IPA is still king

There is no getting around it

We can talk about stouts and sours and Belgian-style brews and Pilsners and barrel-aging and so on and so forth, but at the end of the day the IPA is still driving the bus. So, let’s get right into it.

I’ve been fortunate to have a series of excellent IPAs recently — not all at once, mind you — and even as I find myself overwhelmed or even burnt out with the style at times, I can’t help myself from going back time and time again.

Simply put, IPAs remain delicious and brewers seem to continually find ways to create exciting brews that delight the palate.

Here are three IPAs I’ve recently enjoyed and one I look forward to enjoying.

Angelica Hazy Orange IPA by Lord Hobo Brewing Co. (Woburn, Massachusetts)

I love the citrusy, sweet burst of a New England-style IPA that gives it that “juicy” characteristic. The combination of hops can provide an array of tropical flavors like papaya, mango, pineapple, grapefruit and orange. So all of that said, I was intrigued but also scared of this beer. Like I said, I like the citrusy burst but I get scared when a beer is labeled with the name of a fruit. It just screams “too sweet” to me. I need not have been afraid. On a blistering hot and humid day, this beer was refreshing, drinkable and extremely tasty. There is big orange flavor but I never got the over-the-top sweetness I feared. Lord Hobo also produces a non-orange version that is also delicious.

Trading Tales Dry Hopped Lager by Collective Arts Brewing Co. (Waunakee, Wisconsin) in collaboration with Dancing Gnome Brewery (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

I know, I know this is technically a lager but take a sip and you’ll slot this into the IPA category too. This brew hits you in the face with hops, specifically strata and citra hops but it comes in at an eminently drinkable 5.1-percent ABV. This was an absolute pleasure to drink, and, as with all Collective Arts brews, the can artwork, is, well, interesting.

Rise Double IPA by Breakaway Beerworks (Manchester)

I recently stumbled upon this brewery and grabbed this beer thinking I was grabbing something from an entirely different brewery. Now that it’s clear that I might not be all that detail-oriented these days, I’m glad I did mistakenly choose this brewery, which actually brews its beers at Great North Aleworks in Manchester. Rise is an aggressive brew that is, I think, best described as “amped up.” The hops are amped up, the flavor is amped up, the bitterness is amped up and the alcohol is amped up. But these are all good things. I’m just giving you a heads up. It’s a bold IPA that brings huge citrus and pine flavor. This is a terrific double IPA and I look forward to trying more brews from this brewery.

Playlist 07:01 IPA by Throwback Brewery (North Hampton)

Many breweries are offering ever-evolving versions of their IPAs, keeping the recipe the same but switching up the hop combination or some other aspect of the brew to create a new and interesting concoction with each batch. Throwback’s Playlist beer series features the same “base IPA recipe,” of oats and malts, but they switch up the yeast or the hops with each batch. This iteration, made with dragon, wolf, fox and citra hops and kveik yeast, features flavors of citrus, strawberry and light honey, along with light herbal tea and pine notes, according to the brewery. I’ll be tracking this one down.

What’s in My Fridge
Rise A.P.A. by Whalers Brewing Co. (Wakefield, Rhode Island) I love the can design here featuring a big ol’ whale, of all things, on the front. Their flagship brew, this is a pretty easy-drinking, dry-hopped American Pale Ale that paired quite well with watching my kids run through sprinklers on a hot day. Cheers!

Find your farmers markets

A look at the socially distant summer market scene

You can still get your leafy greens, grass-fed meats and fresh poultry at local farmers markets this summer, but there’s no denying that the fresh-air market vibe won’t be the same, with regulations in place to promote social distancing and the cancellation of vendor demonstrations, tastings and live music.

“It has really been a shift from hanging out and socializing at the market … to just coming in and purchasing or picking up the product,” said Julie Dewdney, market manager of the Canterbury Community Farmers Market, which began on June 3.

Farmers markets have been considered essential businesses from the beginning, according to Gail McWilliam Jellie, director of agricultural development for the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food. The department has encouraged markets to stay open, both to maintain cash flow for the vendors and to provide food sources for customers. Despite that, many summer markets started late and some have canceled altogether.

Early season markets

One of the only markets in the Granite State that has remained uninterrupted during the pandemic is in Salem. The year-round market, which normally operates indoors from November through about April or May, moved outside several weeks earlier than planned, on March 15, despite temperatures barely above freezing.

“I think on that first day [we went outside] it was 37 degrees out,” board president Bonnie Wright said, “but people wanted to come and vendors wanted to come, so we kept the market going. … We’ve had to adapt a great deal and make a lot of changes as the virus situation has evolved.”

After being in the parking lot of the Mary A. Fisk Elementary School for a few weeks, the Salem Farmers Market moved back to its normal summer location at Salem Marketplace a few miles away on April 5. Since then the market has been operating at limited hours each week, on Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon only — it’s normally from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to Wright.

Moving the market outdoors in a paved parking lot, Wright said, has allowed its board members to further space out each vendor and control the flow of customers. Only 100 people are allowed into the market at a time to prevent long lines from forming. Table fees are, for the time being, waived for all vendors in an effort to help supplement the income some have lost.

“It definitely doesn’t have that farmers market feel that people are used to,” Wright said, “but we are seeing quite a bit of people … and occasionally people have to wait to get in.”

In Concord, after the cancellation of its winter market in Eagle Square on March 17 with more than a month left to go, growing uncertainty loomed over whether the city’s summer market on Capitol Street could go on. The market did miss its targeted opening date of May 2 by one week, resuming operations on May 9 with just a fraction of its vendors, but president Wayne Hall said it has exceeded his expectations since then.

“It’s been tremendous,” said Hall, who owns Rockey Ole Farm in Concord. “It’s been very, very steady, and people have been very respectful of the things we’ve been putting in place. … We are also constantly adding more new vendors as we go along.”

