• Ski and Snowboard Fun at Waterville & Cannon

    Becca Snowboarder headed down Cannon Mountain’s Middle Ravine Trail. Cannon Mountain’s snow making improvements have produced a lot of white stuff! That’s the Peabody Lodge down below and behind it is the round bare top of Bald Mountain west of Artist’s Bluff.

    -NH Slopes Are Wide Open!

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

    Skiing and Snowboarding with friends and family is a wonderful way to enjoy season. Time spent together on chairlifts and enjoying the snow blanketed trails will make a lifetime of lasting memories.
    If you don’t know how to ski or snowboard please sign-up for a program at your local resort. They want you to learn and they offer affordable and enticing offers including everything you need—rental equipment, lift ticket and lessons. Check out SkiNH.com Learn to Ski/Ride Deals. If that still doesn’t appeal to you than you can always have fun snow-tubing.

    New Hampshire resorts have been blowing snow, grooming it out and spinning their lifts since Thanksgiving. After every cold night of snow making more trails open. I am betting by Christmas resorts will be boasting near 100% coverage. I hope Mother Nature kicks in more snow soon too.

    On top of the world at Waterville Valley! Visit online Waterville.com and SkiNH.com for current ski and snowboard conditions

    Last Thursday morning I met up with a friend for a couple of hours of skiing at Waterville Valley. We arrived at the lodge early so we would be ready to ride the first chair when the lifts opened.
    At the ticket booth we presented our lift ticket vouchers, purchased on-line the previous day. Pre-buying your lift ticket ahead of time at the resort’s website can save you money. Additionally we had to pay $5 for the new RFID pass. If we returned the card at the end of the day our $5 would be returned but if we chose to keep it we can reload them on-line and avoid the ticket booth our next visit.

    Look at that nice snow! Waterville Valley Resort’s White Caps Trail has a splendid big view of nearby Mount Osceola! New this season at Waterville Valley is the improved New Learner’s Area with two new carpet lifts replacing the original J-bar.
    Skiing with friends is fun! Learning to ski better makes it more fun. Yours truly, Barb and Bria on the trails at Bretton Woods working on our turns.

    Waterville Valley (as well as Mount Sunapee and Gunstock) installed new RFID lift ticket systems. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags (lift ticket) that are attached to objects (Snowsport enthusiasts). All we had to do was pop the card in our jacket pocket and the reader would find it.
    I have had experience using these types of lift tickets before at large resorts out West and at Stowe, VT, where the lift line passes through a gate that is opened when a valid card is read. Waterville’s system is different because it has a gateless entry. The cards appear to be read while we were on the chairlift and those attempting theft of services will be apprehended at the top of the lift. The advantages are that the lift line moves smoothly, monitoring of tickets is continuous and poachers are going to get caught.
    The trails were covered with great snow and it was easy to turn my skis on the freshly groomed loose granular snow. The day was lovely with clear views to all the mountains near and those far away. The Waterville Academy set up a slalom course on one side of Tommy’s World Cup Run but we had plenty of room to enjoy the trail too.
    We skied non-stop for just over two hours and completed 10 runs off the White Peaks Express quad-chair. I confess I was ready to take a break after 7 runs but with our limited time I was convinced to keep skiing. I still dreamed of having a hot chocolate in the mountain top Schwendi Hutte.
    When our time was up we hustled into the lodge to grab an early lunch in the cafeteria before packing up and heading to work. We ate ski area comfort food at its finest, fries, chicken tenders and hot chocolate! It was yummy. But I will go back later this season and get my hot chocolate in the Hutte.

    Mount Lafayette on the other side of Franconia Notch and a Cannon Mountain skier near the top of Avalanche. Snowsports are alive and well in New Hampshire and the season is off to a great start.

    On Saturday, I met Becca Snowboarder at Cannon Mountain. At 7:45am I pulled into the parking lot and ended up parking right next to her, talk about good timing. Becca bought a season pass earlier this season at the best NH resident discounted price. I bet she doesn’t miss any Saturday mornings.
    The previous year’s five-million dollars investment at Cannon Mountain for snowmaking improvements continues to reap benefits. The mountain is able to make twice as much snow with half the energy and this season an additional 250 thousand dollars were made for snowmaking upgrades. Cannon’s investment and increased efforts to make snow are really obvious and have produced super results! On their opening day the summit was open; Cannon made snow for runs from top to bottom.
    Cannon and Franconia Notch had a nice gift of 2 to 5 inches of fluffy white snow earlier in the week. The Notch’s nearby peaks had frosted white tops but the floor of the notch had some snow too. While we were at the ski area, my husband Charlie took out his most beat up pair of cross country skis and was able to kick and glide on the bicycle path from the Tram to the Lafayette Place Campground. It wasn’t ideal but he had fun.
    Becca and I joined the lift line with all the other excited skiers and snowboarders. Cannon has a well-earned reputation for having one of the larger first run seeking crowds.
    We rode the Peabody Express quad-chair round and round while most zoomed right over to ride the Cannonball to the summit. The dramatic views of Mount Lafayette and the Franconia Range were outstanding while we had By-Pass to Cannon Trails nearly all to ourselves for several runs in a row. You could have fooled me this wasn’t mid-winter.
    Good snow and lots of trails made for a fun time. Being on the summit of Cannon is always nice and Tramway and Upper Cannon Trails were covered with snow edge to edge. Rocket and Gary’s were open too and snow guns were blasting on other trails.
    The season is off to a good start and it is just going to keep getting better. Don’t forget to get your team together for your favorite adult race league! Sign-ups are happening now and if you can’t find a team contact the race program and they’ll help you find some teammates.
    I am all set to race Monday nights at Pats Peak.
    Whoohoo winter!
    Have fun.


