GOT Wings?

If you’ve got fairy wings (or can pretend you do), put them on and fly to Portsmouth on Sept. 23 and 24. There you will find a whimsical world of fairy houses, built by children from acorns, rocks and other materials provided by Mother Nature. They’ll be tucked in among the plantings in gardens in the Port City’s historic South End, including Prescott Park, Strawbery Banke, the Governor John Langdon House and several nearby private gardens.

“To see the little creations in the gardens brings a smile to your heart,” says Tracy Kane, author of four books about fairy houses. “It’s a great way for families to share the wonder of nature. There’s an air of magic and the gardens are beautiful.”

Kane’s books were the inspiration for the one-of-a-kind walking tour. After reading them, Judy Nerbonne of Portsmouth built fairy houses with her grandchildren and became enchanted. With the help of 200 volunteers, she created the tour, now in its second year. Proceeds from the event will go to neighborhood non-profits.

At least one garden will be devoted to a non-competitive display of fairy houses built by local professional gardeners, landscapers, florists and nurseries. There will also be games, bubbles and music. Who knows, you might even see a fairy. For more information visit www.fairyhouses.com.

Four Things We Love

1 Perfect for fall hikes, just heavy enough — Eastern Mountain Sports’ (www.ems.com) core hooded fleece vest with asymmetrical zipper and kangaroo pocket, $55; waffle knit cotton shirt with thumb-hole wrist cuffs, $35.
2 The crisp air calls for a hot cup of tea — this a Chinese blend of organic black and green teas, from White Heron Tea in Portsmouth (www.whiteherontea.com). Tea tins of their organic certified teas and a large selection of fair trade-certified teas range in price from $7.50-$12 online and at Seacoast area stores.
3 Floors get cold along with the weather, so warm them up with hand-loomed, 100 percent cotton rugs in a variety of stripes and colors. Find them at The Willow, 183 Water St. in Exeter, (603) 773-9666.
4 What self-respecting dog or cat would wear a summery-looking collar when it’s fall? From Lupine Collars & Leads of Conway (lupinepet.com), $6-$25, depending on size. More than 30 collars to choose from

Get Real

Card companies advertise they have “cards for all occasions,” but they really don’t. Their cards mostly hit life’s high spots (“Congratulations”) and low spots (“In Sympathy”). For all the rest, there are blank cards suitable for penning your own note.

At least, that’s all there was until Jennifer Treacy and Dylan Saunders, both of Brookline, put their heads — and talents — together and created Lola Says fun greeting cards for women.

“There are so many situations in women’s lives for which you can’t find any cards,” Treacy says. “I wanted to create cards that cover the trials and tribulations that women face.” And so she did — 120 different real-life situations, in fact. The drawings are done by her niece, Dylan.

A sampling of cards takes you through life’s stages: “You paid off your student loans!”, “It’s your bridal shower!”, “I’ll miss you roomie!”, “I’m sorry he cheated on you!”, “Congratulations, you’re not pregnant!”, “Depression sucks!”, “Congrats, you quit smoking!”, “Girl, I love your new place!” and so on.

The black-and-white Lola Says cards are for sale online at www.lolasays.com.

Wily Coyotes

You’ve probably heard them on a quiet night. The long howl is unmistakable — and a little scary. Too many horror movies, maybe. But relax, coyotes pose little risk to humans, according to the state Fish and Game Department. There’s never been a report of a coyote attacking a person. You might want to watch your cats, though, especially at night. Coyotes find them easy prey.

New Hampshire didn’t always have coyotes. In the late 1800s, there were none. Then they started migrating from the Midwestern states through Canada and into the Northeast. Today coyotes can be found in all parts of the state.

For information about coyotes, visit www.wildlife.state.nh.us. Among the things you’ll learn is what coyotes are communicating with that long, scary howl — and that they are, indeed, wily.

What Relief!

Ever heard someone say they were “in the poorhouse” after a financial setback? In fact, in New Hampshire once, there were three poorhouses, also called county farms — in Manchester, Wilton and Grasmere. People who couldn’t support themselves were sent there to be cured of the bad habits that were causing their poverty.

That was better than being auctioned off to the lowest bidder, as some people were (a case in Sandown in 1832 is authenticated). In return for feeding, clothing and housing the poor person, the winner got the auctionee’s free labor.

The other option was “outdoor relief” for people outside the poorhouse. It would completely replace the poorhouses when Social Security and other programs were put in place. For more information about N.H’s poorhouses, visit www.poorhousestory.com/history.htm.

