The Weekly Dish 20/09/03

Intown Farmstand extended: Intown Manchester’s Farmstand, which began on June 25 and was expected to run through the end of August, has now been extended through Sept. 24. The stand is held every Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Victory Park (Concord and Chestnut streets, Manchester), featuring farmers with Fresh Start Farms, a program of the Manchester-based Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success. Each week the stand has featured a variety of summer vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers and okra, as well as ethnic crops like amaranth greens and African eggplant and selections from local businesses like Dandido Sauce and DJ’s Pure Natural Honey. Find them on Facebook @manchesterfood or visit

School Street Cafe opens in Dunbarton: A new cafe offering homemade sandwiches, baked goods and locally roasted coffees opened Aug. 15 at 1007 School St. in Dunbarton Center. The School Street Cafe is located where MG’s Farmhouse Cafe closed earlier this year, co-owners Lindsey Andrews and Carrie Hobi said. The menu features fresh sandwiches, like an avocado chicken panini, a chicken salad sandwich, a turkey club and a veggie wrap, plus pastries like cookies and cinnamon rolls, and yogurt parfaits with vanilla Greek yogurt, fresh berries and homemade gluten-free granola. Coffees are roasted at the Manchester-based Hometown Coffee Roasters and include a house blend and some rotating specialty blends. About a dozen flavors of Blake’s Ice Cream are available too. According to Andrews, soups will likely be introduced to the menu in the coming weeks. The School Street Cafe is open Wednesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., with extended hours for ice cream on Friday and Saturday, from 6 to 8 p.m., now through September. Visit or call 774-CAFE (2233).

Virtual food festival a success: Organizers of this year’s New Hampshire Jewish Food Festival, which had transitioned into a takeout event only, reported “an unexpected but triumphant success,” according to an Aug. 28 press release. In lieu of a traditional food festival at Temple B’Nai Israel in Laconia, a drive-thru system was implemented for customers to pick up their items after placing their orders online. The takeout menu featured many of the popular items that had been featured at past festivals, all of which were prepared in advance and sold frozen. “Once the … website opened on July 27 [for online ordering], there was an overwhelming response from the community, near and far, which led to many items beginning to sell out,” the release read. “One of the biggest surprises was the demand for matzo ball soup. Historically, 20 to 25 quarts were sold annually. This year, customers bought 107 quarts.” According to the release, 150 customers picked up their orders over a five-day period, in 175 time slot options total. The temple hopes to resume normal festival operations in 2021.

Treasure Hunt 20/09/03

Dear Donna,
Attached are two photos of a lovely old print (the print part is 6” x 14”) and a closeup of the signature, which I can’t quite read. The frame, I suspect, is original. Any thoughts?

Dear Phil,
I have to start off by saying that I too tried to figure out the signature but didn’t have any luck either. It’s a tough one! But I think you are right that it’s in the original frame, and it is a pleasant subject. It looks to be around the 1900s, so that is something to start with. The value of a print is affected by whether it is signed, numbered and made by a specific company or attributed to an artist.

I think it is fair to say that content is very important and has to be pleasing for buyers to want to purchase it. I think the frame is important too. Yours appears to be a faux tortoise with a gold wood trim, clean and in good shape. I think even if it is just a mass-produced print the value would be in the $60 range just from appearance, and sometimes that is all we have to base it on.

Kiddie Pool 20/09/03

Music at the ballpark

Recycled Percussion will take to the field (well, technically, a stage on the field) at the Fisher Cats’Delta Dental Stadium in downtown Manchester this Saturday, Sept. 5, and Sunday, Sept. 6. The shows are at 8 p.m. on both nights, gates open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $35. Bring blankets and pillow for on-field viewing spots, the website said. The concession stand will be open. See

Day at the beach

The Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Classic, postponed from earlier in the summer, will run this weekend, Thursday, Sept. 3, through Saturday, Sept. 5, at Hampton Beach. Last week, 200 tons of sand was dropped at the sculpting site, according to Starting Thursday (and daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday), sculptors will work on their solo creations on this year’s theme, “Enchanted Land of the Sea.” Judging will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, when the public will also have a chance to vote for a people’s choice winner, the website said. All the winners will be announced on Saturday at a ceremony at 7 p.m. and the site will be available for viewing (with nighttime lighting) through Sunday, Sept. 13, the website said.