  • Hey Bungalow Bill

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    One of the lesser works on 1968’s The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) was The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, a song mocking an American who went on a tiger hunt during a spiritual retreat in India. The Beatles had been part of that retreat, and John Lennon found mixing hunting with spiritualism discordant.
    One can imagine Lennon’s song-writing reaction to President Trump’s reversal of an Obama-era ruling making it virtually impossible to import some big game trophies from certain African countries. Though Trump reinstated the original ban last week, the caterwauling media – both main stream and social – made two things clear: This is an emotional issue, and few understand the connection between conservation and capitalism.
    Hunting is a proven conservation technique, here and in Africa. While populations of elephants, lions, and other trophy-worthy African wildlife are dwindling in some countries due to poor land management, bad government, tribal traditions, and illegal poaching, in other countries the business of big-game hunting has helped to increase such populations. But after the Cecil the Lion incident a few years ago, journalists know they can tap a rich vein of emotion when reporting these stories. In the Trump era, journalists prefer emotion over facts.
    At Fox News, Army veteran and former military intelligence analyst Brett Velicovich denigrated trophy hunting, employing class-warfare rhetoric and sounding every bit like the antifa morons committing mindless violence on college campuses. America has been poorly served by our intel community in part because of “analysis” like this. Velicovich used Zimbabwe as his springboard to attack those who believe that hunting is a valid part of conservation efforts. Yes, Zimbabwe has been a political mess, bad for man and beast under the rule of its 93-year-old dictator, Mugabe. But other African nations have demonstrated tremendous successes, and last week Mugabe was removed from power. I hope current intel analysts saw that coming.
    For those who prefer facts over sentiment in their analysis, the reasons to support African trophy hunting are compelling. Even left-of-center media outlets have made the case. In 2010, The Economist reported that “Governments have mostly failed to protect Africa’s wildlife. But other models— involving hunters, rich conservationists and local farmers—are showing promise.” The article pointed to economic and social problems in Africa – not rich American hunters – as the primary reasons behind declining big game populations in some countries. To protect endangered species, “The first step is plain economics: a recognition that the wild has to pay its way.”
    The BBC – no part of the vast right-wing conspiracy – published a piece in 2015 pointing out that with big game hunting, “the nuances of this story are too complicated to be understood by a generation raised on films like the Lion King, and the resultant Walt Disney sentimentality towards Africa’s wildlife, and who are all too eager to tweet their disapproval.” In the real world, the “Circle of Life” isn’t a poignant song; it’s bloody and brutal. It’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, not a cute cartoon.
    Are big game hunters the callow cad immortalized by the Beatles? No. In 2006, a researcher in Kenya found that eighty-six percent of hunters interviewed for a study said they preferred hunting in areas where a portion of proceeds went to local communities. Nearly fifty percent indicated they’d be willing “to pay an equivalent price for a poorer trophy if it was a problem animal that would have had to be killed anyway.”
    Even CBS’s 60 Minutes managed to air a balanced segment in 2012 focused on the rise of African game hunting in Texas. “How did thousands of Texas ranches become home to the largest population of exotic animals on earth? It’s thanks to trophy hunters like Paul.” The opposing view was presented by the delightfully-named Priscilla Feral, president of an international animal rights group. Despite carefully-managed and growing populations, she doesn’t “want to see [exotic animals] on hunting ranches. I don’t want to see them dismembered. I don’t want to see their value in body parts.” One can only wonder what she thinks about the legal practice of killing a viable human fetus in the womb by dismembering it.
    National Geographic reported in 2007 that “southern white rhinoceros grew from just 50 animals a century ago to over 11,000 wild individuals today, because hunts gave game ranchers a financial incentive to reintroduce the animal.” The World Wildlife Fund pegs the current population at more than 20,000. That’s conservation capitalism in action. It’s a shame this complex issue became just another excuse to bash President Trump. The animals deserve better.

    Ken’s email is kengorrell@gmail.com


  • First Runs at Bretton Woods

    Yours truly and Becca Munroe enjoying the snow on the Range View Trail at Bretton Woods’ opening day. Brettton Woods was the first resort in New Hampshire to open for skiing and snowboarding this season.

    By Amy PatenaudeSki/Outdoor Writer

    A couple weeks ago I made it up for Bretton Woods’ opening day to ski. Bretton Woods enjoys a surprise and gives short notice when they’re opening for the season, usually just less than 24 hours.  As soon as they can get us on the mountain they do it.  When the temperature drops the snow guns start blasting and I know it is time to keep my eye on social media. I checked my email a little more often too.

    A young skier carves a turn on the snow. From Bretton Woods’ slopes big views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range can be seen.
    Riding the lift at Bretton Woods.
    Donated food piled near the ticket window at Bretton Woods. Omni Hotels & Resorts “Say Goodnight to Hunger” program supports local food banks and pantries. Skiers and Snowboarders donated food and were given an opening day lift ticket at Bretton Woods.

    Since the temperatures dropped quickly, I wasn’t caught off guard this year when I saw their mid-afternoon Facebook post in bright big red letters “Open Tomorrow.” In my inbox there was an email from the resort that read, “Open Friday, November 10th from 1 -4 pm”.  The price of the lift ticket was a donation of non-perishable food. The annual opening day food drive is part of the Omni Resorts “Say Goodnight to Hunger” campaign that supports local food banks and pantries.

    I arrived at the ski area a little after 2pm.  By the look of the big pile of food next to the ticket booth the skiers and riders had been generous.  I stacked my cans on top of the others and with a lift ticket attached to my coat I hurried out to make my first run of the season.

    My friend Becca received my text that I had arrived. She beat me to the slopes and had taken one run on her snowboard and was now waiting for me in front of the lodge.  We rode up the Zephyr high-speed quad chair. Brrrh, it was cold out, only 16 degrees. We were both bundled up tight and we pulled our neck gaiters up high to protect our faces from the snow that was exploding out of the snow guns.  At the top I stood up from the chair and let gravity take me away from the lift—Weee I am skiing!  I joked, “What run should we take?” The punchline, “The open one!”