Hall said there is still an abundance of leafy greens available at the market, such as lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard. Next up for produce will be strawberries, coming from Apple Hill Farm, followed by blueberries later in July. Summer squash, tomatoes and cucumbers are all expected to be available soon too.

A second summer market has also debuted in Concord this year. For the first time, Cole Gardens is hosting an outdoor market in its parking lot following the conclusion of its indoor winter market in April, market manager Jane Iarussi said.

The Contoocook Farmers Market, according to manager Karin Cohen, began its summer season a couple of weeks earlier than planned, on May 23. Another year-round market, Contoocook had suspended operations indoors at Maple Street Elementary School on March 14.

“We were slated to reopen outdoors on June 6, but there were a lot of community requests for us to open [earlier], and a lot of our farmers also felt like they were ready to go,” Cohen said.

Now back at its normal summer location next to the Contoocook Railroad Museum, the market is encouraging just one member per household to visit if possible, and to leave all children and pets home. Reusable and single-use plastic bags are allowed, as long as you don’t place them on any table surfaces. Product sampling, vendor demonstrations, live music and arts and crafts vendors have all been temporarily suspended until further notice.

“We’re really trying to encourage people not to linger, just because we are such a small market,” Cohen said. “Unfortunately, it’s not the social market that we’re used to, but I think everyone so far has been happy to still be able to come out and support our local farmers.”

Jim Ramanek of Warner River Produce in Webster is a featured vendor at the Contoocook, Cole Gardens and Canterbury markets — he’ll also be joining the Franklin market on Tuesdays when it gets underway on June 23, and has started an online ordering system via harvesttomarket.com.

“We still have a few winter vegetables and we’re doing lots of mixed lettuce, radishes and baby turnips,” Ramanek said. “Spinach is on the decline because it’s just been too hot for it.”

Work Song Farm in Hopkinton, another vendor at this year’s Contoocook market, has certified organic strawberries available first-come, first-serve. According to co-owner Dan Kilrain, the farm will have them for at least the next two to three weeks.

June and beyond

The month of June has brought with it several more summer markets in the state kicking off their seasons under new guidelines. The Canterbury Community Farmers Market was able to begin on schedule, Dewdney said, after its association spent several weeks discussing what the safest practices would be for vendors and customers.

“It was really important to us that we opened up that access to good products,” she said, “so we came up with a whole set of guidelines, with help from the UNH Cooperative Extension and the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets.”

In addition to encouraging masks, all handling of products is done by the vendors until after purchases are made. The Canterbury market has also eliminated all special activities it would normally have throughout the season, and is encouraging people to limit attendance to one visitor per household.

“Our first week was really successful,” Dewdney said of the June 3 market. “We didn’t have to control the crowd level. We had one entry point and we kind of just had a steady stream.”

The Canterbury market averages about 20 vendors — and even though Dewdney said a few vendors have dropped out, the Association has been receiving interest from newcomers.

One of the returning vendors, Kathy Doherty of Sanborn Meadow Farm in Canterbury, said the market’s opening day went well and that many customers even thanked her for being there. Doherty focuses primarily on herbs and leafy greens.

“Early in the season, it’s a lot of radishes, arugula and mixed Asian greens. That’s what I brought the first week, and I’ll diversify a bit with lettuce, broccoli, rhubarb and some varieties of kale,” Doherty said. “The spring was very cold and it seemed to delay everything … but they’re starting to catch up now. I think tomatoes will be coming a bit later than usual.”

The New Boston Farmers Market, which opened for the season on June 6, has roped off access from outside the town common, only allowing one-way entrances and exits for customers. Market co-manager Allison Vermette said the response to the changes has been positive so far.

“Most of the people who have shown up have been very thankful that we’ve been open. I think there’s been a very big push to have more local products available during this whole pandemic,” Vermette said. “It’s normally a very community-based market, so this year we do look a lot different. … We usually have different community guests come in, but that’s unfortunately been cut out for the foreseeable future. We’re also not doing our children’s market this year.”

In Milford the pandemic caused the cancellation of the town’s final two indoor winter market dates on March 14 and March 28. But on June 13 the market was able to start its summer season under new guidelines at 300 Elm St. across from the New Hampshire Antique Co-op.

“I’ve done a lot of research on how to open safely,” market manager Adrienne Colsia said. “Last year I used probably only half the parking lot, but now we’re using the whole perimeter of the lot to space everybody out. … We have one entrance, and we’re encouraging people to just grab and go and not hang around if they can. Customers are allowed to bring reusable bags.”

Colsia, who also co-owns Paradise Farm in Lyndeborough with her husband Wayne, said they will have strawberries available at the market. Other items you can expect at the market include meats like grass-fed beef, pork and lamb, poultry, fresh fish, cheeses, and leafy greens like kale, arugula and Swiss chard.

The Bedford Farmers Market, scheduled to begin on June 16, is in a new spot this year — the parking lot of the Harvest Market on Route 101 in Bedford, which closed its doors about a month ago, according to market manager Lauren Ritz. The market had previously been in the parking lot of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church on Meetinghouse Road.

“The Diocese of Manchester … wasn’t comfortable with having us in the parking lot with the state that New Hampshire was at, at the time the decision was made,” said Ritz, who also co-owns Hoof and Feather Farm in Amherst, one of this year’s vendors. “So we actually reached out on the Bedford’s town Facebook page, and the Harvest Market offered us their parking lot.”

The market will feature 30 vendors throughout the season, some of which will rotate depending on the product availability of each. Hoof and Feather Farm is the meat vendor, featuring chicken, beef and pork, while other vendors are selling various fruits and vegetables, cheeses, honey, maple syrup and personal care products.

Newcomers include Jennifer Lee’s Bakery out of Worcester, Mass., which makes gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods; and the Bedford Sewing Battalion, which will have a table handing out free masks and accepting fabric and elastic donations. Like many of the state’s other markets, Ritz said Bedford had to cancel all planned live entertainment and demonstrations.