Glorious hydrangeas

Now in full bloom

When I was a boy, I always took note of cemeteries as we drove by them. I’d lost a beloved grandfather, the original Henry Homeyer, and my mother’s mom. I was taken with a shrub or small tree in cemeteries that I called either “the snowball bush” or the “cemetery bush.”

Back in the day what I now call the PeeGee Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’) was present in every cemetery. They bloom for months, require no work other than planting, and will grow anywhere. Now there are dozens of species and varieties of hydrangeas, offering a great choice for small gardens — these never get huge, like a maple or an elm.

In the nursery trade the PeeGee hydrangea has fallen out of favor, mostly. Now Limelight, Pinky Winky and others with jazzy names and bigger flowers are more popular. But I love my PeeGee that I planted some 25 years ago. It is blooming with over 100 large white flowers now. It’s about nine feet wide and eight feet tall. Like most hydrangeas, if I wait until just before frost and cut some flower stems to put in a dry vase, they will look good all winter — and longer.

Most hydrangeas like full sun or part shade, good soil and adequate moisture. Some, like the panicle hydrangeas, bloom on new wood, while others — those that bloom early in the summer — bloom on buds developed the summer before, also called “old wood.”

The blue hydrangeas (H. macrophylla or big-leaf hydrangeas) generally bloom on old wood, and for those of us in the northern part of New England, that is unfortunate. Our tough winters ruin the flower buds, so the plants don’t bloom in June as desired. Nurseries in the South grow them, ship them to us in full bloom, but after Year 1 we are lucky to get three blossoms in September. Period.

Then along came Endless Summer, a big-leaf hydrangea that promised to bloom all summer long. I tried it, and called it Endless Disappointment. It died back in the winter, grew, but rarely flowered. Newer varieties are out there, and may be tougher, but in Zone 3 or 4 I say buy them in bloom and use as annuals. Not only that, blue hydrangeas produce pink or insipid colors if the soil pH is not acidic enough. ‘Nuff said.

I like my Pink Diamond, a panicle hydrangea with strong stems and fewer florets per flower head than the PeeGee. That means it doesn’t get weighed down by rain and drop to the ground like many other hydrangeas. It starts out white, then gradually turns pink. It is an excellent cut flower, too.

What about shade-growing hydrangeas? There are two nice ones. H. arborescens Grandiflora, also known as Hills of Snow, does well in shade. Its pompoms are much smaller than those of Annabelle, another of the same species, so it does not flop much after a rain. I like it better. It gets to be five or six feet tall and wide if left to its own, but many people cut it to the ground in late winter. The vigorous new growth will be shorter, and the pruning invigorates the plant.

My favorite shade hydrangea is the climbing hydrangea (H. anomala ssp. petiolaris). This tough vine will grow on the north side of a wall and can attach itself to brick or stone. It is slow-growing when young but after five years or so becomes quite vigorous. I attached the stems of mine to the side of my barn when young, but later the stems slipped through cracks in the barn and held on. Mine has even bloomed inside the barn! Climbing hydrangea has showy white, sterile petals on the outer rim of each flower panicle, and less showy, fertile flowers in the center. It blooms in June and the white petals stay white all year, so the flowers always look good. The vines have shaggy exfoliating bark, which is interesting in winter, too.

I recently attended a Hydrangea Walk at the home of Chris Wilson of Newbury, Vermont. Chris is a nursery professional, having worked at EC Brown Nursery in Thetford, Vermont, for over 35 years. Chris collects hydrangeas, lilacs and daffodils and opens his gardens three times a year to view them. This time we all wore masks and practiced social distancing. We didn’t want, as Chris said, “to die to see a hydrangea.” Chris has at least a couple of dozen different kinds of hydrangeas — and a good sense of humor.

Chris had two hydrangeas I had not ever seen before that I like. The first, called Great Star (H. paniculata), was first discovered in the gardens of Princess Greta Sturdza in Varengeville Sur Mer, Normandy, France. It appeared as a naturally occurring branch mutation of an unnamed seedling of Hydrangea paniculata. It has very prominent wide, strap-like sterile florets that are star-like. I hope to find a specimen and plant it in my garden.