    All the snow guns were blasting adding more snow to the Range View Trail as we skied and snowboarded down the mountain.  To keep my goggles from icing I learned quickly to keep my face turned away from the snow guns.  Hands in front, shifting my weight from ski to ski, big turns and quick turns and I let gravity take me down the slope fast.  I stopped half way down the trail. I turned back up the hill and watched Becca turn her snowboard and slide down to meet me.  We both laughed and told each other how glad we were that we made it!   We both were excited to be out for the first time this season. I felt full of joy to be outside skiing on the snow. Yeah Winter.

    Becca on her snowboard heading down the Range View Trail while the snow guns of Bretton Woods blast more snow on the trail. Mount Deception is the mountain looming in the distance–it is named Deception because the 3,600’ mountain looks really near but it is deceptively far away.

    Mother Nature gave us a good inch of snow the previous night and the view down to red roofed Mount Washington Hotel was surrounded by its white golf course that was no longer green.   Bretton Woods stayed open for rest of the weekend and Veterans skied for free and there was a lift ticket special of just $25 to ski.

    I returned on Sunday and enjoyed the much warmer day, nearly 32 degrees, a beautifully groomed slope and a sunny mountain vista. No snow was being blown on Range View, it was covered edge to edge with deep wonderful snow. The snow guns were blasting all over the upper trails and more trails and lifts will be open. Congratulations to Bretton Woods for being the first resort to open in New Hampshire this season.

    More New Hampshire resorts are open this week. Loon, Cannon, Waterville Valley, Cranmore all announced plans to be open by the time you’re reading this.  Please check SkiNH.com for your favorite mountain’s snow conditions report before heading off to hit the slopes.   Have Fun!

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send  comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.


  • Wet Waterville Valley Walking

    Yours truly in the wet foggy forest on the Snows Mountain Trail in Waterville Valley.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    We met at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Campton just off of Interstate 93’s exit 49 because we had not decided where we were going to hike. Danielle and Amanda were already inside when I arrived. After grabbing a coffee and looking at the maps we made our decision. We’d drive to Snows Mountain in Waterville Valley and wing it from there.
    New Hampshire was hit hard by the Halloween tropical storm that dumped heavy rain and whipped the trees. Thousands lost power, flood damaged and closed roads and hiking trails were hit hard too. We didn’t know what we would find but we hoped by staying at lower elevations and away from raging brooks we’d increase the odds that the trails would be passable.

    Nothing to see here folks! Amanda and Danielle on the Snows Mountain lookout, misty rain, fog and clouds made it a day to look at the things that were near and not far away.

    From the base of Snows Mountain we headed up the Cascade Path and turned on the Elephant Rock Trail. The trail was covered with leaves and we tossed a lot of sticks and branches off the trail as we headed to the top of the Snow Mountain chairlift. Oh yeah, the rock, it doesn’t look like an elephant. The tree that made up its trunk is long gone.
    The clouds were thick and we didn’t see any mountain views only threatening skies all around us.
    We continued on the Greeley Ledge Trail and it was no great loss that it was cloudy since the ledge has no open vista. A three inch diameter tree at chest high was across the trial. I whipped out my folding saw and we made quick work of its removal.
    At the intersection of the Snows Mountain Trail we went left but when we looked right there was a mess of tangled trees blocking the trail. We’d deal with that later maybe.
    As we hiked higher into the fog the forest looked spooky. We made our way up to the spur path to its no-view-today view point. On our way down we did enjoy a blurry sight of the Waterville Town Square below through swirling clouds from a cut opening along the trail. The fog traded places off and on with light rain.
    We tossed sticks and limbs and cleaned out a water bar to help the water off the trail but we were happy to find the trail in decent condition.

    Danielle demonstrates she is willing to lend a hand with her folding saw! The Waterville Valley Athletic and Improvement Association (WVAIA), the outdoors club of Waterville Valley, maintains nearly 23 miles of trails in the White Mountain National Forest. The Association does a great work maintaining the trails and organizing activities. Please visit their website at WVAIA to learn more about their trails and the Association.

     

    Amanda and Danielle on the Yellow Jacket Trail. Pines Flats, Yellow Jacket and Tri-Town Trails make a nice loop for hiking. The trails are multi-use trails; hikers, mountain bikers and in the winter cross country skiers enjoy them too. Smarts Brook is lovely and short walk up the Pine Flats Trail will lead you to a lovely gorge.

    At this point the southern terminus of the Snows Mountain Trail dumps you out in the driveway of a private home. We walked up the road and went up the ski trail until we reached the large Forest Service sign for Snows Mountain Trail. Please note that no cars are to be parked in the private neighborhood, parking is at the base of Snows Mountain only.
    We headed up the trail through the forest and tossed more sticks and limbs until we reached the tangle mess we saw earlier near the trail intersection. We went to work with our folding saws, our tiny folding saws! These were big trees. We were able to cut and remove a couple trees and the branches until all that was left was a couple of easy step-overs. We retraced our way back to the ski trail.
    Since it was just misty rain we headed back up the Cascade Path and did a quick out and back on the Boulder Path. The giant boulder sitting in the middle of Slide Brook was surrounded by high fast flowing water. Danielle and Amanda would have to come back another day to get the short section of the trail on the other side from Livermore Road.
    There were a few big trees across the cross country ski trail where the trails overlap. But I am sure the Nordic Center is aware because we could see that they had been out clearing water bars on the trail.
    Back at the car we pulled out the map, the new map that accompanies the 30th edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide. We noticed the short trails near the beginning of the Smarts Brook Trail. I read the trail descriptions and the guide reported that there was a bridge crossing the brook so we could make a 3-mile loop and not drown.
    There were no other cars in the Smarts Brook Trail parking area but that was no surprise because of the wet weather forecast. It was mid-day, it was still misty rainy and we were still happy to be out walking.
    We headed up the Pine Flats Trail that leaves right from the parking area. This is a pine-rooty trail along Smarts Brook and it passes along a lovely deep ledgy gorge.
    We turned right on the Yellow Jacket Trail and it started to rain lightly and get darker. The trail was wetter and there were a handful of small bridges over small streams. The trail rejoined the bank of the roaring Smarts Brook. We were extremely happy to see that the storm had done no damage to the bridge that would take us over the brook and to the Smarts Brook Trail. We turned right and in a short distance we turned left on to the Tri-Town Trail.
    The light rain turned into a downpour. Danielle and I uselessly rushed to put on our rain jackets. Amanda didn’t. She left her wet coat back at the car and we decided the rain was her fault. That last mile felt like the longest mile of the day. Drenched we marched on and climbed over several rather large trees that will need a big chainsaw to be removed.