Somber Celebrations

When Dan Perkins thought about how to mark the fifth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks in a special way, his thoughts turned to music — he envisioned a very large chorus and orchestra performing Mozart’s “Requiem.” He’s music director of two choral groups — the N.H. Master Chorale and Manchester Chorale Society — but he decided to add to their voices by inviting choruses from around the state.

The singers will take part in the September 11th Anniversary concert on Saturday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. at the Silver Center for the Arts at Plymouth State University. Featured soloists are Janet Poisson, soprano; Amanda McLaughlin, mezzo-soprano, Concord Chorale director Ryan Turner, tenor; and Charles Stanton, baritone.

“It’s important to bring people together for an event like this,” says Perkins. “The camaraderie of musicians throughout our state is something that makes us truly unique as an arts community, and the September 11th anniversary seemed like a perfect opportunity for us to combine our talents.” For tickets and information call (603) 535-ARTS.

Also marking 9-11 is the Goffstown Public Library. To help the community remember the events of that tragic day and the 3,000 people who lost their lives, the library is sponsoring “Wishes for Our World,” where 3,000 stars inscribed with people’s wishes for our world will be displayed on walls, windows and elsewhere throughout the community. The project begins September 1.

A brief vigil will be held on the Goffstown common September 11 at 8:45 a.m. to mark the anniversary. For more information on The September Project visit www.theseptemberproject.org.

Guilty Pleasure

Fried dough — that sumptuous staple of summer days at the beach and fall days at the fair — is tough to resist. Fresh out of the deep fat fryer, you dust it with confectioner’s sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Yum. Later you’ll worry about the calories (721 for a 6 oz. piece, according to calorieking.com), fats (39.3 g) and sugars (78.6 g). Fried dough’s not all bad — it contains 205.1 mg of potassium and 6.6 g of protein.
You don’t have to wait for a fair to get your fix of fried dough. Make it yourself.

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package yeast
1 cup scalded milk
1 cup boiling water
6 cups flour

Mix butter, sugar and salt in large bowl. Pour in scalded milk and water. Cool to lukewarm. Add yeast and stir. Add 3 cups flour and mix well. Add other 2 cups of flour and mix. Use last cup to knead. Let rise until double. Cut down with knife, knead again and let rise. Drop in grease. Cook until golden brown on both sides. Recipe from cooks.com.

State Stats

Global warming could have a significant impact on New Hampshire forests, according to the N.H. Dept. of Environmental Services Web site (www.des.state.nh.us/ard/climate change/). The optimal conditions for the growth of our hardwoods could move 100-300 miles farther north by the end of the next century — not a good thing with forest products the state’s fourth largest employer and third largest source of revenue. More bad news, our brilliant fall foliage could fade as trees are stressed by weather changes. The sugar maple would be particularly vulnerable. One bright spot — the number of white pine and red oak, two very profitable timber species in New Hampshire, could increase.


It’s been called “the cultural event of the year” and few would argue. The N.H. Humanities Council each fall hosts a dinner gathering in Manchester that features a speaker of national, perhaps international, renown. Past speakers include Bishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, Dan Brown, Tom Brokaw and Doris Kearns Goodwin. This year it’s E.J. Dionne, the award-winning Washington Post columnist and senior fellow with the Brookings Institution. Dionne is a frequent commentator on politics for NPR, CNN and NBC’s “Meet the Press” and author of three books — one has been described as “a classic in American political history.” The NHHC dinner raises funds to support the council’s ability to bring hundreds of free public humanities programs to the people of N.H. To get tickets (they sell out quickly) visit www.nhhc.org.

Games People Play

For years Mary O’Brien played bridge — ever since college, that once-prolific spawning ground of bridge players. But these days, the Wolfeboro resident says it’s hard to find a game. People are playing Mah Jong instead.

According to the American Contract Bridge League, there’s been a huge decrease in the number of people who play bridge, way down from the 44 percent of households that had at least one active bridge player back in the 1940s.

One game that’s helping to relegate bridge to the dust bin is a 2,000-year-old Chinese game, Mah Jong — an unlikely competitor in this Internet age.

Nevertheless that’s what O’Brien is playing with her friends. “It’s similar to Gin Rummy,” she says. You use tiles instead of cards, looking for three of a kind (pong), four of a kind (kong) or a series (chow). Instead of the four suits of cards, the tiles have the bamboo suit, the circle suit (also called dots) and the character suit (also called cracks).You start by building a “Great Wall” of tiles and end saying “Mah Jong” when you get rid of all your tiles.

Mah Jong was a hot game back in the 1920s, when it was brought here from China. It appears to be staging yet another comeback. Though O’Brien would still like to find a bridge game, Mah Jong, she says, “is great fun.”