The other hydrangea I saw there is another that does well in shade, H. paniculata White Moth. Chris had it tucked in near a large tree, and it was blooming nicely.

Don’t have a hydrangea? I highly recommend them. Most have blossoms now, when most flowering trees are done for the year. So go to your local family-run garden center and see what they have. I bet you’ll find something you like.

Featured Photo: Hydrangea “Great Star”. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

Leading lady

Concord artist named national president of Women’s Caucus for Art

The Women’s Caucus for Art, a 48-year-old national arts organization with 21 chapters across the U.S., has a new president, and she lives right here in the Granite State. Laura Morrison of Concord is an artist, the gallery director at Twiggs Gallery in Boscawen and a 20-plus-year member of the Women’s Caucus for Art New Hampshire Chapter. She talked about the position, leadership during the time of Covid and her plans moving forward.

What do you do as an artist?

I’m a fiber artist. I do fiber sculpture using free-form crochet, knitting, embroidery, beading, felting, whatever fiber I want to use to create the effect I want to make. I’ve been doing that for about 15 years or so. Before that, I did more assemblage and collage. Sometimes I’ll do some printmaking as well. But my major focus is on fiber.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Women’s Caucus for Art?

I joined WCA when I first moved to New Hampshire over 20 years ago, so I’ve been involved with the organization for a long time. I was looking to focus on my fine art more intently, and I wanted to find a group of people to connect with. I found the WCA New Hampshire Chapter and got very involved with that pretty quickly. I worked on a lot of exhibitions. I served on the board for several years and eventually became president. Then, about four or five years ago, I became involved with the national board. I joined as the VP for Chapter Relations, which connected me with all the chapters across the country. I would help them with whatever they needed, [like] chapter activities and things like that, and I tried to connect them with each other. Then, this year, I became [national] president.

How has WCA helped you as an artist?

It’s been a great way to help me nurture my life as an artist. I don’t think I would have had the courage to actually pursue my fine art if I hadn’t found this organization. The New Hampshire chapter is actually one of the more vibrant WCA chapters in the country — we have close to 100 members — so I got to meet a lot of artists. It’s a very supportive, nurturing organization. We really help each other out and mentor each other and encourage each other to do our work. When I first started out, I didn’t know much about the art world, but [through WCA] I learned a lot, like how to pull together exhibitions, how to write press releases, all sorts of different things.

What does your new position entail right now?

Well, we’re in a very difficult time right now. Normally, we have conferences every year, get together for summer meetings, things like that, but in this time of Covid we’re not able to do that. But, having worked as the VP for Chapter Relations for four years, I saw an opportunity: Everyone has learned how to [use] Zoom. No one had really used Zoom or connected with each other that way before, but once we had lockdown, after a couple of weeks everyone had learned how to do it. I thought it would be a great opportunity to nurture communication between members and chapters across the nation so that they could really start connecting more intimately and getting to know each other better, which would create a more cohesive organization instead of being fractured into chapters. … So that’s what I’m doing right now. I’ve only been doing it for a few months, but it’s really beginning to ramp up and get more people connected. It’s been exciting.

What would you like to accomplish during your tenure?

We normally have about 1,200 members; I’d love to grow the organization even larger, and I’d like to increase networking and interaction and collaboration on projects between our members and chapters. When the different chapters around the nation are putting on exhibits, I’d like to see them open [the exhibits] to all WCA members, not just the members or people in their region, so that there are more exhibition opportunities for all of our members. … We have a lot of members who are not near a chapter, so I’d like for us to take advantage of the technology we have and do virtual meetings and gatherings to pull in people from other states who might feel alone or not connected or not nurtured. … I want to take educational videos of the interesting talks and different presentations that the chapters have done and get those videos up on our website so all of our members can have access to what the other chapters have done as well. … I also really want people to have better communication throughout [the art world] at large and learn how to connect with the other arts organizations within their regions and collaborate with them as well.

Why should artists join WCA?