    A good view upstream at Smarts Brook between the trailheads of Pine Flats and Smarts Brook Trail, right on Route 49 in Thornton. Danielle takes her Tibetan prayer flags with her on every hike and she places them on a summit or a lovely place in remembrance of a hiking friend that left us too early. She returns the flags into the pocket of her backpack and shares the photo of the flags with family and friends.

    Tri-Town Trail -what three towns did this trail cross? We guessed Sandwich, Campton and Thornton. I knew the trailhead was in Thornton and maybe on the Pine Flats and or Yellow Jacket Trails we crossed into Waterville Valley. So were the three towns included Waterville Valley using the other trails? (I checked a map at home and it looks like the Tri-Town Trail is in Sandwich and Thornton only).
    The trail finished back on the Smarts Brooks Trail and at the end of the trail, on the edge of the highway bridge there is a nice view up the brook and up the highway across to Welch Mountain. We stood there a few minutes soaking in the view.
    Soon it will be snowing! Have fun.

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.


  • Colonists & Indians -A Historian’s View Of NH In 1871

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    “Out with the old and in with the new” says the old New Year’s adage with much that is reasonable behind it.
    It is not always wise to be rid of the old, however, and that includes old books. I almost passed on the opportunity to read from a book published in 1871 that I found in the local library titled “The Merrimack River” until I discovered that it was as much about the people and events that could somehow be connected to the river as about the river and its tributaries. The author, J.W. Meader, presents a view of New Hampshire, from his perspective, of a New Hampshire we never knew because we weren’t here.
    Of the Merrimack River Meader contends “As a great natural feature, the Merrimack…surpasses all others in the harmonious blending of the useful and the beautiful…, it is from its source to its mouth, literally a vast system of mill-privileges with excellent water power, materials and conveniences for dams, and an ample and unfailing supply of water. The amount of manufacturing along this stream is not equaled by that of any other river in the world… ”.
    Concerning the early settlers, the Puritans, Meader expresses the opinion that they left the old country because they were unable to persuade their countrymen to believe as they did, not because they were the victims of religious intolerance and became the religious intolerant when they settled in America. Both opinions are probably true; they were both victims and perpetrators of intolerant behavior.
    Rev. John Wheelwright and his flock, who bought land from the Piscataqua River to the Merrimack River from the Indian Chief Passaconaway and his association of chiefs, after banishment by the Puritans, went “to the wilds of New Hampshire” and settled in Exeter with his followers. Here, says Meader, they established “…the first genuine democratic form of government ever established in America.”
    The prominence of witchcraft in New Hampshire as well as Massachusetts in the latter half of the sixteen hundreds was viewed as a “delusion” by author Meader, though supposed witches in New Hampshire suffered the consequences, though not as severely as in the neighboring State. Meader had much to say about the life and acts of the Indians, indicating that when the white man discovered the Merrimack he found a prize, a prize with “dusky barbarians” on it in “primitive canoes”. He said “ Here on this river’s brink, civilization and barbarism met, – light and darkness, – day and night struggling for the mastery; and who could doubt the result?”
    And “Civilization found this beautiful river…”. Opinions like that may sound discriminatory, but they also help us to understand the thoughts behind people’s actions and reactions. Those called “stalwart and hardy pioneers” were also the “exterminators” of the red man. But the native inhabitant of New Hampshire did not leave without a fight, even though many may not realize how perilous it was in New Hampshire, when the Indian feared extermination and the pale-face feared the death-dealing raids of the Indians. When much of the land above Concord was “unexplored and entirely unknown” by the white man the native Americans gathered around New Hampshire’s big lake and at other locations surely not realizing that in the coming days both they and the colonists would both be fighting for their survival. The not so long ago historian (1871) drew a picture in words of the white man struggling for survival in the wild country of New Hampshire inhabited by wolves, bears, wildcats, moose, and deer, along with the American Indians, who, if there were more of them and they were better organized the progress made by the colonists would “…have been greatly impeded, if not altogether stopped.”
    The people of the tribes “would often swoop down upon the scattered settlements as swift, sudden, and unexpected as the hawk, …..families awoke at the dead of night to hear the fearful war-whoop, to see their homes enveloped in flames, and the deadly tomahawk and the dreaded scalping knife gleam in the light of the burning building.” But the white man fought with his own determined and savage acts of violence against the Indian. “A price was set upon his toplock the same as on the wolf, and other wild animals, only much higher, and the more daring and adventuresome among the population turned their attention to the hunting and scalping of Indians.”
    The most famous of the Indian hunters was said to have been a Captain Lovewell of Dunstable, who gained particular notoriety for capturing a group of ten Indians in what is now the town of Wakefield and marching into Boston with their scalps on poles, only to lose his own life in another hunting venture.
    The stories of cowboys and Indians in the western parts of the United States are probably better known to New Hampshire residents than the conflict between colonists and Indians in our own localities as immigrants from across the sea and began a new nation. In his book about the Merrimack River, Mr. Meader tells some of their stories. I should point out that book writer Meader also wrote that “…the North American Indian possesses, and often displays, in his nobler nature, those higher excellences and sublime qualities which adorn and embellish the human character.” The result of the conflicts between the Colonists and the Indians the Indian was that for the most part the Indians were “out” and the Colonists were “in”.
    “ The Merrimack River” is a book about other people who came to New Hampshire, including Shakers and Quakers, Presbyterians and Catholics, and others along with information about the scenery, landscape, and wildlife of New Hampshire while including developments along the Merrimack. Books like this, though full of a writer’s biases, as are many of today’s books, should not be thrown out, because the discerning mind can glean knowledge and wisdom from them as they tell the stories of a New Hampshire we never experienced.


