Life is short. Live it!

The Blogger’s Blues

Hi Fellow Bloggers,

Thanks for hanging in with me while I took a detour into some local posts. This one is for you.

How to tell if you are a new blogger:

  1. You have a notebook in your purse. And your nightstand, your desk at work, your dining room table…. you get the point.
  2. You are open to all and any opportunities to write …about anything. Every situation you are in has you thinking, “this could be a blog post.” This potpourri of unrelated posts leads your followers to wonder if you are mildly schizophrenic.
  3. You have stopped in midsentence to rush to one of the aforementioned notebooks to write down an idea before you forget. The person you were having a conversation with is left standing alone, wondering if you are having a stroke.
  4. While getting ready for work, you have a brilliant idea. You need to write it down NOW. By the time you finish sketching out a rough draft, you realize you are late for work…and you have no pants on. (This happened to a friend, yeah, a friend.)
  5. You have found yourself staring into an open cupboard, refrigerator, drawer, etc. and have no idea how you got there. You were too busy thinking about your list of topics for next week and zoned out for an unknown period of time.
  6. The blog post you thought was brilliant got so little responses, you ask a friend to post a reply so you can check to make sure WordPress is working properly. (another friend!)

Ok, bloggers, what crazy thing have you done in the name of love, I mean blogging?


Not Your Grandma’s Cup of Tea

Tom Wigglesworth and Loren Goodknight at the Teatotaller


teas (2)One glance at the menu for the Teatotaller in Somersworth NH, promises the patron a unique experience. Menu items include Prophetic Popcorn, which promises to tell your fate, and Red Bush, an herbal tea based on a fictional adult-film squirrel turned tea connoisseur.


Emmett Soldati, owner of the Teatotaller, is also co-owner of Levin, the bakery down the street. Quite a perk for patrons, since the bread used for sandwiches is fresh from Levin, adding a homemade quality to the menu. Asked how he came up for the unique design idea for the restaurant, Soldati said, “it’s the evolution of European and British teahouse concept with modern colors.”

IMG_2402 (2)

IMG_2526 (2)
Emmett Soldati

Soldati worked with Philadelphia-based designer, Sarah Diamond, to create the interior and the menu. “Tea is a very healthy consumer product. For us, there is a much broader market.” To attract more people to the versatility of tea, they came up with a menu with personality. In addition to tea, breakfast, sandwiches and pastries are served.

Quirkiness and humor are the soup du’ jour at this restaurant. No stuffiness allowed. The uniforms, a crisp white shirt, blue and pink apron, and bow tie, add a throwback vibe to the 50’s-meets-Victorian backdrop. Small ceramic pigs are available for patrons to put on their table if they are willing to share their space. “It encourages people to meet,” Soldati said. The staff take themselves very seriously as well. General Manager, Loren Goodknight, has “Head Honcho” as the title on her business card.

The Teatotaller offers more than delicious food and ambiance. Local, independent musicians are encouraged to drop off their CDs. They will receive a discount and a chance to have their music played and their band promoted.

Fun events are held regularly as well. In June, in the spirit of Gay Pride Month, the shop teamed up with PREP, Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, to host a Guerilla Gay Café. Abigail Gronberg from PREP, hopes the event will raise awareness of the importance of clean water in our estuaries. “We want to connect more people with that resource,” she said, referring to the Salmon Falls River. She hopes that if people value and enjoy the river, it will make them want to protect it as well. Soldati noted that all the people in this area use the river for their water. “People don’t know how pure and threatened it is.”

The event included a DJ, Drag Bingo, mocktails and fortune telling. No alcohol is served at the Teatottaler, so all events are family friendly.

The Guerrilla Gay Café was created by Paul Carragher when he moved to Portsmouth from San Francisco. He was disheartened to find there were no gay bars in the Seacoast area. “Coming from San Diego, I was like…are you kidding?” The premise is to go to different venues in the area and invite the GLBT community to get together, not in one place, but all over the Seacoast. Carragher was attending the event at the Teatotaller not only for gay pride, but to support PREP. He was promoting the Great Bay Saver card. By purchasing a card, you can receive discounts at over 30 local area businesses, including 7th Settlement Brewery, Children’s Museum of NH, Isle of Shoals Steamship Company, and Tall Ship Distillery. A portion of the proceeds will go towards PREP.