First, I want to say that WCA is very inclusive instead of exclusive. You do not have to be juried into the organization, so anyone can join. We have all sorts of different artists, from painters to photographers, sculptors to print makers to fiber artists and quilters. … Being an artist is hard to do by yourself. You really need to connect with other artists in order to grow your practice, feel supported, gain confidence, learn new things and get excited about creating art. Sharing your art with other people is also, I think, super important, whether it’s [through] an exhibition or even just an art share meeting. … [In WCA] we’re very supportive of each other and really lift each other up in every aspect of our careers. We don’t compete with each other. We help each other. That’s why I feel like this organization is very special.

Featured Photos: Laura Morrison. Courtesy photo.

The Art Roundup 20/09/03

Covid-19 poetry: Hobblebush Books has published a new poetry anthology, COVID Spring: Granite State Pandemic Poems, edited by New Hampshire Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary. After National Poetry Month’s in-person poetry readings and writers’ workshops were canceled in April, Peary invited New Hampshire residents to submit original poems that address how they or the people around them are affected by or responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Writing is a good way for people to cope right now,” Peary told the Hippo in April, “and the anthology is an amazing opportunity for us to process, express and document what we are going through.” According to a press release, more than 100 writers submitted work in a range of poetic forms and styles. Fifty-four were chosen to be featured in the anthology. The poems “provide a thirty-day snapshot of what life was like in the Granite State in April of 2020” and explore topics like Covid-related “job loss, loneliness and love, masks, social distancing, surreal visitors, uncertainty, graduations deferred, grief, neighborly and less-than-neighborly acts, observing the beginning of the pandemic and making projections about the future, recalibrating or confirming what it means to be human, to be a resident of this region,” Peary said in the anthology’s introduction. The book is available to purchase at local bookstores, Hobblebush Books (, Small Press Distribution ( and Amazon. Hobblebush Books will donate $2 from every copy sold to the New Hampshire Food Bank to support New Hampshire residents impacted by the pandemic. The book will also be featured in an online reading sponsored by the New Hampshire State Library on Monday, Sept. 21, with further readings to be scheduled. Visit

Last chance for free comics: Free Comic Book Summer, a reworking of Free Comic Book Day in which local comic book shops put out a handful of different free comics every Wednesday, will conclude with its last batch of free comics on Wednesday, Sept. 9. The comics will include The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess/Splatoon (adventure/fantasy, for teen readers) with Squid Kids Comedy Show; The Incal (sci-fi, for mature readers); and Sue & Tai-chan (a “kitty comedy” based on the Chi’s Sweet Home series, for readers of all ages). Visit for the full list of this year’s free comics and to find participating comic book shops in your area.

Plays by the Lakes: The Winnipesaukee Playhouse (33 Footlight Circle, Meredith) announced in a press release that it has reopened, with a small season of three productions to be performed at the Playhouse’s outdoor amphitheatre in September and October. Or, will run Wednesday, Sept. 2, through Sunday, Sept. 6, and Wednesday, Sept. 9, through Saturday, Sept. 12, at 4 p.m. The historical play by Liz Duffy Adams’ is a fictionalized account of the life of England’s first female playwright Aphra Behn. Tickets cost $29 to $39. Or, will be followed by The Mountaintop, opening on Wednesday, Sept. 16, and No Wake, opening on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Visit or call 279-0333.

Quality of Life 20/09/03

Granite Stater of the Month

Kendra Smith of Nashua was named August’s Granite Stater of the Month by U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan for the work she has done to bring hot meals to community members in need, according to a press release. Through the nonprofit organization Feed the Children, which she started through her catering company Soel Sistas, Smith and her team drive to neighborhoods around Nashua twice a week to distribute hot meals. Menu items include burgers, chicken and rice bowls and fruit. According to the release, Smith started her mission in the spring, when she realized that, with schools closed due to Covid-19, students in her community were at risk of going hungry.

Score: +1

Comment: Feed the Children is also supported by people in Smith’s community who make small donations and hold food drives, according to the release.

More better food

A new pilot program created to provide locally grown food to those in need while supporting local farmers has just launched. NH Feeding NH is a collaboration between the New Hampshire Food Bank, New Hampshire Farm Bureau, New Hampshire Food Alliance and Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire and is an effort to “support the purchase of New Hampshire-grown food to provide food insecure Granite Staters with more access to nutritious, locally grown produce, dairy and meat,” according to a press release.