  • I Like The Blue One

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Last week, we got our first glimpse of the eight border wall prototypes vying to replace the inadequate – or non-existent – barriers along our nearly 2,000 mile national demarcation with Mexico. I like the blue one.
    We call it a border, but it is much more than that. It is a boundary containing our national identity; our political, economic, and social order. Without it, we are not a nation-state, and our political rights – from the Bill of Rights to present laws – are meaningless. That millions of Americans fail to understand this is testament that we have done a poor job teaching civics in our public school classrooms.
    The promise of a physical barrier along our southern border was a big part of what put Donald Trump in the White House. Seeing those prototypes put a smile on my face. The concrete and steel sections lack grace, but what they represent is beautiful national resolve.
    Six wall sections were the color of desert sand, one was gray metal, but one was sand-color at the base with dark blue metal stretching toward the sky. I don’t know which will prove the most impervious to illegals trying to steal that which doesn’t belong to them, but the blue one struck me as most esthetically-pleasing.
    Function must trump esthetics for our border barrier, but I have one suggestion for the final design: Make the wall educational. Use the wall as a classroom white board, a place where ideas can be written and lessons taught. In those areas where Mexicans and Central Americans are most likely to try to break into our country, let’s adorn the wall with engravings of the words that make the United States a great nation, that separate us from all others.
    What could be more natural on a wall marking a national boundary than the ideas that mark us as unique? For some, “nationalism” is a dirty word. But the desire to form a distinct state, a “more perfect union,” is what created our nation in the first place. Nationalism is embodied in our Constitution’s preamble: “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
    The words – in English and Spanish, of course – that should be permanently engraved on the south-side of the wall include the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. I’d add the Gettysburg Address and a couple of other historic presidential speeches. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, Reagan’s “Tear Down this Wall” speech from Berlin should be up there. After all, this is not a wall holding a people prisoner to a tyrannical state; this is a wall protecting a free people from those who would take from us that which is not theirs.
    Pictures worth thousands of words might cause a few potential illegal aliens to pause in their tracks. Despite Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s claim that Mexico is “a proudly mestizo, multi-cultural and diverse nation” and a country that “firmly believe(s) that this mestizo fusion is the future and destiny of human kind,” a collage of the most recent 10 Mexican presidents and first ladies shows a very Spanish-looking, and in some cases Anglo-looking, group. Mexico is a racially and ethnically-stratified county where indigenes hold little power; Pena Nieto throws stones from his perch in a glass house.
    Pena Nieto is leader of country with a national average IQ 10 points below ours. Illegal immigrants from Central America passing through Mexico come from countries with average IQs 10 points lower still. This is one reason why the debate about who will pay for the “big, beautiful wall” misses the point. Even if President Trump can’t find a way to tax remittances from Mexicans living in the US – money earned here but spent in Mexico – the wall will pay for itself by stopping even a small percentage of illegals from settling in our country.
    The Center for Immigration Studies made a compelling case in a paper earlier this year that due to lower earning ability and higher use of social services, “illegal border-crossers create an average fiscal burden of approximately $74,722 during their lifetimes.” If a wall stopped a mere “9 to 12 percent of those expected to successfully cross in the next decade” the social and economic savings would be $12 to $15 billion – enough to cover the cost of the wall.
    A nation has a sovereign right and obligation to its citizens to protect its interests and control its territory. The United States has been failing at this basic duty for decades, at substantial social and economic cost. Mr. Trump, build up this wall!

    Ken can be reached at kengorrell@gmail.com


  • China’s and Japan’s Elections Contrasted

    John Metzler

    by John J. Metzler
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    UNITED NATIONS – The political optics could not have been more contrasting as China selected its leader and Japan elected its Prime Minister. In a grandiose and stunning setting, draped in the trappings of crimson and gold, 2,300 Chinese Communist Party (CCP) grandees predictably anointed Xi Jinping as the paramount leader of the People’s Republic. Across the Sea of Japan and lashed by heavy rains, 55 million Japanese voters re-elected Japan’s long ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
    The study in contrast between these two East Asian giants could not be more obvious. The People’s Republic of China staged its 19th Party Congress with the usual minority in charge.
    President Xi Jinping has been elevated to the political heights and raw power not seen since the sanguinary days of tyrant Chairman Mao-Tse-tung more than a generation ago.
    Though Chairman Xi commands a fundamentally changed and economically vibrant China than few could have ever imagined, politically, the levers or power and control have not seen the reform of the socio/economic sector. Stifling media censorship and political control remain the hallmark of the CCP system.
    The Party/State rules, not the government in the traditional sense. People are often surprised to learn that in a country of 1.4 billion people, a mere 90 million or six percent are members of the ruling CCP, the sole political party.
    Xi (64) first assumed power in 2012. Abe (63) entered office in 2012. But both men experienced a very different political trajectory.
    Chairman Xi came into power amid the collective leadership that characterized the post-Mao era since the 1970’s. Chairman Xi has been granted the mantle of absolute power, a moniker not seen since Mao. Today Xi leads the world’s largest and powerful authoritarian state. As a special touch, an amendment to the CCP Constitution enshrined “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”.
    A laudatory article in the state run China Daily extolled, “According to the new plan, the CCP will basically realize socialist modernization in the first stage from 2020 to 2035, before developing China into a ‘great modern socialist country’ that is ‘prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful.” Continue reading  Post ID 3092


