Spirit

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Predicament

A question for the wicked this Halloween.

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In the spirit

Decorating the family plot for Halloween, in a cemetery along Route 1 in Seabrook. (You should see it at Christmastime!)

On one side of this cemetery is the church (its sign is pictured above) and a dance school for children. The other, a small commercial center with Totally Nude Ladies, Leather & Lace Adult Video, tattoos, comic books and fireworks.

I was disappointed that there were no ghost decorations in the cemetery this year, as in past years. In fact, the place is becoming more tastefully somber and less eye-catchingly original. The Felch family plot was the most colorful this year.

A great game from my childhood: Ghost in the Graveyard

Or when the lawn
Is pressed by unseen feet, and ghosts return
Gently at twilight, gently go at dawn,
The sad intangible who grieve and yearn….

– T.S. Eliot

Post theme song: Sing You Sinners, by Erin McKeown

Erin McKeown - Sing You Sinners (Bonus Tracks) - Sing You Sinners

The Jacks are back

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Pumpkin-headed scarecrows with welded bodies and some nice haberdashery, on Route 1 in North Hampton, in the field next to Regal Limousine.

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I blogged them last year too.

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They are made by Regal veep Paul Ford. In the warm weather last week, some of the jack-o-lantern heads rotted and fell off too soon.

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There are 15 scarecrows this year. Everybody loves them.

Stoke that blood sugar. TRICK OR TREAT is tonight in North Hampton, from 4 to 7 p.m.

Also tonight: Hampton Falls, Seabrook, Rye, Greenland, Portsmouth and, in Maine, York, Kittery, South Berwick and Eliot.

Didn’t get enough candy? Go to Hampton or Newington tomorrow night (also known as Real Halloween).

Portsmouth Halloween Parade at 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Steal this idea.

Do you live in a semi-rural town where houses are far apart, streetlights few and sidewalks non-existent?

Then you have my blessings and best wishes to steal my idea (it’s only an idea; I’ve never done it) and rent a relatively cheap, unique local form of transportation, load up the friends and family, and go a-candy harvesting by TRICK OR TREAT TROLLEY.

Trolley rental

Post soundtrack: Frankenstein, by Edgar Winter

Edgar Winter - They Only Come Out At Night - Frankenstein

Love potion No. 9

Monday

Monday

I snapped this left-outside art near the railroad tracks and Earth Sciences building at UNH yesterday afternoon. It was family weekend and we had brunch and a nice walk around campus with our coed.

Anna seems happy and oddly well-adjusted. And then I get home and find the bill from iTunes. For what derelict late-night purposes did she purchase 13 mambo songs plus the Monster Mash?!

We are the champions of the world, here in Red Sox Nation. The Sox in four! Patriots won too. It is just too good to be living here in bright crisp October, despite our serious sleep deficit and beer-swollen livers.

Laura was Humpty Dumpty all day yesterday on the Storybook Trail at Applecrest Orchards. It so happens to be the same character her big sister played three or four years ago. What is it about Kane girls that makes them so perfect for egg suits and pratfalls?

“How many times did you have to fall off the wall today?” I asked at pick up.

“About 40,” she said. “But sometimes I was doing it just for fun.”

The little kids on the hay wagon couldn’t see that there was a nice puffy old mattress just behind the fairy tale wall. The king’s (wo)man, Cassie, took lots of photos. Between wagons they had apple wars with the Peter Pan skit just down the lane.

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Straining and bottling the raspberry liqueur

The cool thing was that after three months the vodka had sucked the juice and color right out of the raspberries so, when I poured it off last night, the lumpy berries that were still whole were pale and flesh colored.

“Omigod, what is in that?!” asked Laura.

“Well, this year I added chipmunk brains for extra protein.”

The blueberries in one bottle and raspberries in another had been soaking for three months. I made a sugar syrup, two parts sugar to one part water, boiled then simmered until they become one. Then I added it to the juicy, strained-through-paper-towels vodka to taste. So I had to do a lot of tasting to get it just right.

They will age for another month, in their pretty bottles, but so far I’d say blueberry, picked from our own bushes last summer, remains my most successful liqueur. Everything about the wild flavor is preserved and enhanced and set afire.

Raspberry is new this year and tasted a little like cough syrup to me. Maybe it will age well.

I made a spirited seasonal iMix on iTunes. If you click the link below (and you have iTunes) you can see it and hear clips. (If my link experiment works.) If you buy any of the songs, I get a tiny commission. (Of course, it’s really meant to be listened to all together. The transitions between songs are nice.)

The mix is a little goofy and grimly romantic. Like me!

Halloween: Sweet cold black nighticon

Mom-trepreneurs

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Kathy Megna, left, and Kim Bougie are a team in their small business Errands By Design, based in North Hampton.