Score: +1

Comment: NH Feeding NH is being funded through a one-time grant from the federal CARES Act, which has allowed New Hampshire Food Bank partner agencies to purchase more local foods from farmers at a fair market price, according to the press release.

Beware pandemic scam

Never trust anyone who offers financial help and then asks for money or your personal information — that’s the message that New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Jennifer L. Harper and New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald are sending out to residents after receiving reports of scams related to Covid-19 financial help. According to a press release, scammers are pretending to be from the government, contacting people by robocalls, text messages, emails and other outreach, falsely claiming that they can get people financial help during the pandemic, or offering essential worker hazard pay.

Score: -1

Comment: To avoid being scammed, Harper and MacDonald advise that you should never send money or provide personal information to someone you don’t know; immediately delete any email or text asking for money or personal information (and never open links in emails, as it might contain a virus); and hang up on anyone asking for money in exchange for disaster assistance.

Golfing for good

Two local nonprofit organizations recently held successful socially distanced golf tournaments to raise funds for their programs. On Aug. 10, Girls Inc. of New Hampshire held its second annual Granite State Golf Challenge at the Nashua Country Club, hosting 30 teams and raising more than $51,000, according to a press release. High school age Girls Inc. members volunteered at the event, helping with parking, handing out gift bags and giving water to golfers on the course. And on Aug. 17, the seventh annual golf tournament was held at the Manchester Country Club and raised $77,840, according to a press release.

Score: +1

Comment: Girls Inc. of New Hampshire is for girls ages 5 to 18 and inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold, while’s mission is to make New Hampshire’s communities stronger through philanthropy, employee involvement and volunteerism, according to the organizations’ press releases.

QOL score: 52

Net change: +2

QOL this week: 54

What’s affecting your Quality of Life here in New Hampshire? Let us know at

Walk this way

Deerfield man walks for Ronald McDonald House Charities

On Aug. 17, Dwight Barnes, a Deerfield resident and retired McDonald’s restaurant owner and operator, set out on a 56-day, 1,000-mile walk to visit six Ronald McDonald Houses across New England and raise awareness and funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provides lodging and support for families with critically ill children who are receiving treatment at hospitals away from home. On his ninth day on the road, with nearly 160 miles behind him, Barnes spoke over the phone while walking from Portland to Freeport, Maine.

Why is this cause important to you?

I was in the McDonald’s business for almost 40 years, most of [that time] as a [restaurant] owner-operator. I got involved early on in fundraising. … Owner-operators would have the opportunity to meet some of the families that stayed at the Ronald McDonald Houses, and sometimes we would get video messages from them, thanking us for what we do and for supporting the charity. Their stories were incredibly tough stories to listen to. Hearing all of the things that the families and the kids are going through really tugs at your heartstrings.

What inspired you to do this walk?

It was originally designed to be the kickoff for a capital campaign [to build] new facilities in the Boston hospital area, but with Covid this year, the two major fundraisers for that were canceled, so this project was first and foremost to fill that hole on the revenue side. … I also just love the charity and wanted to shed a light on the Houses and the Care Mobiles and what they do. I thought a walk would be fun, something a little different, and I realized I could do it and do it for long distances; I guess all the time standing behind the counter at the McDonald’s restaurants has built up my lower body.

How’s it going so far?

So far, it’s been great. I’ve visited a couple [McDonald’s] restaurants I’ll be visiting 65 along the way and I had my first House visit today in Portland, and that was a really nice time. They gave me a wonderful tour of the facility. … I got to meet the staff members, some of the board members, some [McDonald’s restaurants] owner-operators from the area, and I even had some friends from my hometown drop by.

What’s life like on the road? How are you taking care of yourself?

I laid out the route late last year based on [the locations of] the Ronald McDonald Houses. … I’m mainly staying in hotels and motels … and the team has been working hard to secure the reservations and attempt to get me complimentary nights for the benefit of charity, and they’ve been extremely successful with that. … I’m walking mostly on the side of the road … and on sidewalks. I’ve had the opportunity to go on a couple of trails one in New Hampshire, from Derry to Epping, and one from Saco to Scarborough, Maine and that’s been very nice. … I carry a backpack that’s probably between 25 and 30 pounds at the moment. I’ve got water, extra clothes I do my laundry in the sink every night toiletries, rain gear … and blister repair items. … I typically have Pandora on while I’m walking. I’m an old guy, so I like the oldies. … Some of the stretches are a little long and lonely, but I was blessed to have some walking buddies with me on four of the days. It sure is nice when I have company. It makes the day go by.