  • Off Year Elections

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    It’s Almost Election Day!!
    What did you say?
    Election Day?
    No Way!
    But it’s true.
    This is what is called an “off year” election. I believe they call it that because, unlike other years, everything about it is a little “off”. It’s not quite normal. At least what we have come to consider normal as far as elections go.
    Unless you live in certain areas, you won’t even realize it is almost Election Day. There won’t be the daily delivery of oversized political mailers that tell you how bad the other candidates are.
    You won’t be bothered by smiley, enthusiastic (and soon to be disappointed), young campaign workers who will come to your door and try to persuade you to vote for their candidate.
    You won’t have your favorite commercials about your favorite pharmaceutical be displaced by one ad after another for someone or the other who is running for something.
    It will almost seem normal, like nothing is happening. As if there is nothing to worry about.
    But don’t be fooled.
    There just still might be an election going on in your town or city that you don’t even know about.
    It might for your local school board, or for your city council or even a ballot question about something or other that one day suddenly has an effect in your town and you say: “Hey, when in the heck did this happen?” or “How in the heck did he become a city councilor? No one asked me” only to be embarrassed to find out that there was an election and you didn’t know anything about it. Continue reading  Post ID 3092


  • Random Walks And Thoughts (Think Winter)

    Oktoberfest is fun! Charlie and Yours Truly with new friends at the Acadia’s Oktoberfest. October is behind us but you have one more chance to wear your Lederhosen or Dirndl at Pats Peak this Sunday for their annual Oktoberfest/Ski &Snowboard Sale.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    By the end of October a year ago there was snow above 3000 feet. Winter hasn’t teased us yet and it has been easy enjoying this extended warm weather but I am looking forward to winter and to skiing.
    Last weekend Becca and I went out hiking to visit the officially abandoned Sugarloaf Mountain Trail (Benton Range). The old trail still sees some use by people that haven’t forgotten it. Long ago the trail was maintained by Camp Walt Whitman, according to my 1976 AMC White Mountain Guide.
    We easily followed the trail from the forest road but once we hit the ledges we quit the trail. Ladders or rock climbing gear would be necessary to be safe and that is most likely the reason this trail was abandoned. We bushwhacked along the base of the cliff to the south and we were able to wind our way up to the ridge between Sugarloaf and Hogsback. Our compass came in handy for making a beeline through the woods to the summit.

    Becca making her way along the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, Benton Range, upper ledges. Since we couldn’t climb straight up them we went around them to the south and wound our way to the summit.

    From the open ledges we enjoyed the big open views over to nearby mountains and afar–Black Mountain and the Kinsman and Franconia Ranges. Becca and I have been to the top of Sugarloaf before via more difficult bushwhacks.
    While enjoying the summit we took the time to look at an old map and we noticed a nearby peak marked with a ski lift. We decided once we got back down we would go check that out.
    The drive was short to the former Swiftwater Valley Ski Area on Whites Pinnacle in Haverhill. The ski lodge is still operational and a wedding reception was in full swing when we arrived. The lucky couple could not have asked for a nicer summer-like day. We walked way around the lodge and hiked up the mowed hillside and we checked out the defunct rope-tow that is decaying on side of the slope.

    We hiked up old ski trails to the summit of Whites Pinnacle in Haverhill, NH. Looking down the former Swiftwater Valley Ski Area’s old rope tow slope down to the Lodge. According to NewEnglandSkiHistory.com the ski area had a rope tow and a chairlift servicing 650 vertical feet. In 1978 the ski area was renamed to Monteau. The ski area opened December 1973 and it final season was the winter of ‘89-’90.

    Becca and I continued up a path straight up the mountain that was once the line of the small ski area’s double chairlift. Well it wasn’t that small it had 650 vertical feet of skiing.
    On the summit of Whites Pinnacle, elevation 1,470 feet there are a few relics of the former lift and one of the trails is still used for hiking. The old trail wound its way more gently down and we both think we should come back to ski and snowboard it sometime this winter.
    We decided our day shouldn’t be over yet so we drove over to Kinsman Notch and then towards Franconia to check out a little pond. From the road we whacked down to the pond and found a fisherman’s path along its edge. The water was low and there were a few salamanders swimming around near the shore. There also was a unique view of South Kinsman high above and across the water that made this unplanned outing well worth our small effort.
    We enjoyed our mostly unplanned and random day.

    From Sugarloaf Mountain, Benton Range, the views of the Kinsman and Franconia Ranges are an eye-filler. The tip-top of Mount Lafayette peeks up between North and South Kinsman Mountains. Foliage is past peak and soon these peaks will be frosty white.

    ***Ski areas have been putting out reminders that they’ll be open in a month. There is still time to buy your season pass for the ski/snowboard season at the best rates but time is running out. The SkiNH.com website has all the links to your favorite resorts and an events calendar.

    ***Saturday, November 4th – 6th Annual Simmer n ’Brewfest at Cannon Mountain. Gourmet soups galore from local chefs & eateries, brews from over 15 New England breweries and live music. For online tickets— www.cannonmt.com.

    ***Also on Saturday, November 4th is the Gunstock Ski Club Sale in Gunstock’s Main Lodge. New shop and used consignment equipment will be for sale. The sale helps support the Gunstock Ski Club youth ski racing program; more information at www.gunstockskiclub.com.

    ***Sunday, November 5th –Pats Peak Ski Team 47th Annual Ski & Snowboard Sale and the Pats Peak Oktoberfest in November. Two great events in one—King Ludwig’s Bavarian Band, German Food and Beer Garden, kids’ activities, woodsman show and sale of new & used ski and snowboard equipment and apparel. You can register your items for sale on-line; for more information visit www.patspeak.com.

    ***The 35th Boston.com Ski & Snowboard Expo is November 10-13th at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center. This is the place to go to get excited about the upcoming winter snowsport season. Nearly every ski resort in New England is represented at the Expo along with many resorts from the Western United States and Canada. Ski and Snowboard manufactures will be showing off and selling their newest equipment. Super deals and giveaways are all part of the fun; for more information www.skisnowexpo.com.
    Think Snow and have fun.