Merrimack’s farmers market is also expected to begin this week. According to market manager and town agricultural commission chair Bob McCabe, the Merrimack Town Council on June 11 approved the market to begin on June 17, one week after its proposed start date. That market is expected to continue through mid-October, in the parking lot of Vault Motor Storage on Daniel Webster Highway.

More markets to come

A few more summer markets in the state are expected to get going as the month winds down.

In Nashua, for example, the market will resume on June 21, continuing every Sunday through the middle of October. Due to several lane closures on either side of Main Street to accommodate outdoor dining space for restaurants, this year’s market has moved from its normal spot between Temple and Pearl streets down to the area in front of City Hall Plaza.

“We’ll be around City Hall on the Main Street side, as well as in the shaded area of the Nashua Heritage Rail Trail and [in] the surface parking lot to the rear of the building,” Great American Downtown executive director Paul Shea said. “It’s a larger area than where we normally operate … so customers will have a lot of space to move through the market while distancing.”

The Franklin Farmers Market is expected to begin on June 23 at Marceau Park on Central Street, while in Wilmot the farmers market will start on June 27 on the town green.

While the Intown Farmers Market in Manchester will not be taking place in the traditional sense, plans are in the works for a limited version of the market to return. Starting on June 25 farmers with Fresh Start Farms, a program of the Manchester-based Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, will be at Victory Park every Thursday through August.

“It’s going to be more like a farm stand,” Intown Manchester executive director Sara Beaudry said. “We were already in the process of restructuring our farmers market … to move from Stanton Plaza back to Victory Park, but then with everything going on we teamed up with ORIS to bring the market back and to simplify it.”

Jameson Small, program manager for the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project at ORIS, said members of Fresh Start Farms are also at the Bedford, Concord, Merrimack, Milford and Salem markets. In addition to leafy greens they’ll have tomatoes, cucumbers and squash later in the summer, as well as ethnic crops, like amaranth greens and African eggplant.

Market cancellations

The pandemic has caused a few markets in New Hampshire to pull the plug on their summer seasons entirely. One of the most notable to shut down for the year is the Derry Homegrown Farm & Artisan Market, which would have begun earlier this month in downtown Derry.

The market’s board had initially announced that the season would at least be delayed before the decision was made to cancel it altogether on June 2, one day before its original opening date.

“It was a really, really difficult decision that we did not want to have to do,” market manager and board vice president Neil Wetherbee said of its cancellation.

Wetherbee said it came down to the market’s location and its board ensuring the safety of all vendors and customers. Unlike most of the other markets, which are on paved surfaces, Derry’s is on grass, eliminating the ability to make six-foot markers with chalk. He also said its unique location in the center of town, along with its proximity to the rail trail, made it difficult to mandate specific entry and exit points for visitors. Other potential locations in town were considered but its board ultimately could not find one suitable.

In addition to all of those factors, Wetherbee said if the market were to take place it would have featured less than half of its regular vendors.

“We spent the last three years trying to turn this into a community event … and it really would’ve been a shell of what it has been,” he said. “A big part of discussion also was that we didn’t want to live with the responsibility if one of our vendors, especially one of our older vendors, was to get sick, or if we started to see a spike in virus cases in Derry.”

The Lee Farmers Market, which would have started on the last Thursday in May, has also canceled its season, instead “existing virtually,” according to manager Tina Sawtelle.

“We’ve sort of pivoted to becoming an online source to help local farms connect to customers, and to point people in the right direction for where to get product,” said Sawtelle, who originally started the market with her husband through the Lee Agricultural Commission. “It’s actually helped our vendors increase their CSA shares too.”

Find a market everyday
Here’s a list of summer farmers markets happening in southern New Hampshire.

Sundays
• Cole Gardens Farmers Market is from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cole Gardens (430 Loudon Road, Concord), now through October. Visit colegardens.com.
• Dover Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Henry Law Park (1 Washington St., Dover), now through Oct. 11. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Nashua Farmers Market will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at City Hall Plaza (229 Main St.), June 21 through Oct. 18. Visit downtownnashua.org/local.
• Salem Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to noon at Salem Marketplace (224 N. Broadway). Visit salemnhfarmersmarket.org.

Mondays
• Durham Farmers Market is from 2:15 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Sammy’s Market (5 Madbury Road), now through October. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Fresh Chicks Local Outdoor Market is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Monadnock Community Hospital (452 Old Street Road, Peterborough), now through October. Email freshchicksmarket@gmail.com.

Tuesdays
• Bedford Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the former Harvest Market (209 Route 101), now through Sept. 29. Visit bedfordfarmersmarketnh.org.
• Franklin Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at Marceau Park (Central Street), June 23 through Sept. 29. Find them on Facebook @franklinlocalmarket.
• Rochester Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at Rochester Community Center (150 Wakefield St.). Visit rochesternhfarmersmarket.com.

Wednesdays
• Canterbury Community Farmers Market is from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Elkins Public Library (9 Center Road), now through Sept. 30. Visit canterburyfarmersmarket.com.
• Dover Farmers Market is from 2:15 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Dover Chamber of Commerce (550 Central Ave), now through Oct. 7. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Merrimack Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at Vault Motor Storage (526 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack), now through Oct. 7. Visit merrimacknh.gov/farmers-market.
• Peterborough Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. on the lawn of the Peterborough Community Center (25 Elm St.). Find them on Facebook @peterboroughnhfarmersmarket.

Thursdays
• Exeter Farmers Market is from 2:15 to 6 p.m. behind the Seacoast School of Technology (30 Linden St.), now through Oct. 29. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Henniker Community Market is from 4 to 7 p.m. at Henniker Community Center (57 Main St.), now through October. Find them on Facebook @hennikercommunitymarket.
• Intown Manchester’s Farmers Market will be from 3 to 6 p.m. at Victory Park (Concord and Chestnut streets, Manchester), June 25 through Aug. 27. Find them on Facebook @manchesterfood.
• Rindge Farmers Market is from 3 to 6 p.m. at West Rindge Common (Route 202 North), now through Oct. 8. Find them on Facebook @rindgefarmersandcraftersmarket.
• Wolfeboro Area Farmers Market is from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Clark Park (233 S. Main St., Wolfeboro), now through Oct. 15. Visit wolfeboroareafarmersmarket.com.