Have you had any crazy or memorable moments during your first nine days?

Yeah, a couple. On Route 28 in Andover, Mass., I had a fella who made a U-turn and came back toward me and yelled out his window, ‘Hey, are you the McDonald’s guy?’ He jumped out, ran around the side of his van, threw the door open, and there were two kids in the back. He said, ‘Would you mind standing next to the door here so I can get a picture of you with my kids?’ He was quite a character. I had another situation where a lady drove by, slowed down right in the middle of the road, took a turn right in front of oncoming traffic, pulled over on the other side of the road, jumped out and said, ‘I want to get your picture!’ People have been pretty nice. However, many people think I’m some sort of a nutcase with the way I dress. I’ve got the Ronald McDonald socks on and a backpack and flashing lights, so they think I’m a little strange.

What do you hope to accomplish by the end of this journey?

To raise as much money as we can for the capital campaign … and to shine a spotlight on the folks out there in the Ronald McDonald charities who are doing this wonderful work to help families and children. … I want to make sure that people recognize what they do. Sometimes life gets busy and you don’t know about some of the good things that are going on out there. … At the same time I want to encourage people to do something for someone else. … Even after you turn 65, if there’s still some gas in the tank, you can get out there and do some good.

Featured Photo: Dwight Barnes. Courtesy photo.

Wrath on Rask

Normally, when the calendar hits Aug. 1 I irrationally begin mourning the end of summer. I just love the freedom of summer, even though from a sports perspective I actually enjoy the other eight months more. I like baseball, but it is a distant third to the fall and winter sports, because the season is endless and many of its so called “progressive” changes have turned a crisp two-hour-and-30-minute game into a daily mini-series, which drives me nuts.

But after the pandemic stole our summer, it’s the first week of September and I barely noticed or even cared. I mean, I spent the most perfect day of the summer on Sunday indoors watching the Celtics spank the Raptors 112-94 in Game 1 of their playoff series. Good game, but it’s something I truly hate doing when the Patriots play 1 p.m. games during September because it feels like I’m stealing my last days of summer.

But that was then and this is now, the new normal. And even in a week where players’ boycotts and game suspensions in support of Black Lives Matters protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, were the biggest story in sports, the pandemic was still there lurking and taking its toll. So with summer gone and the sport most likely to be disrupted by its impossible-to-avoid close contact set to start when the Patriots take on the Dolphins next Sunday at, ugh, 1 p.m., let’s take a look at what the pandemic has wrought on sports since March.

Bucks fans might disagree because the team’s run at a historic won-lost record was disrupted by the shutdown. But of all the teams and fans getting disappointed most, my vote goes to L.A. and Las Vegas, who’ll both miss the opening of spectacular football stadiums in their cities and things are only brand new once. Especially Vegas fans, who’ll miss the transplanted Raiders first game ever in sin city.

The best line summing up the difficulty baseball had with nine teams playing in the four states with the highest concentration of Covid-19 came from a woman on Twitter after 17 members of the Miami organization tested positive: “the entire city of Toronto has fewer cases than the Marlins.” Which was ironic since the Blue Jays couldn’t even play in that clean city or their own country because of Canada’s quarantine wall of the U.S. Thus they shuffled off to Buffalo to play there.

Speaking of the Marlins, even though they got hit with those 17 positive tests in one day they weren’t the hardest hit by coronavirus. They managed to carry on with replacement players presumably off the docks in Miami to beat the moribund Orioles 4-0 in Game 1 after the quarantine started. It’s the Cardinals, who at the point of their 20th scheduled game already had 15 games canceled. While Ernie Banks would’ve loved to play 15 doubleheaders, doing it in a 60-game schedule is 25 percent of the season! So you have to wonder how they’ll find enough pitchers to do that.