  • The Witch’s Brew Mystery Woman Unmasked – Part II

    NotSoLongAgo_Blog

    >>Click to read PART ONE of this two part column <<

     

    by Robert Hanaford Smith, Sr._DSC2528
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    The results of investigative reporting may not be welcome to those who prefer that the identity of the alleged witch be kept a mystery, but even perhaps the earliest printed account of the story admits that Granny Hicks of New Hampton, though perhaps looking like a witch and having some peculiar habits and some unexplained insight, was not really a witch.
    If, however, the person(s) who identified the supposed witch as one Esther Prescott Hyde was correct the story is still full of unsolved mysteries. We still do not know how Granny Hicks (or Esther Hyde) knew who the five young masked men who destroyed her cottage were and how she could correctly prophesy how each would die. We do not know when she came to live in New Hampton and where she went after the destruction of her home. We do not know how she could live in the same town as a son and grandchildren with the townspeople not knowing of the connection. And other questions persist. Esther Prescott Hyde died in 1817 at the age of 64 and her body was buried in the New Hampton village cemetery in the Prescott family lot. This fact does not match the tale told by some that Granny Hicks was never seen or heard from again in New Hampton after her house was demolished. Some think that her death occurred in the same year that she lost the house. Her gravestone identifies her as the wife of John Hyde, but with no indication that he is buried near her.
    No mention is made of her first husband, John Prescott, but her son, John, and his wife, Elizabeth Nichols Prescott are buried beside her. Also in the lot in front of the three previously mentioned is a smaller gravestone marking the graves of two of Esther’s granddaughters, Esther and Sarah Prescott.

    The tombstone of Esther Prescott Hyde who died in 1817 at the age of 64 and her body was buried in the New Hampton village cemetery.

    Aunt “Est” and Aunt Sa, as they were called turned the Prescott house on Main Street into a Girl’s Boarding House for young ladies attending the New Hampton Literary School and developed a reputation for a high-quality housing establishment.
    These granddaughters of Esther Prescott Hyde, the alleged witch, were portrayed as follows by newspaper editor E.C. Lewis : “The Prescott girls were universally loved and admired. Shrewd, bright, quick witted, natural nurses, hard workers, sharp of tongue, and close at trade, they were generous and public spirited.” Sarah died in 1885 and what was called the “great fire” of 1887 destroyed the boarding house and two other buildings. The land was sold to Judge Stephen Gordon Nash who had a public library which was named for him built at that location; the library continues to serve the town to this day.
    It would appear that land in New Hampton given to Esther Prescott Hyde by her father on the banks of the Pemigewasset River became the home of one or more of her grandchildren.
    My investigations lead me to believe that John and Elizabeth Prescott’s oldest son Rufus, and the youngest, Perrin, settled along the river. Prescott family history records state that Perrin was “… a farmer, residing with his family of six, in New Hampton, N.H.” Indications are that Rufus was also a farmer cleared land next to his brother’s property on land previously owned by their mother, father, and grandmother (Granny Hicks).
    In finding a record of statistics concerning Granny Hicks (correctly Hyde) and her siblings (the Rollins family from Epping) with the dates of their births and deaths the date of death of Esther alone is missing, indicating that her ties with the family in her later years were not close. Moving on, though, let me mention two of “the witch” of New Hampton’s great-grandchildren who served in the Civil War. Perrin Prescott and his wife Susanah’s oldest child, Rufus, was born in 1833. It is thought that he attended a one-room school located on his father’s property, failed his Aunt Sarah’s efforts to enroll him in the N.H. Academical and Theological Institute after he told the headmaster he didn’t care for his son and became a travelling salesman. He served one hundred and nine days in the Union Army with the Sixth Volunteer Regiment of Massachusetts, fought in the battle of Winchester, Virginia in 1864, was promoted to corporal and guarded rebel prisoners in Delaware.
    Rufus’ brother, John Francis Prescott, served for three years in the 12th New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment, beginning as a private and also being promoted to corporal. According to “THE PRESCOTT MEMORIAL” he was a “brave and intrepid soldier” who participated in seven battles, including Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Fort Royal, Port Waltham, Drury’s Bluff, and at Cold Harbor on June 1 and 3 of 1864. Young John Prescott was wounded on the field of battle at Cold Harbor and “…lay on the field from 5 o’clock A.M. , to 8 P.M., when he crawled back to his own lines.” In November of 1864 Prescott was captured and spent 96 days in the awful Libby Prison. He wrote of the conditions at the prison saying that “ we suffered incredibly from cold, hungers, and filth “, and “ It is impossible to give an adequate description of our sufferings while in prison; a great many were frozen to death, being so weak from starvation that they could not walk to warm themselves. I have walked all night, many a night, to keep from freezing.”
    So there is a little of the information I have found about the brew, or maybe I should say “brood” of the witch of New Hampton, who was not really a witch at all, but is still a person of some mystery.
    Was she the quiet woman who gave the children gifts and was adored by them, or did they throw sticks and stones at her as one version of her life tells us. Was she alienated from her family? Did she and John Hyde have any children? Those and many other questions still persist if Esther Prescott Hyde really was the person called Granny Hicks and the Witch of New Hampton.


  • JOHN FARRELL …. Is GONE

    Mike Moffett by Mike Moffett
    Weirs Times Columnist

    JOHN FARRELL ….
    … is gone as Boston Red Sox manager—despite two straight first-place finishes and a memorable 2013 World Series title. His sin? Failing to advance in the post-season.
    Red Sox Nation has high expectations.
    Consider Bobby Cox. He managed the Atlanta Braves to 14 first place finishes in 15 years, between 1991 and 2005. But, like Farrell, he won but one World Series. If Cox had to work for current BoSox General Manager Dave Dombrowski, would he have lasted?
    I doubt it.
    Imagine firing someone who usually finishes first.
    I’m reminded of San Diego Charger football coach Marty Schottenheimer. The long-time NFL mentor led the Chargers to league’s best record in 2006 (14-2). But when San Diego lost its first playoff game that year—to the Patriots, in a game I attended in San Diego—Schottenheimer was fired.
    It’s about expectations.