Fridays
• Francestown Community Market is from 4 to 7 p.m. across from the Francestown Police Station (15 New Boston Road). Find them on Facebook @francestowncommunitymarket.

Saturdays
• Barnstead Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 96 Maple St. in Center Barnstead, now through September. Visit barnsteadfarmersmarket.club.
• Concord Farmers Market is from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Capitol Street in Concord (near the Statehouse), now through October. Visit concordfarmersmarket.com.
• Contoocook Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to noon at 896 Main St. in Contoocook. The year-round market usually moves indoors to Maple Street Elementary School (194 Main St.) beginning in early November, according to market manager Karin Cohen.
• New Boston Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the corner of Route 13 and Meetinghouse Hill Road, now through October (no market on Saturday, July 4). Visit newbostonfarmersmarket.webs.com.
• New Ipswich Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to noon at the New Ipswich town offices (661 Turnpike Road). Find them on Facebook @newipswichfarmersmarket.
• Milford Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 300 Elm St. in Milford (across the street from the New Hampshire Antique Co-op), now through Oct. 10. Visit milfordnhfarmersmarket.com.
• Portsmouth Farmers Market is from 8 a.m. to noon at the Little Harbour School (50 Clough Drive, Portsmouth), now through Nov. 7. Visit seacoastgrowers.org.
• Warner Area Farmers Market is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the lawn of Warner Town Hall (5 E. Main St.), now through October. Visit warnerfarmersmarket.org.
• Wilmot Farmers Market will be from 9 a.m. to noon at 9 Kearsarge Valley Road in Wilmot, June 27 through Sept. 26. Visit wilmotfarmersmarket.com.

Weekly Dish 20/06/18

Glendi canceled: For the first time in four decades, Glendi, a popular three-day festival celebrating Greek culture through food, music and dancing in Manchester, will not be taking place this year. Glendi had been scheduled for Friday, Sept. 18, through Sunday, Sept. 20, at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, but the church made the announcement of its cancellation in a June 10 press release. “Our number one priority is the safety and health of our volunteers, our parishioners and our customers,” the release read. St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church’s 72nd Lamb Barbecue, which would have been on June 20 on the church grounds on Bridge Street in Manchester, has also been canceled, its Parish Council announced.

Appetite for poutine: In place of the canceled fifth annual New Hampshire PoutineFest, which would have been last Saturday, the first PoutineFest Roadshow will be kicking off next month. Tickets recently went on sale online to purchase a special roadshow “passport” for $14.99 (or $29.99 with an event T-shirt included). From July 11 through Aug. 31 you can take the passport with you to any participating restaurant and get 25 percent off a regular order of poutine. According to event organizer Tim Beaulieu, participating Roadshow restaurants encompass much of New England, including many in New Hampshire but others as far north as Maine and the Canadian border and as far south as Rhode Island. “It’s just our way keeping the community of poutine-lovers alive,” Beaulieu said of the Roadshow. “We’ve also had some restaurants in the past that have wanted to come participate at PoutineFest but couldn’t because they were so far away, so now this is their opportunity.” Visit nhpoutinefest.com.

Dinner at your doorstep: Great New Hampshire Restaurants, which owns T-Bones, Cactus Jack’s and the Copper Door, has recently launched a new project called DingDongDeliver.com. Known as a ghost kitchen, DingDongDeliver.com prepares and delivers ready-to-cook meal packages, featuring items like scratch-made chicken pot pie, burger kits, butcher cut steaks, pasta dishes and homemade desserts. Currently, pre-ordered deliveries are available to all Manchester and Bedford addresses on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 1 to 5 p.m. Orders must be placed 24 hours in advance. Visit dingdongdeliver.com, find them on Facebook @dddeliver or call 488-2828.

Signs of Life 20/06/18

All quotes are from Gentleman’s Agreement, by Laura Z. Hobson, born June 19, 1900.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20) So often getting to know a new man was a disheartening business of revising downward from the first impression. Expectations may need revising.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22) Two o’clock in the morning was a hell of a time to remember Pop and his large-scale talk about ethics. The mind was never a respecter of appropriateness. What you want and what’s appropriate may diverge.

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22) Phil folded the paper, creasing it lengthwise and then across as if he were wedged in by a subway mob. But it was time he needed, not space. He might have known this would happen and thought out in advance what to do. There’s no such thing as planning behind.

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22) Philip Green nodded, not in agreement with the comfortable words, but in affirmation of his own estimate of the job ahead. It would be flabby, lifeless, unless he found some special approach to it. Instinct, experience, past failures as well as past successes, all helped him now in his quick appraisal. You’ll find the right approach.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) ‘Committees.’ The certainty of future boredom, of wasted listening, laced his depression with resentment. Get out while you can.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) The editor told him where, and they shook hands with a touch of formality, as if each suddenly remembered he didn’t know the other well. You can strengthen old relationships and make new ones at the same time.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) Soon he was striding along as if he were hurrying to a specific place at a specific time. Actually he was walking only so that he could think more rapidly about the new assignment. … His mind … darted in new directions, hunting possibilities, exploring, rejecting. You’re just full of ideas this week.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) The shyness of the outsider came over him. … Working at home was the setup he’d asked for, but it would be wise, now that he was on the staff, to come in every day until he got to know some of these editors and writers. At once the idea disturbed him. Socialize at your own pace.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) In the two weeks since he’d become a resident of New York, he had passed the stage where he had to watch two successive street signs to see whether he was headed uptown or down. Get to know your surroundings.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20) He wandered about the wide, tall-ceilinged room in which their own furniture and books looked so different from the way they had in the house in California. When the extra bookshelves were built in and the rest of his books taken out of the stacked cartons, it would be a pleasant room; he would like working in it. A little interior design could work wonders.