What does the future hold for the Teatotaller? An online store will be launched soon, so their teas can be enjoyed beyond Somersworth. Interesting, creative programs will continue to be offered. I asked Soldati if he feels that he is creating a community. “We’re drawing out a community that is already here.”

4-H Teen Leadership Conference at UNH

There were some interesting activities going on at UNH recently. Exploring a cow’s rumen may have been the most unique. UNH hosts the annual 4-H Teen Leadership Conference, where youth from across the state come together to learn about agriculture, animal husbandry and leadership. In addition to the opportunity to get up close and personal with a cow, activities such as photography, beekeeping and self-defense were offered.

Jim Doyle is the Executive Director for the 4-H Foundation of NH. He explained the history behind the 4-H program. In 1860, the government granted a parcel of land to New Hampshire for the purpose of building a university. In return, the research done there had to benefit the people of the state. Researchers found new techniques to improve farming, but realized adults were not willing to change their traditional ways. 4-H was created to work with youth in farming communities, who were more accepting of new methods.

The Co-op was created by the USDA in 1914. Today it is the parent organization to 4-H in NH. “UNH has outstanding educational and recreational facilities that I think really help facilitate a great conference on many different levels. From educational activities, to just plain fun, there’s really quite a bit that can be done here at UNH,” Doyle said.

Emily Gibson, who just graduated from Oyster River High School, was a leader at the conference for the second year in row. Gibson cites interviewing and leadership skills as well as her love of animals as her reasons for embracing 4-H. “I’m 4th generation 4-H and 3rd generation sheep (owner). I’ve been in a barn since I was born.”  And she’s in a barn today. More specifically, her grandparents’ barn. Sally and Dwight Barney keep Gibson’s sheep alongside their own. They too, are 4-H alumni. In fact, we had to pull Dwight away from feeding the sheep for a picture.emily3

Gibson was voted in by her peers as a leader at the Teen Conference for the last two years. She said they began preparing for this year’s conference last August. Over 40 sessions were available for students to choose from. Gibson enjoyed the Leather Craft session and proudly showed off the personalized belt she made.

Gibson will be busy showing her sheep at events this summer before she starts college this fall. Not surprisingly, she will be majoring in veterinary science at UNH. She hopes to become a large animal veterinarian or pathologist. She will continue to participate in 4-H as a volunteer.

Katelyn Yazinka attended the leadership conference for the first time. She was one of the brave souls to feel around inside a live cow. “It was uncomfortably warm. She had a contraction and it squeezed my arm,” Yazinka said. Learning about proteins and amino acids in the digestive system can help when dealing with cattle. “I will have a better understanding when my cows have digestive issues.” Yazinka believes that having a 4-H background will help her when it comes time to apply to college. “People who know 4-H know what 4-H can produce in a person.”katelyn

Both ladies will be showing their animals at Stratham Fair next week. Yazinka looks forward to her future in the program. She hopes to work at the county level and become a representative. In November, she will be going to Georgia for the National Congress 4-H Delegates.

Closing ceremony at 4-H Teen Leadership Conference

Find out more about the NH 4-H program.




I’m Just Waiting

Tick Tock

I’m not a patient person. I’m not. You can ask anyone in my family, but specifically my mother or my husband. Or my sister. And also my friends and co-workers. Ok, so anyone who has ever met me knows I’m impatient. I own it and apologize for it… frequently.


So what did I decide to embark on? The wonderful world of freelance! Brilliant decision on my part. I clearly thought this through. I’m quite sure if you look up the definition of freelance, it simply says, “one who waits.”

In the freelance world, a writer writes and pitches several stories to different publications. Then she checks her email approximately 14 times a day to see if anyone has responded, hopefully with an acceptance. I’d love to go into more detail about what that looks like but currently my email looks like this:


Is that the saddest thing you’ve ever seen?

Remember in A Beautiful Mind, Russell Crowe’s character keeps stuffing “highly classified” documents into a mailbox no one has opened in decades? I can relate.

Currently, I am waiting to hear back from 2 online magazines, a print magazine, a newspaper and a poetry contest. The partridge in a pear tree flew out the window. Even he didn’t want to be seen on my social tab. At this point, I’d be happy if my mom would email me.