In today’s Hampton Union…

‘Designs’ on helping
N. Hampton pair will run your errands

By Amy Kane

Kathy Megna and Kim Bougie will shop for your groceries, walk your dog, plant your garden, give you a lift to the airport and take care of a hundred other tasks and chores. Consider them an extra pair of hands, times two.

The simple premise behind their home-based business Errands By Design is that people want things done but don’t have enough time to do them. For a reasonable fee, Kim and Kathy help busy professionals, new moms, the elderly and the temporarily overwhelmed — on either a one-time basis or a regular schedule.

“We’re working to make life run a little more smoothly,” Kim said.

There’s not much they won’t do for a client, including household errands, transporting children, store returns, party set up, taking care of a house while owners are on vacation, plant care, light housekeeping, and event planning.

They will even sit around and wait for the repairman or an appliance delivery.

“And we’ll do your laundry while we wait,” Kathy said.

“We’ll gift shop for those who dread it,” Kim said. “Give us a list, we’ll go get it, wrap it and deliver it.”

The two are a whirlwind of energy, efficiency and competence.

“We’re positive, upbeat and willing to try new things,” Kim said. “We work well together.”

“We’re responsible and hard working,” Kathy said. “We can organize anything.”

Errands By Design grew out of a nine-year friendship, a walk on the beach and life credits that add up to a couple of advanced degrees in household management. Between the two of them, they have seven children. They are married to busy professional guys. Kathy’s kids are age 21, 18, 14 and 11. Kim’s are 17, 14 and 11.

“We have the ultimate experience,” Kim said.

The two met each other when they lived in the same North Hampton neighborhood. Several moves, new houses and renovations later, they live on opposite sides of town but they and their kids are still friends.

Walking their dogs on the beach one day last winter, Kim and Kathy brainstormed work they could do together to earn a few extra bucks for Christmas, college and their own spending money, now that their kids were getting a little older. In spring they began with gardening and landscaping, calling their budding business “Gracious Gardeners.” Local advertising and word of mouth recommendations kept them busy all summer.

In the fall, they decided to expand into the personal concierge business with Errands By Design. They are building a client base and have garnered some great references.

Errands By Design services are priced competitively at $25 per hour, per person. They work together or separately depending on the job.

One North Hampton working mom with school-aged children and a baby rated their service as cost and stress saving for grocery shopping. They saved the woman a much longer trip with the baby in tow and the inevitable impulse purchases.

Kim and Kathy helped set up a wedding on a lawn in Rye recently. One gardening client made a gift of several hours worth of their errand service to a friend coping with cancer.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve done,” Kathy said. “It was a leap of faith. There’s a niche out there. We’re able-bodied and people need help.”

Their families’ reactions have been amazingly positive. They’ve even gotten a little extra help around the house.

“I’m especially proud I’m doing it in front of my girls. They’re 18 and 14 and they get to see mom as an independent, professional woman,” Kathy said. “At the same time, I’ve found something I can do without totally disrupting the household my family has come to appreciate.”

Matt, Kim’s son, may have summed it up best when he said of his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit: “You go, mom.”

By Design

For information or to engage the services of Errands By Design, contact Kathy Megna at 475-4006 or e-mail megna6@comcast.net.

Longer day for North Hampton kindergartners?

In today’s Hampton Union…

Benefits of full-day kindergarten debated
Study: 78 percent for extended program

By Amy Kane

NORTH HAMPTON – Kindergartners at North Hampton School will have a longer day next year if the school board votes to accept the recommendations of the Kindergarten Study Committee.

At their monthly meeting Thursday the school board heard a report from committee co-chairs Amy Choate and Rachel Robie recommending an extended day for all kindergartners from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. with the option of a full day until 2:45 p.m.

Currently, two sessions of kindergartners attend one full day and three 2-and-a-half hours days ending at 11 a.m., with one day off each week, allowing two classes to share one classroom.

If the extended day passes, at least one more teacher and classroom will be needed.

A longer day would provide consistency, larger blocks of time for learning and a more comfortable pace for kids and families, according to the report from the 11-member committee of parents and teachers.

“It would limit the number of transitions and make it more relaxed,” said Robie, who is a stay-at-home parent and former kindergarten teacher.

Research supports a longer day, said Robie. Full day kindergartners’ achievement was higher, though half day students caught up by the end of first grade.

A survey commissioned by the committee and administered by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center to North Hampton parents of children ages 5 and under who planned to send their children to North Hampton School showed that 78 percent of respondents preferred a longer school day and 9 percent favored the current schedule.

Seventy five parents of 145 responded. Those who favored a longer day were evenly split on extended day (1 p.m.) vs. full day (2:45 p.m.), with working parents who needed daycare favoring full day.

“The common thread was that people wanted more time than we have now,” said Robie.