Aries (March 21 – April 19) At his desk, he had ordered himself to think about the assignment, but like a fractious child, his mind had refused to comply. Try clearing your head between assignments.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) On assignment, he was never shy about meeting and interviewing people, but to make new social contacts was another thing. Your skills may vary with the context, but you still have skills.

The Music Roundup 20/06/18

Get some ’cue: Enjoy outdoor dining with music from Austin McCarthy in an oasis whose opening marks the semi-official start of summer. As Jimmy Buffet sings, “Thank God the Tiki bar is open, thank God the Tiki torch still shines.” McCarthy is an easygoing singer songwriter with a list of covers ranging from Grateful Dead to City & Color, along with some tasty originals. Thursday, June 18, 4 p.m., KC’s Rib Shack, 837 Second St., Manchester. For reservations, go to facebook.com/kcsribshack.

Funny man: Veteran standup Robbie Printz was inspired by attending an Eddie Murphy show to break into comedy, deciding to parlay a childhood spent making up his own SNL skits into a career telling jokes. He’s appeared on Comedy Central and A&E’s venerable Evening at The Improv, and won the Boston Comedy Fest. Printz headlines an 18+ show with Carolyn Plummer and Pat Collins. Friday, June 19, 8 p.m., Amherst Country Club, 72 Ponemah Road, Amherst. Tickets $20 at playamherst.com.

Party down: Offering another sign of revival, The Trichomes play the first show since lockdown at a venue with “live music” right there in its name. Dubbed a Dirty Thirty Birthday Bash for someone named Cheeze, the event requires mask-wearing and Jewel will cap capacity at 30 percent. The Newmarket-based headliners are an eclectic bunch, moving between funk, rock and jazz with ease. Friday, June 19, 7 p.m., Jewel Music Venue, 61 Canal St., Manchester. Tickets $10 at the door.

Good times: Born in Florida, raised on blues and gospel, Pete Peterson is a fixture on the regional scene, both solo and with Rhythm Method and Family Affair, bands that include his daughter Yamica. The seasoned musician’s set list includes a mixture of soul, classic rock and rhythm & blues. He appears at the Salem location of a restaurant chain that’s lately gone all in on live music. Saturday, June 20, 6 p.m., T-Bones Great American Eatery, 311 South Broadway, Salem. Call 893-3444.

Country sound: Recently celebrating her first album, April Cushman performs acoustic songs on a Concord bar and restaurant’s patio. The self-described “hillbilly songwriter” released In a Small Town on June 12; it was engineered by Nashville producer Colt Capperrune. The title song pays tribute to Swanzey, where Cushman grew up, and local spots like Jeanne’s Family Diner. Thursday, June 25, 5 p.m., Cheers NH, 17 Depot St., Concord. More at facebook.com/aprilcushmanmusic.

Treasure Hunt

Dear Donna,

I have a couple of hangers I’m looking to find out more about. They say ‘The Belmar Mfg Co.’ I thought they were very interesting when I bought them at a local thrift store. Any information and a value would be helpful.

Nichole from Weare, N.H.

Dear Nichole,

They are sweet hangers, and having the advertising papers still on them is amazing for the time that has passed and having been used. The Belmar Co. goes back to the late 1800s in Canton, Pennsylvania. They have quite the history in Canton as being one of the largest industries for a long period of time.

Who would think hangers could have such history? This company was owned by a woman first and started in a barn. The hangers were first made just for men’s trousers, then women’s as well. The value would be in the $20-to-$30 range each. I found others in this range that were in bad condition. But I’m not sure how strong the collectible level is for hangers these days. The history is good and that counts for something.

Donna Welch has spent more than 30 years in the antiques and collectibles field, appraising and instructing, and recently closed the physical location of From Out Of The Woods Antique Center (fromoutofthewoodsantiques.com) but is still doing some buying and selling. She is a member of The New Hampshire Antiques Dealer Association. If you have questions about an antique or collectible send a clear photo and information to Donna at footwdw@aol.com, or call her at 391-6550 or 624-8668.

Kiddie Pool 20/06/18

Camp for free

Camp CHaD, a program from Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, is registering campers now for the virtual camp program to begin on Monday, July 6, according to CHaD’s website. Campers will receive weekday emails with virtual classes on subjects such as arts and crafts, movements and STEM, the website said. Go to chadkids.org to register (registration is free though CHaD is accepting donations at dhmcalumdev.hitchcock.org/camp-chad).

Camp in a box

Looking for at-home, summer-camp-like activities that don’t require keeping to a schedule? The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover (childrens-museum.org) is offering “Stay and Play Summer Camp Kits” — mini camper kits are available for ages 4 to 5 and discovery camper kits are available for ages 6 to 10, according to the website. The kits have “25 hands-on activities with instructions, a calendar with additional activity ideas and most of the materials needed to complete the project,” the website said. The kits will include opportunities for check-ins with museum educators and don’t require screen time, though some activities will have optional YouTube videos, according to the website. The cost of the kit is $100 ($85 for members, $160 for a “Community Builder” option which pays for an additional kit to go to a family in need), the website said. The kits will be available for curbside pick-up the last week of June, the website said.

Magic!

And speaking of the Children’s Museum, catch a free “Wow Magic Workshop” on Monday, June 22, at 3 p.m. for kids ages 8 and up, according to the website (childrens-museum.org), where you can register for the interactive online event. Wayne and Kali Moulton of Sages Entertainment will teach magic effects that can be created with items from around the house, the website said. Register in advance.

Pardon my garden

How to prepare for a garden party

In these times, garden parties are few and far between. But if you practice social distancing (tea at 10 feet) and wear masks as needed, you can still share your garden with others. And despite all the hoopla about how people are gardening more, we all still have weeds. But don’t let that daunt you. Here are some tips for making the garden look great, weeds and all — and sharing it with others.