That’s alright thought. It will be that much sweeter when I get my first byline. Until then, I’ll be here. Waiting. Maybe while I wait I should check my email one more time. You know, just in case.

It Takes a Village

cropgirls (2)

Several years ago, my husband and I became foster parents. Many other parents in the foster program would yammer on about how rewarding it was to be a foster parent. They talked about the joy of helping a child in need. Do you know what I thought it was to be a foster parent? HARD! It was the most physically exhausting, mentally challenging and completely draining thing I have undertaken in my life.

Am I glad I did it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Not on your life. Going from no children in your house to two siblings under 7, whose main hobby is fighting with each other, is a daunting task to say the least. We only had “our girls” for a short time. However, we still see them regularly. It is amazing to see the young ladies they have become. They are both doing well in school and the older one will be starting high school in the fall.

They are fortunate. They were adopted by a family member who appreciates that we still want to be a part of their lives. Their grandmother is an amazing woman who put aside all of her own plans and needs to take care of these girls. She is the reason they are polite. She is the reason they can read and do math. She is the reason they feel safe and wanted every single day. She is largely responsible for the lovely, strong, intelligent women they are becoming.

I am pleased to be a tiny part of who they are. My husband and I have been able to teach them a few life lessons as well: how a loving couple treat each other, how to show respect, how strangers are willing to help people by sharing their home and their hearts, and how some people can be depended on. Forever.

If you know a foster parent, grandparent, aunt or brother  who has helped raise a child, let them know they matter. More grandparents and family members are raising children than ever before. Offer to babysit, carpool or listen to their struggles. They are superheroes but even superheroes need a sidekick now and then.

Art & Friendship

mom (2)
Mom with her artwork

Over 10 years ago, my mom saw an ad in the paper for art lessons being offered at the local high school. She asked her friend and neighbor, Dawn Lapierre, if she wanted to go. They were delighted when they got to class and saw two familiar faces, Carol and Gale Bailey, also from the neighborhood.  The ladies enjoyed taking the watercolor classes together until the instructor moved away and the class was cancelled.

Not to be deterred, Dawn asked the art teacher at the grade school she worked at if she would teach them. The art teacher, Mary, agreed and rented space in town to teach the class. Eventually, the cost of the lease increased and Mary could no longer afford it. Mom offered her basement as a studio space and the classes continued. These ladies would not be stopped. Even after Mary could no longer teach, they stayed together. They all painted the same picture so they could help one another.


Dawn’s artwork. Dawn and Mom chat while they work.

Every Tuesday from 4-6pm, this group still meets in Mom’s basement for creativity and conversation. Oh yes, and Mom’s famous desserts. My mom is a fabulous cook and her desserts have enticed people for decades. I asked her why she thinks her painting group has stayed together for so long. “We have fun.” I asked her if she thinks it has anything to do with the decadent treats. “They like it,” she replied.

When asked what she most enjoys about painting, she said, “it’s kind of peaceful, until I get to a point where I don’t know how to do it. Then it’s very stressful,”she said with a chuckle. At this point, Dawn arrived and pulled out some recent artwork. I asked her what she liked best about getting together with the group. “Your mother’s desserts!” she said, not missing a beat. “We have a really good time. We don’t always paint. Sometimes, we just talk. Our friendship and camaraderie is the best part.”

Mom’s cherry cheesecakes

They must be doing something right. Not only is their group up to seven, but Mary, the former instructor came back to join the fun. And let’s be serious, the desserts.

Dawn, Mom (Mary Smith), Elizabeth Gaudette and Martha Wright take a break while Kayzar the wonderdog looks on.

R is for Results



I had an interesting discussion with a friend this week. We were talking about how much effort people put into things that yield little results. When we go over it in our minds, the tasks we complete are Herculean. Yet we rarely seem to think ahead to how much all this work will reward us when we are done. In our heads, we calculate all the intense effort and brainpower we used to complete such a task. Then we are incredibly defeated when we don’t get good results from all that hard work.

I saw this many times when I was a real estate agent. A recurring discussion about a seller’s house value would go something like this:

Me: The market value for your home is $250,000.