Choate said the committee knew some people would look at offering a choice of a longer day as “just babysitting,” but giving families flexibility and meeting the individual needs of students was “the best choice,” she said.

Committee members envision parents making a commitment at the beginning of the school year to send their children until 1 p.m. or 2:45. Children who remain until 2:45 will be with their kindergarten teachers to ensure academic, social and behavioral continuity. Students leaving at 1 p.m. would not miss critical learning time, said Robie.

“Enriching, open-ended centers,” was one idea for the optional time, said kindergarten teacher Ellen Pongrace. “It’s not solidified. But we want this to be a comfortable choice for parents either way.”

Principal Peter Sweet said, “We felt as a committee that kids need a chance to apply their learning. This can happen in a family structure or at school.”

First Student informed the committee there would not be an additional charge for bus pick up at 1 p.m. Cost to the district of an additional kindergarten teacher would be roughly $70,000 in salary and benefits.

A room currently used as an office can be converted to a classroom, but if numbers of students rise above the current estimate of 40, the school may need to rent a portable classroom. The board has a policy of limiting kindergarten class size to 20.

Questions from board members focused on cost, logistics and meeting student learning needs. Audience comments were generally supportive of a longer kindergarten day.

North Hampton resident Deb Sillay said the kindergarten program was not enough for her son, now a third grader, so at her expense she sent him to a private program with a longer day.

“It was difficult for him to come into this school as a first grader,” she said. “He came in at a different level.”

Superintendent James Gaylord applauded the committee’s efforts, saying he was proud that two schools in SAU 21 (Hampton is the other) are considering extending the kindergarten day in a state that does not even mandate kindergarten.

“I hope the board votes it and the public supports it,” he said.

North Hampton School Board chairperson Mary Pat Dolan said the board would consider the recommendation after a preliminary look at the budget for the upcoming year.

The meeting was taped and will be broadcast on North Hampton cable access Channel 22.

Long jump at NHS

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Volunteers built a long jump pit at North Hampton School on Saturday. From left, Joe Hamel, Scott Briggs Kyla Briggs, John and Sue Hamel, and Megan Murphy. Joe and Kyla took on the project for senior seminar class at Winnacunnet High School.

In today’s Hampton Union…

Athletes give back with long jump

By Amy Kane

On your mark, get set… dig!

A long jump pit for track and field events was installed Saturday at North Hampton School thanks to the efforts of two Winnacunnet seniors and the generosity of several local businesses.

Kyla Briggs, of North Hampton, and Joe Hamel, of Hampton, are high school track and field athletes who chose the long jump project as the focus of their senior seminar.

The two worked with several family members and a friend from early morning to mid-afternoon Saturday digging through rocky soil and installing the long jump pit.

The pit is located beyond the North Hampton School athletic fields, near the beginning of the nature trail into the school woods. It is 10 feet wide, 20 feet long, a foot-and-a-half deep, and will be covered when not in use.

Briggs and Hamel wanted North Hampton middle school athletes to have access to an event missing from their track and field line up.

“There are kids from North Hampton who are gifted athletes but didn’t have the things they needed,” said Joe, who competed as a middle schooler in Hampton and was able to learn long jump there.

“We can have North Hampton athletes start here, then they’ll be stronger when they get to Winnacunnet,” said Kyla, who was a track and field athlete at North Hampton School before competing in high school.

Kyla and Joe discussed their long jump idea first with North Hampton track and field coach Dana Hanson-Babyak, then athletic director Art Hoffman.

“Ms. H-B was ecstatic,” said Kyla. “And Mr. Hoffman gave us so much time and help.”

Joe credits his middle school track and field coach Richard “Ozzie” Osborne with help in planning the dimensions and installation. Senior seminar mentors Joan Bauer and Ed Beattie, both Winnacunnet teachers, were also a big help, said Joe.

Second Nature Landscaping in North Hampton donated 8 yards of sand and 4 yards of crushed stone. Sunbelt Rentals, also of North Hampton donated the use of a Bobcat. Parents brought tools and Kyla’s dad Scott donated tools and wood from his company Green Bridge Development.

Both Joe and Kyla hope to continue competing in track and field in college. Kyla wants to throw javelin as a club sport at her first choice school, Fairfield University in Connecticut. Joe said if he can jump a few more feet this year he will join a college track and field team as a walk on next year. He hopes to attend Northeastern University in Boston.

Haunted Hotel

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What’s your poison?

Jack the Rotten Pumpkin Headed Waiter invites you to attend the annual Haunted Hotel at Lamie’s Inn/ Old Salt Tavern in Hampton.

Tonight and tomorrow from 5 to 9 p.m. Just $5.

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Even a bullet to the forehead does not deter the undead from their appointed hauntings.

Brought to you by the local high school drama club. This year’s theme: Boarding School.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.