He was a good customer of mine,” said Kutt, kneeling to pull out the old flag.

“A lot of them were my customers, and friends. There are a lot of stories that haven’t been told, a lot of stories that went to the grave with them,” he mused.

Kutt likes to read military history and lately finished an account of a New Hampshire artillery regiment in World War II.

“They wrote diaries every day; it was amazing the heroism and the guts to hang in there. It’s amazing what the human body can endure. … That’s why they call them the Greatest Generation.”

When the flags have been replaced and the kids have hopped back in the truck, Kutt pauses for a moment to look across the cemetery, glowing golden in late afternoon sun.

“Another year, another reminder,” he said.

On water

Wentworthcoolidge_2

Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion viewed from Little Harbor

Ahoy, ’twas a day for boating with me matey yesterday.

Calm seas. A blanket of hot, hot air over the land reached out over the 53-degree ocean water for a mile or two. (We heard that the Isles of Shoals, 8 miles out, were 10 to 15 degrees cooler.) But zipping over the water we could stir up some cool currents of air. Or dip our feet over the sides when we stopped to cast a line idly.

We put the boat in at Rye Harbor at dead low around 1 p.m. Passing through the harbor entrance we watched two guys on the rocks pull up a couple of flounder.

“North or south?” said the captain.

“North,” said I.

He turned the bow and said, “We’d better drink those beers now before they get warm.” So we had a couple of boat beers, Heineken in a can, while motoring up to New Castle.

“Hear all the traffic?” Yep, Route 1A was getting that Memorial Day weekend rush. On the water we saw a few lobster boats, and four or five sailboats, and a several kayakers.

We slipped through Little Harbor to the Piscataqua River across from the shipyard, then followed the current out past two lighthouses to the sea again, Maine on our left and New Hampshire our right. Then back to the harbor, a two hour tour.

We saw fish on the finder, but they were down. Our surface plugs failed to lure them. In the harbor, Capt. Sue of the Uncle Oscar said a boat had come in recently with lots of cod. She was taking a couple out to Lunging Island with suitcases and supplies. We chatted with a dad and his two kids who had just fished a ledge beyond the Shoals and caught pollock.

We’ll hunt for stripers soon. But, for me anyway, fishing is just an excuse to go out on the boat, a pleasant and companionable pursuit under sun and over water. Ah, the smell of fresh bait and Coppertone.

Striped bass angling techniques New Hampshire
Stripers on the Piscataqua

Richard Ray retirement

Ray2

1977

Ray

2007

Final notes in a long, melodic career
Seniors organize retirement party for Richard Ray

By Amy Kane

A retirement party is in the works for a popular teacher who has shared his love of music with so many.

Richard Ray has been director of choral music at Winnacunnet High School since 1973. He has directed 29 school musicals and served as technical director for many other plays and events.

“He has done so much for everyone here for so many years, we wanted to celebrate that,” Shane Collins said.

Collins is organizing the party with WHS seniors Allix Rashid and Corinne DiZoglio.

Collins is a senior who worked with Ray this year as an assistant production manager in the Winnacunnet Community Auditorium. He will study theatrical lighting and design at SUNY-Purchase next year; he also works in the production office for Harvard University theaters.

“For four years, he’s been right by my side, helping me, teaching me,” Collins said.

Ray, who received his formal training in voice and choral music at the University of New Hampshire, has designed and taught a variety of music classes at Winnacunnet, as well as theater technology. He directs the Winnacunnet Chamber Singers, who have taken top prizes at music festivals in Florida, Montreal, New York and Pennsylvania.

Like many students, junior Anthony Grant said Ray has made a big difference in his life.

“If it wasn’t for him, I probably would have dropped out of school by now,” said Grant, who signed up for a chorus class his freshman year, and discovered his voice.

Grant said getting involved with Chamber Singers “saved me from myself.”

This year Grant was ranked as the No. 1 jazz tenor in the state and made the honor roll for the first time in his life.

“Music with Mr. Ray kept me on the straight and narrow,” Grant said. “Music is a natural high.”

Ray is in tune with his students, said Kristen LaBua, a 2006 Winnacunnet alumna and former Chamber Singer studying elementary education at UNH.

“He was a father figure, a buddy figure. He taught me so much,” LaBua said. “He was so approachable, and always willing to drop everything and help.”

LaBua now sings with the UNH Concert Choir. She said it’s easy and enjoyable because of Ray’s emphasis on music theory and sight reading. But that’s not all she learned from her favorite teacher.

“He taught me about responsibility — taking responsibility for your actions, for your education,” LaBua said. “He taught me to think not only of myself, but of the group.”

Ray is also a vocalist and guitarist in The Spectras, an enduring Seacoast-based rock band that has shared a stage with legends such as The Beach Boys, Ray Charles, The Doors and Led Zeppelin. He also performs with his church choir.

Ray lives in North Hampton with his wife, Candice. They have three children — Thom and Andy, who live in Portsmouth, and Allison, who lives in Washington, D.C.

Winnacunnet principal Randy Zito is a longtime friend of Ray. They met in 1976 when Zito arrived at Winnacunnet to teach English. They also worked together as Army Reservists. Both are veterans of the Vietnam War.

“Over the years we worked together, played together, and trained other soldiers together,” Zito said. “Dick and I have crawled around on the ground together in snake- and tick-infested Army training sites in far away places.

“This is what I know about Dick Ray. He makes our school a better place,” Zito said. “Dick has dedicated his entire public education career to Winnacunnet. Although he is retiring, I hope I can spend more great times with Dick. I personally will miss him.”

Zito said Ray has a great sense of humor and is an excellent musician.

“He and I like to golf, but he takes it too seriously sometimes, like when he threw his club and I had to duck,” Zito said.

A HIGH NOTE

WHAT: Dick Ray retirement party

WHEN: Thursday, June 7 at 6 p.m. Cash bar; buffet dinner 7 to 8:30, followed by performances

WHERE: Galley Hatch Conference Center, 815 Lafayette Road, Hampton

COST: Tickets $40; limited to 160. E-mail reservations to Shane Collins at drretirement@hotmail.com or call 394-5981 (e-mail preferred).

CURTAIN CALL

The 2007 Winnacunnet High School Spring Concert is Thursday, May 31 at 7 p.m. in the WHS Community Auditorium. Admission is free and the performance will be the last for Ray, who is retiring at the end of the school year.