Seller: (outraged) That can’t be. I put so much work into the house. Just last year I tore down an old section in the basement and rebuilt it with my bare hands. I had to go to Home Depot five times. My uncle flew in from Florida to help me and his plane was delayed. I had to go to the airport to pick him up. On the way home we ran out of gas. And it was raining. But we finally got the basement done.

Me: Wow, that was quite an ordeal. Let me recheck the figures. The market value of your home is $250,000.

OPEN-HOUSE-ICON-64X64-300pxWhat the home owner didn’t think of, and what I forgot, was that value to you doesn’t mean value to someone else. And hard work, contrary to the popular saying, doesn’t always pay off. When the seller was working on his basement, he wanted to enjoy a new basement. If he had thought about what result he really wanted, to increase his property value, he would have updated the kitchen or added a new bathroom.

This discussion with my friend about results made me look at a lot of things in a different light: how I do things at work, how I plan my writing, how I do projects around the house. I spend a lot of time doing things that don’t contribute to any results for a simple reason. I don’t know what result I want before I start. The idea of planning an intended result is novel and well… now, obvious. I look forward to trying this new brainchild out immediately.

I am starting with my blog. I am going to narrow my focus down to a few topics and try writing pieces that fall within those categories. My goal results are to find my niche, to find my readers and to make meaningful posts for those people. Aren’t aha moments great?

What have you spent a lot of time on that didn’t get the results you hoped for?


The Friday Five: The Best Books You’ve Never Read

I love to read. Sometimes to the detriment of life going on around me. With my nose in a book, there is nothing else. No housework, no yard work, no laundry. Certainly no time. Everything just disappears into the story, the characters, the conflict. Isn’t that why we read? To get lost in the fantasy?

While I love books, once I’ve read the story, I feel it’s time to move on. That’s why I enjoy used book stores so much. You just trade in one story for another. I rarely keep my books.  Of course, there are always exceptions. The following books have held a permanent space on my bookshelf for years, some for decades. They are tenured, so to speak. They aren’t going anywhere. They have their own parking spot and everything.

These are the best of the best out of the thousands of books I have read over my lifetime. In fact, I think  I might just read them all again this summer, for the third, fourth or fifth time. I savor each page, each relationship, each town. I hope you enjoy them too. Just don’t ask to borrow my copy. I will kindly direct you to the nearest bookstore or


  1. My Love Affair with The State of Maine by Scotty Mackenzie  

Scotty Mackenzie saw enough people in her hometown of New York City succumb to the stresses of living in the city. She quits her job and goes to Maine with a colleague while she decides what to do with the rest of her life. She and Dorothy are northeast bound, where Dorothy has a summer home. Goose Rocks, Maine casts its spell on the two city girls. They buy the town store, having no idea what Goose Rocks or the people who live there will come to mean to them. This true story from the 1940’s will make you nostalgic for the “good ole days.” It will also remind you why the signs just across the border say “Welcome to Maine The Way Life Should Be”Playing_Cards_Boxed_Poker_21-8645

2. The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

Jane was a student at the Heart Lake School for Girls. In her senior year, her closest friends had all died. Was it truly suicide or was foul play involved? Twenty years later, Jane returns to the school as a Latin teacher. Her new role there is complicated and she struggles to navigate relationships with her students. When a page from her diary from her time there as a student gets left on her desk, she fears the unfinished past is coming back for her. The fact that her students go by Latin names like Athena and Aphrodite only adds to the sensual element of the story. You will be turning pages as fast as you can when deaths of students begin again. Will Jane be able to stop it this time around?

3. If Wishes Were Horses by Loretta Gage, D.V.M.

In her mid-thirties, Loretta Gage became the oldest women in the incoming class of Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Unless you have actually been to veterinary school, you won’t get a better look at the life of a vet student. The isolation, extreme exhaustion and emotional and physical toll will come through clearly, until you feel it yourself. You will go through her ups and downs with her, wonder if she should continue, and ask yourself if you could do it. If you know anyone thinking of become a veterinarian, give them this book. If you have ever loved an animal or wondered how much one person can persevere, buy it for yourself. (Disclaimer: have tissues handy.)