As a result of things like that, injuries are piling up. According to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, 104 pitchers are on the IL, including Nathan Eovaldi, who went there Saturday with a calf injury. At a similar point last year 51 were IL’d, not counting 20 more who tested positive.

At the outset of NFL camp word was released Matthew Stafford had tested positive, leading to real family problems. Turned out it was a false positive, but it was already out there, which led to his children and wife Jill being harassed in the grocery store and elsewhere for putting others in danger. Jill was ticked at being put in that predicament by the League, and who can blame her.

The early leader for biggest bonehead of the pandemic was L.A. Clipper Lou Williams for going to an Atlanta strip club while on leave from the bubble for a, ah, “family emergency.” That got discovered when some rapper I never heard of put a picture of the two on social media after Williams supposedly went there for their famous chicken wings. It led to a 14-day quarantine and three missed games. Chicken wings – really? Sounds like a 21st-century version of those who said in the ’60s they bought Playboy for the articles.

That was quickly surpassed by Indians hurlers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac for sneaking out of their hotel for a night out in Chicago in violation of league protocol. Plesac was sent home immediately while Clevinger a day later after first lying to the team then exposing all at a team meeting. Plesac later sent a rambling video on Instagram recorded while driving his car, which blamed the media for reporting it and not him for doing it. Don’t think their jobs after baseball will be as rocket scientists.

If you’re like me and not following the baseball standings closely, Tampa Bay is leading the AL East and has the second best record in baseball to Oakland. That after Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy mocked TB’s approach all winter after Chaim Bloom was hired from that org to be Sox GM.

Tampa Bay vs. Oakland in the ALCS should be a real TV ratings grabber.

The A+ among commissioners goes to Adam Silver. Both for his plan to operate in the Orlando bubble leading to zero positive tests among all involved, and for avoiding a potential season-ending social justice boycott by NBA players after Monday’s police shooting in Kenosha.

This isn’t Covid- 19 per se, but did anyone else see the Facebook picture of Becky Bonner, of the Concord Bonners, furiously diagramming a play in the Magic huddle during an August game? She’s listed as VP of Player Development but guess she’s getting game action time too. Nice.

With most of the college football season wiped out, what in the name of Bernie Kosar will Mel Kiper Jr. do all year?

We’ll get to the Patriots next week.

Mule season

How the Moscow mule and its many variations can take you from summer to fall

A traditional Moscow mule is just three ingredients — vodka, ginger beer and lime juice — poured over crushed ice, garnished with a lime wedge and, of course, served in a copper mug. But it’s also a cocktail that lends itself to countless variations, from the type of alcohol used to the different flavors added, whether you’re working with liqueurs, syrups or purees.

“It’s a very basic drink … but also a very versatile one that you can easily change up,” said Ron Pacheco, assistant general manager of The Foundry Restaurant in Manchester, which has dabbled in all kinds of seasonal mules on its cocktail menu over the years.

Local bar managers and mixologists discuss the unique spins they’ve made on this American bar staple (as it turns out, the Moscow mule was not actually invented in Moscow, nor does it have anything to do with mules) and give some recommendations for the best flavor pairings.

The classic mule

Even a mule’s most basic ingredients have many variations, depending on the brand of vodka or ginger beer used. Elissa Drift, a manager and bartender at Stella Blu in Nashua, said that Gosling’s brand ginger beer is among the most common in making mules.

“It’s a little bit more sweet and sugary … so people aren’t put off by the astringent ginger flavor,” she said, “but you can really use whatever version of ginger beer floats your boat.”

Sarah Maillet, who co-owns 815 Cocktails & Provisions in Manchester, said the mules you’ll find there use Maine Root ginger beer, a brand made with organic cane sugar. A couple of years ago, the downtown speakeasy-style bar also introduced a house Moscow mule recipe on draft.

The brand of vodka is also largely up to personal preference. Drift has used Ketel One and Celsius vodka, while at The Foundry, Pacheco said the No. 1 selling brand for mules is Tito’s. The ratio of vodka to lime juice in a mule will vary slightly depending on where you go.

“It’s always more ginger beer,” Pacheco said. “For us, you’re looking at typically an ounce and a half of vodka … to a half-ounce of lime juice, and then the rest is ginger beer.”