Lyme, New Hampshire, has an informal group of gardeners who associate in a “not-quite-a-garden-club.” No dues, no meetings except for a mid-winter potluck. Someone manages a listserve with good info, links to articles, questions, offers of free plants and more.

Each summer members take turns hosting a weekly “Pardon My Garden” event. All members are invited to pop by a garden, tour around, share libations and snacks, pull weeds, offer suggestions. These are wonderful. But this year some are hesitant to attend, or to host. Here are a few ways brave souls have reduced risks:

(1) Instead of having a garden open for two hours in the evening, some are saying, “come anytime between 1 and 7 p.m.” That makes the population density at any time lower.

(2) Attendees are invited to bring their own glasses, if they want to enjoy a drink. Or hosts serve drinks in single-serving cans or bottles. At one even, box wine was served – no need to touch a cork or bottle. For snacks there were little zipper bags full of nuts, presumably prepared wearing gloves and a mask.

(3) Everyone is very respectful of interpersonal space. Hard not to hug friends after weeks of isolation, but we all just have to wave.

June is the best time in my garden. I have a primrose garden in the shade of old apple trees with many hundreds of candelabra or Japanese primroses in full bloom. So I want to share this with friends, and recently invited two other couples to join Cindy and me for a tour and a chat.

So how did I get the garden ready? First, I mowed the lawn the day before the event. I also have a nice battery-powered string trimmer that I used to tidy up those corners and edges the mower doesn’t get. A nice lawn sets a good first impression.

My partner, Cindy, loves cutting sharp edges around flower beds. She uses an edging tool that looks like a half moon on a long handle to shape nice curves to beds. She also uses a tool that you could make: 30 feet of strong mason’s twine wrapped around two nice wooden pegs with points. She pushes a peg into the ground, unwinds some string, and pulls the string tight from the other end. She then pops the second peg into the ground. That gives her a perfectly straight edge if she needs one. Great in the vegetable garden.

Next, I look for tall weeds, things that tower over our tidy flowers. Got a clump of tall timothy grass that came, via seed, from last year’s mulch hay? Dig it out. And any weed that is blooming should be pulled before it goes to seed and creates more work later on. Don’t worry about weeds in beds with nothing blooming — no one will pay attention.

Look for empty spaces. After getting the most obvious weeds, there will be spaces. You can cover these with mulch, if you wish. Or you can divide a large clump of perennials and put a few in the space. Of course, you can also go to the garden center and spend your Covid-19 relief check on new plants, too. Annuals are easy fillers, and many bloom all summer.

Plants in pots are good fillers, too. I have a large blue and white Chinese vase with papyrus growing in it. It has been wintering over in the house for several years and is a big, handsome plant. I am not above moving it from the deck to the garden to fill in somewhere, or to add interest to a place with no blossoms.

So far, most things aren’t tall enough to flop, but peonies are about to bloom for me, and a hard rain will knock many of them to the ground unless they are surrounded by peony cages or tied up with stakes. Best to support them now, before they flop. The same goes for delphinium, those lovely tall flowers that are famous for flopping and breaking in a hard rain. Like weeding, staking takes time and patience, but it makes for a much better experience over all.

Lastly, clean up the front of beds. Weed, and if you like mulch, add some. I mulched the first four feet of my huge primrose garden, and a friend thought I’d done the whole thing!

Some feel that gardening is a solitary venture. Not me. Yes, working alone, or with Cindy, is fun. But sharing the garden with others is even better. And when I do invite people over, I generally have some “spare” plants potted up to send home with my guests. And the great thing is I know when I visit their gardens I will go home with something I love.

Film Reviews by Amy 6/18/2020

Da 5 Bloods (R)

Spike Lee blends a Vietnam war movie with a quest-for-treasure movie with Da 5 Bloods, a new Netflix release.

Former Army squad-mates Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis) and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) arrive in 21st-century Vietnam to retrieve the body of their squad leader, Norman (Chadwick Boseman), who died during the war. They have also returned in search of gold. As we see in flashbacks to the war, they were sent to retrieve a case of gold bars (CIA money meant to pay local allies) from a plane that crashed in the jungle. After an ambush left only these five men alive, Norman, who had held the squad together through their anguish over the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the ongoing inequality faced by African American troops, argued that they should keep the gold for themselves and their community.

Now a mudslide has revealed a bit of the plane, which, along with the burial site for Norman and the gold, had been lost in the fog of war. But even before the men find the gold, they are weighed down by the past. Paul seems to be the man most aggressively suffering from post-traumatic stress, which has spilled over into his relationship with his adult son David (Jonathan Majors), who shows up, uninvited, on the trip. Otis reaches out to an old girlfriend (Lê Y Lan) and learns that their relationship was more complicated than he knew. The ghosts of the past haunt all of the men, with greater intensity as they set out to hike to the crash site.

I reread my review of Miracle at St. Anna, Lee’s 2008 World War II film, and my feelings about that movie are very similar to my reaction to Da 5 Bloods. This movie, like that one, plays with Hollywood war movie conventions, is packed full of rich moments, pulls in fascinating elements of history, has very Spike Lee visual arrangements, has a very Spike Lee movie score (by Terence Blanchard, who has scored most of Lee’s movies) and has character beats that make you want to know more. It’s a lot for one movie and it doesn’t all always come together. Even though this movie is two hours and 35 minutes, it felt like it needed more time to develop all of the elements it throws into the mix (or needed to edit out a few that didn’t get as much development).

Da 5 Bloods is actually the first of these cinema-at-home movies that I wished I had seen in a theater. I feel like the bigness of what Lee is doing would have worked better on a big screen. At times, the “in search of gold” half of the movie feels like it is fighting with the “fuller look at history” half with its sharp commentary on African American military history and the wider context of racism and injustice in American society. There are a lot of moving parts here (including a whole subplot about a French woman and a landmine clearing nonprofit that I feel like is thematically relevant but a drag on the narrative) but there are also strong performances (from Lindo in particular) and eloquently delivered Spike Lee statements that stick with you.