4. Home Waters by Joseph Monninger

When Joseph is forced to face his best friend’s mortality, he thinks about the bond they have shared. Nellie, his 11-year-old Golden Retriever, may not have a lot of time left. So what is Joseph’s solution? Road trip! A fly-fishing enthusiast, he decides to take Nellie on the trip of her life. This trip is as much for Joseph as it is for Nellie. These two will remind you of the  incredible love between people and their pets. And why life with furry family members is worth the sadness that comes when they leave us. While you may be wary of this read, I promise you that you will smile more than you are sad. It isn’t the story of Nellie’s death. It is the story of her life.

5. The Cliff Walk by Don J Snyder

English Professor Don Snyder had a large, young family to provide for when he lost his job at Colgate University. Thinking that the luck he had his whole life, along with his accomplishments (football scholarship, fellowship, published author) would land him an even better job, he didn’t worry. A year later, still unemployed, he’s not so sure. He went from being the privileged to working for the privileged, when he finally gets a job…in construction. In Maine. In the winter. I have never been so angry at a person I never met. He was not getting his act together quickly enough for my liking. It wasn’t until the end of the book that I realized that Don lost much more than his job. He lost his identity. And sometimes you truly have to hit rock bottom before you can rebuild your life.

I have never looked at these books together before. When I went through them while writing this post, I realized a couple of things for the first time. Three of the authors are residents of Maine and NH. Go New England! And 4 of my top 5 reads are non-fiction. While I write non-fiction, I always thought of myself as a fiction lover first. Well, I’ll be damned! Quite the epiphany.

What are your all time favorite books? Do you still have a them?



Friday Five: Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?


The “Duke”



We live in an era of talentless twits. Justin Bieber, you are not a tough guy because you act like a spoiled child and have bodyguards protect you from what is rightfully yours: a punch in the nose. And don’t even get me started on the Kardashians. There are talented, intelligent people in the world. Why are these people famous?

It makes me feel better to know that at one time, real men played the lead and earned adoration. It makes me think that maybe one day that will happen again.  Just imagine, no more reality shows where stupidity and greed are the prerequisites of the job. Instead, talent, experience and yes, rugged good looks make the man. (I’m only human.) In that spirit, I take you back to a time where you knew immediately who the good guys were. You knew who the bad guys were. The good guys always won and always got the girl. Here are the top five tough guys of all time.

5. Wyatt Earp was famous for his role in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He was the strapping hero riding in on horseback to save the town from evil-doers. According to Wikipedia, Earp’s career included such upstanding jobs as bouncer, brothel keeper and buffalo hunter. Of course he was most famous for being the Marshall in Tombstone, Arizona. While he enforced the law, he was known to bend it in gambling and boxing arenas if it helped put money in his pocket. Regardless of his wrongdoings, it’s hard not to like someone who took out those who terrorized the town. Especially if that town’s name was Tombstone.

4. Henry Fonda – Several movies were made about Wyatt Earp’s life. Many larger than life actors played Earp: Burt Lancaster, James Garner and Kurt Russell. No one portrayed the tough guy better than Henry Fonda. If you have only seen the kind and slightly confused Norman Thayer that Fonda played in his golden years, check out My Darling Clementine.

3. Jack Palance – In 1992, at the age of 73, Jack Palance won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for playing Curly in City Slickers. During his acceptance speech, he talked about aging in Hollywood. He said that just because people get older, it doesn’t mean they can’t do the things they used to. To prove his point, he did a series of one-armed pushups. Women all over America swooned.

2. Clint Eastwood – In the Dirty Harry movies, Eastwood plays Harry Callahan, a vigilante cop who took criminals off the street. Not in handcuffs, but with the bullet of a Smith and Wesson .44 magnum. The long barrel of the gun showed viewers just how tough this tough guy was. The .44 magnum became famous as did the lines he said with his trademark snarl. “…you gotta ask yourself, do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?” And the memorable, “go ahead, make my day.” Eastwood just turned 86. Palance lived to be 87. That alone shows True Grit.

1. John Wayne – The 6’4″ actor with the baby blues and the easy drawl was loved by women and respected by men. He was the quintessential cowboy. He starred in over 200 movies. While he often played a war hero, he will always be remembered as a gunslinger. John Wayne is the epitome of “a man’s man.” Not bad for a guy whose real name was Marion.

Did I miss anyone? Let me know. Do you think we have tough guys in todays movies?

The picture of John Wayne is a sketch done by an amazing NH artist. His name is Li Ming. Check out his website.

Blog at

Up ↑