Drift said she likes to incorporate the vodka and the ginger beer into the cocktail at the same time to best combine them before adding the lime juice. A lime wedge is a very common garnish in classic mules, although you might see herbs like mint or basil used.

The origin of the Moscow mule is traced back to Hollywood, California, in the early 1940s. Cathy Dion of Martini’s Etc. Professional Bartending Services, based in Hooksett, said the drink was first known as a vodka buck. A “buck” is a more general term for a cocktail with ginger beer and a liquor, according to Jeff Eagen, a bartender at Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth.

In his 2004 book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, author Ted Haigh writes that the Moscow mule is widely credited with popularizing the consumption of vodka in the United States. The story goes that the very first Moscow mule was created in 1941 at the Cock’n Bull Pub on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Jack Morgan, then the tavern’s owner, had been brewing his own ginger beer that wasn’t selling, according to Haigh.

Eventually, Morgan collaborated with John Martin, a regular at the Cock’n Bull who had recently acquired Smirnoff Vodka. The Moscow mule, Haigh writes, was created as a way for Morgan and Martin to do something with their excess ginger beer and vodka, respectively, both of which were not popular in America at the time. The drink soon gained popularity in the Los Angeles area and then spread to other parts of the country.

Dion, who specializes in private bartending for weddings and has travelled across New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts, said she’s noticed a recent resurgence of Moscow mules.

“I would say that about five or six years ago people mostly did beer, wine and then your basics like vodka soda or gin and tonic,” she said. “The mule kind of came out of nowhere. But it’s definitely a classic wedding cocktail that’s very easy and refreshing. … A lot of people will say, ‘I had it at a wedding, and now I want to have it at my wedding.’”

Beyond the basics

The ginger beer, according to Pacheco, is the most fundamental ingredient found in any mule. But you can make all kinds of variations by swapping out the vodka for another type of alcohol.

If you’re using gin, for example, you’ll get a London mule, or if you’re using tequila, that will make a Mexican mule. Bourbon makes a Kentucky mule, while ginger beer with dark rum is known as a Dark ’n’ Stormy.

“Those are kind of the five general variations,” Pacheco said. “We use six different purees behind the bar, so we’ve done a blackberry Kentucky mule, with a blackberry puree, sugar, lemon juice and water. Last winter we ran a cranberry mule. … On our brunch menu, we do the Sunday morning mule, which is Stoli vodka with orange juice in it.”

Dion said she grows her own fresh herbs like basil and rosemary that she’ll sometimes use as garnishes for her mules, like a blackberry and basil mule.

“I would say it’s definitely more of a summer drink, but you add all kinds of things to sort of ‘fall’ it up, like cranberry or cinnamon sticks or whatever you want.”

Drift has made a Maine mule, which features Cold River blueberry vodka that’s muddled with a fresh blueberry puree and topped with blueberries for a garnish. Stella Blu has also done several types of mules on its cocktail menu, including a mint cucumber mule, a bing cherry puree mule, a London lime mule with Tanqueray Rangpur gin, fall-inspired mules with cider, and a honey mule with Jack Daniel’s honey whiskey and fresh-squeezed lemon.

Another honey-flavored mule can be found at the XO Bistro, on Elm Street in Manchester, known as the Bee Sting. Manager Steve Tosti said this drink features Jack Daniel’s whiskey, ginger beer and a splash of honey liqueur.

At Granite Tapas & Cocktail Lounge in Hooksett, co-owner Jamie Jordan said a Stoli salted caramel mule was recently introduced, featuring Stoli salted caramel vodka, apple cider, ginger beer and an infused simple syrup with cinnamon sticks, garnished with a caramel cinnamon rim.

One of Maillet’s favorites that has been featured at 815 is called the Nor’Easter mule. It swaps the vodka for whiskey and adds maple syrup with the lime and ginger beer. She said she’s also experimented with a Moscow mule ice cream float with vanilla ice cream, and is looking into crafting a mezcal mule with cinnamon and agave moving forward into the fall.

“The possibilities are literally endless,” she said. “You can essentially think of it as like a martini. … You have the classic cocktail and everything’s kind of derived from that.”

Featured Photo: Maine Mule from Stella Blu in Nashua. Courtesy photo.

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