Here’s how I’m going to recommend Da 5 Bloods — and I do recommend this movie, especially to movie nerds and Spike Lee fans: Make your viewing experience as cinema-like as you can. Dim the lights, put away the phone and watch it all the way through. B

Rated R for strong violence, grisly images and pervasive language,” according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Spike Lee and written by Danny Bilson & Paul De Meo and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee, Da 5 Bloods is two hours and 35 minutes long and available on Netflix.

Shirley (R)

A young couple comes to live with author Shirley Jackson and her husband in Shirley, a not-quite biopic based on a novel by Susan Scarf Merrell.

The movie seems set in the late 1940s and early 1950s at the still all-women Bennington College in Vermont. Rose (Odessa Young) and Fred (Logan Lerman) are a newly married couple who come to Bennington so Fred can work as an assistant for professor Stanley Hyman (Michael Stuhlbarg), husband of famous but reclusive writer Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss).

Stuhlbarg really goes the extra mile to make Stanley unlikeable. I have no idea what real-life Stanley Hyman was like but here he is a blowhard who has affairs and makes little speeches about the horrors of mediocrity when he himself seems pretty mediocre, particularly in comparison to his wife. The picture of Shirley here is a woman suffering from mental illness but also from some degree of gaslighting by her husband, who seems to exaggerate her difficulties and seems to have her convinced that she desperately needs him.

Rose and Fred, shakily on their own after an elopement that Fred’s family frowned on and expecting a baby, are no match for this couple and their drama. Fred seems to quickly give in to the temptations of Bennington while Rose is saddled with becoming the designated housewife for both families — cooking and cleaning for Stanley and Shirley as well as her husband. Shirley, who is mulling over a novel based on the disappearance of a local girl, is sick, Stanley tells Rose, but also we suspect that Stanley is clearing the decks so Shirley can write — the movie (and Wikipedia) leaves us with the impression that not only is Shirley’s fame greater than Stanley’s but so is her paycheck.

Moss’s Shirley is fascinating. She crafts a character who is clearly suffering but isn’t a victim. She seems to resent Stanley, love him deeply, need him and see him for his flaws, all at the same time. She is, as with other recent Moss characters (in The Invisible Man and Her Smell for example), full of big emotions but Moss is able to convey those big emotions and big moments and even elements of madness (another thing Moss excels at) without tipping into cartoonishness.

Shirley feels like she’s running twice as fast as Shirley. About halfway through the movie, I realized I was still waiting for it to start. As Shirley pulls Rose in — to the source-material story of the missing girl, to Shirley’s creative process, to Shirley herself — we see Rose getting lost in all of it. It’s interesting, but it’s all slow to develop and it’s almost as if the movie is so focused on everything Moss is doing that it has to remind itself to pay attention to Rose.

As not-quite-tight as the movie overall is, it’s worth a look, especially for Moss’s performance. B

Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language and brief disturbing images,” according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Josephine Decker with a screenplay by Sarah Gubbins (from a novel by the same name from Susan Scarf Merrell), Shirley is an hour and 47 minutes long and distributed by Neon. It’s available for rent or purchase.

The King of Staten Island (R)

Pete Davidson plays a young man adrift and suffering in The King of Staten Island, a somewhat-autobiographical (about Davidson) movie directed by Judd Apatow.

The “Apatow” part of that sentence might have you thinking this movie is a comedy, even if you know about Davidson’s mental health struggles and his family history (his firefighter father died at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11). It would be more accurate to say that there are funny moments in this drama.

Stuck in his life, Scott (Davidson), age 24, dabbles in self-destructive behavior (shutting his eyes while driving on the highway) and in tattooing and is generally aimless, hanging out with his buddies, unwilling to take his relationship with Kelsey (Bel Powley) seriously and half-heartedly working a part-time job while still living with his mom, Margie (Marisa Tomei), even as his younger sister (Maude Apatow) heads to college.

As the movie tells us early on, Scott hasn’t really been able to move forward after the loss of his firefighter father (who died fighting a fire when Scott was a kid). Just how much becomes clear when Margie starts dating Ray (Bill Burr), also a firefighter and the first serious relationship she’s had since her husband died. Ray’s presence spurs her to nudge Scott to think about moving out, which sends him into a tailspin of anxiety.

I feel like both Davidson and Apatow have a very solid and complete idea of who this character is and what his struggles are — not surprising since everything I’ve read and seen about this movie (including videos on the movie’s official website) so heavily underlines how much of Pete is in Scott. And Davidson plays this character version of himself with genuine, to-the-bone emotion — he brought similar layers to a performance in Big Time Adolescence, a movie released on Hulu earlier this year, and here brings even more vulnerability.

But I didn’t get the sense that this movie always knew what to do with this character. At about the 50-minute point I felt like this movie was spinning its wheels still setting up who Scott is. The movie is also uneven in how it uses a subplot involving Scott’s friends, and Scott and Ray’s relationship seems to take an unnecessary amount of time to get to where it’s pretty clear that it’s going. Everything in the middle of this movie — from the initial 30 or so minutes and until it hits its final 30 to 40 minutes — seems to suffer from a lack of a heartless editor, someone who could slice out all the moments that are probably viewed fondly by Davidson (and maybe also Apatow, whose movies seem to have become progressively looser and filled with scenes that probably should have remained outtakes) but get in the way of both Scott’s arc and where the movie heads in its final act.

It’s hard to completely discount a movie as deeply felt as The King of Staten Island clearly is and with such a clear and specific character at its core. And I didn’t hate it. But I did wish I didn’t have to slog through all the messy extra bits.B-

Rated R for language and drug use throughout, sexual content and some bloody violence/bloody images,” according to the MPA on filmratings.com.

Book Review 20/6/18

Somebody’s Gotta Do It, by Adrienne Martini (Henry Holt & Co., 240 pages)

On one hand, Adrienne Martini suffered from terrible timing, her new book coming out amid a global pandemic.

On the other, it’s a book about running for public office, and it’s out amid the most social unrest since the 1960s. Hillary Clinton tweeted about it. By these measures, it should be on everyone’s best-seller lists.

Somebody’s Gotta Do It is Martini’s account of running for — and winning — a decidedly unsexy office: district representative for Otsego County in rural New York. It’s also a call for you to stop the doomsday scrolling and do the same, wherever you live. This is not just because the world seems to be imploding before our eyes, but because of what Martini calls “a ripe, juicy opportunity ready to be plucked,” the redistricting that will happen next year, establishing electoral maps for the next decade.

Before your eyes glaze over at the prospect of being lectured to by the District 12 representative from Otsego County (home to Cooperstown, if you’re trying to place it), know that Martini is genuinely funny, despite being a middle-aged woman who knits. A marathon runner who writes a biweekly column called Dry Martini on a running website (anothermotherunner.com), she is a reliable source of a laugh. That said, if you disagree with her political views and can’t take jokes aimed at your team, steer clear; you will only get angry. A previous memoir, 2010’s Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously, may have the distinction of being the only knitting memoir savaged by Amazon reviewers for being too political. “If you want to tell the world of your political views, then WRITE A POLITICAL BOOK,” one said.

Regardless of your political leanings, Somebody’s Gotta Do It is a fine manual for the aspiring politician (or public servant, if you’re less cynical than me). It begins with Martini’s meltdown after the election of President Donald Trump. (The president’s supporters would call this the onset of Trump Derangement Syndrome.) Suffice it to say, Martini was not pleased, and after the inauguration, she decided it was high time she got involved in the political process.

The campaign itself was revelatory. But so was plunging into the work. At the first budget session for new members, during which she realized that the salt-and-sand budget for her county “could pay for my house three times over,” she concluded that running for office was kind of like pregnancy, in that she had spent nine months being “obsessed with the wrong things.”

“I owned every book on pregnancy and delivery, but had no skills or knowledge about, you know, infants.” Similarly, she said, “I’d approached running for office armed with research and numbers and opinions about how to win, rather than collecting information about what happens once you’re sworn in.”

While much of the book is about her own experiences, Martini delves a little into history, including the violence done to women’s suffragists, and also research on the gender divide in elected office. Although more women than men go to college, fewer hold public office, because fewer of them run. Martini suggests that this is as much about a lack of confidence as it is lack of role models. “Give every woman the confidence of a middle-class white guy, and we’ll run the world,” she writes. However, when women do run, they’re as likely as men to win. It’s just getting them to agree to be on the ballot that’s the problem, she said. That looks to be changing, at least among pro-choice Democrats. The political action committee Emily’s List reported that 920 women asked for information on running for office in 2016; in 2018 the number was 26,000.

Martini shines when applying her “Dry Martini” wit to the indignities of seeking office, as in her list of things she learned while doing that quintessential politician task: knocking on doors. One person, she reports, told her they couldn’t open the door because everyone in the house had tuberculosis, “which can’t possibly be true, but whatever.” The humor, however, comes and goes amid instruction on how to ask people for donations, design mailings, and answer seemingly impossible questions such as, “What would you do to combat the opioid epidemic in the county?” If we get a little impatient between jokes, it’s because we’ve been conditioned for them and expect them at the end of every paragraph, a la Sedaris.

In addition to learning how to run for public office, readers of Someone’s Gotta Do It will emerge with fresh revulsion for the typical coroner system, in which people of any background can be elected to determine how someone died, so long as they’re 18 or older and live in the county.

Martini’s revulsion for that system, however, is surpassed by her revulsion to Trump, whose election, she writes, left her literally shaking.

Like the nonplussed knitters upset by Martini’s political leaning in her previous memoir, some people won’t be able to get past the Trump hate to find anything useful or inspirational here. But for those who can, or those who share her views, Somebody’s Gotta Do It is a breezy, informative look at the grassy roots of politics, with the cheerleading of an overweight marathon runner who knows what it’s like to persevere while in pain. “Running very slowly while crying is still moving forward,” she writes. “So is walking while muttering [expletive, expletive, expletive].” B+

Covers for two books. Salvage the Bones, handwritten font tangled in the black silhouette of a tree, a swirly blue sky and yellow ground. The cover for Difficult Women, a black background with thin light pink font, and a heart made from pink color splashes.

BOOK NOTES
The most interesting thing in publishing last week was not in book stores but on Twitter through the hashtag #publishingpaidme.

The hashtag started as a means to expose disparity between advances paid to black and white authors, but wound up also showing differences between genres, and also the courage of authors who chose to participate.

Roxane Gay, a black writer of fiction and nonfiction, said she was paid $15,000 for her 2014 essay collection Bad Feminist, $100,000 for 2017’s Hunger: A Memoir of My Body, and $150,000 for The Year I Learned Everything, expected next year.

Those numbers horrified Mandy Len Catron, an American writer and professor currently living in British Columbia, who revealed that she received a $400,000 advance for her 2017 memoir How to Fall in Love With Anyone.

For perspective, Catron confesses that she was “a totally unknown white woman with one viral article” — which was “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This,” published in The New York Times in 2015. Without revealing sales numbers, Catron also said that three years later she is “laughably far from earning out that advance.”

I wish I could recommend we all buy a copy of How to Fall in Love With Anyone just to support Catron for her honesty. But I just found my review from three years ago, and all I could muster was a “B.” Better to buy something written by Gay (I gave her 2017 short-story collection Difficult Women an A) or anything by novelist Jesmyn Ward.

Ward revealed on Twitter that her advance for 2011’s Salvage the Bones, which won a National Book Award, was $20,000 — about $13,000 less than the average car loan taken out this month.

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