    CHARGE “THIS!”
    Speaking of the Chargers, this NFL team which abandoned San Diego for Los Angeles has been struggling, on and off the field. They’ve been drawing around 20,000 fans per game to the StubHub Center, while they await a new L.A. stadium which they’ll share with the Rams in 2019.
    Shame on Charger owner Alex Spanos. Unlike New England’s Bob Kraft, Spanos took his team away from San Diego when the locals wouldn’t pony up a billion bucks for a new stadium. So now his lousy team is losing before sparse crowds in La-La Land. While San Diego may not have been the sports town that Boston is, the Chargers had a loyal following. Spanos could have counted on more than 20,000 fans showing up at Qualcomm Stadium—for a preseason, intra-squad scrimmage.
    Sports loyalty has value, which Spanos and his advisors apparently failed to factor in to the equation which led them to decide to move to L.A.
    Sad.

    USA SOCCER
    Also sad—really sad—is the fact that the USA men’s soccer team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. A 2-1 USA loss to Trinidad-Tobago sealed the Americans’ fate.
    Ay carumba!
    If John Farrell and Marty Schottenheimer deserved to be fired, then what fate should await USA men’s soccer coach Bruce Arena?
    Trinidad-Tobago??? (Did I say “Ay Carumba!” ???)
    Following a headline stating that the USA soccer team would not be appearing in the World Cup Tournament, a soccer fan asked a very fair question.
    “Men’s or women’s team?”
    The USA women have won several World Cup and Olympic titles.
    Sports editors should make sure the headlines state that it was the MEN’S team that failed to qualify.
    Ay carumba!

    Sports Quiz
    What manager was fired after taking his team to the World Series during his first year in charge? (Answer follows)

    Born Today …
    That is to say, sports standouts born on October 19 include former NBA star—and Kobe’s dad—Joe Bryant (1954) as well as former boxing champion Evander Holyfield (1962).

    Sportsquote
    “Being fired has some of the advantages of dying without its supreme disadvantages. People say extra-nice things about you, and you get to hear them.” ― Howard Zinn

    Sportsquiz Answer
    Yogi Berra’s 1964 New York Yankees won 99 games and the American League pennant. Berra was fired after losing a seven-game World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals.

    State Representative Michael Moffett was a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord and currently teaches on-line for New England College. He co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.


  • The Iron Lady

    Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013

    Ken Gorrell

    by Ken Gorrell,
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    Had she lived, Margaret Thatcher would have celebrated her 92nd birthday last week. I wonder how many in the U.K. would prefer the Iron Lady’s ghost to their current prime minister, the hapless Theresa May. When it comes to female prime ministers, the Brits are batting .500.
    The 1980’s triad of Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II changed the course of history in ways I’m afraid most Millennials fail to appreciate. America would be a very different place today if, instead of pointless inquiries into “Russian meddling” in an election, we were still facing the very real threats from the Soviet Union. Thanks in large part to Mrs. Thatcher, in 1991 the Evil Empire crumbled in the face of Western resolve, ending the Cold War in a win for the West.
    In my favorite photo of Mrs. Thatcher (which I have in a small frame on my deck), she and President Reagan are walking purposefully at Camp David, deep in discussion. She’s wearing a broad-shouldered coat in style at the time, and sensible shoes. He’s in a leather flight jacket and cowboy boots. When I think of the 1980s, that’s the picture that comes to mind.


    This anniversary of her passing didn’t end in a zero or a five, but it still deserved more media attention than it received. When we lose our connection to history, we lose ourselves. As Mrs. Thatcher said, “If… many influential people have failed to understand, or have just forgotten, what we were up against in the Cold War and how we overcame it, they are not going to be capable of securing, let alone enlarging, the gains that liberty has made.” She could have been speaking directly to former President Obama and his fecklessness in the fight against our Islamic enemy.
    Betsy Pearson, writing at Independent Women’s Forum, supplied us with the “Top Five Reasons Margaret Thatcher is Still an Inspiration to Women Today”. The article is worth reading in its entirety – and passing along to young women you care about.
    Pearson’s top five: She didn’t use her sex to influence her career; she was principled; she challenged the status quo, not caring about being popular (earning her the nickname “Iron Lady”); she had to work for her success; and she was a modern feminist, but not of the Left-leaning variety, which shunned her.
    So much of what she said and did transcends her time. Addressing the Conservative Party conference in 1983, she said: “Let us never forget this fundamental truth. The state has no source of money other the money people earn themselves. If the state wishes to spend more, it can do so only by borrowing your savings or by taxing you more. There is no such thing as public money, there is only taxpayers’ money.” I hope Republicans in the House and Senate keep those words in mind as they debate tax cuts and tax reform.
    So, too, they should hear Mrs. Thatcher’s voice saying “It is a very fundamental truth that is frequently and almost universally forgotten. Any time you see the terms ‘public funding,’ ‘public funds,’ ‘government funding,’ or ‘government funds’ be sure to substitute ‘taxpayer funding’ and ‘taxpayer funds.’” as they reform government health insurance and craft the next budget.
    A few other quotes from the Iron Lady that should resonate in the halls of Congress, as well as on college campuses and in our homes:
    “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
    “Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction.”
    “The spirit of envy can destroy; it can never build.”
    “Nothing is more obstinate than a fashionable consensus.”
    “Every family should have the right to spend their money, after tax, as they wish, and not as the government dictates. Let us extend choice, extend the will to choose and the chance to choose.”
    “There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty.”
    “There are still people in my party who believe in consensus politics. I regard them as Quislings, as traitors… I mean it.”
    “To wear your heart on your sleeve isn’t a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best.”
    And finally, “No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.” We should remember Margaret Thatcher not just because of her intentions, but because of her achievements and her effect on our lives.

    Ken can be reached at kengorrell@gmail.com


  • Life Goes On

    A Fool In NH Column Heading

    Some columns are difficult to write.
    Two weeks ago, my wife, Kim, and I took a trip to the neighborhood I grew up in on Long Island, New York.
    It wasn’t a trip we had planned, but we were expecting to take it soon all the same.
    You see, my mom passed away after being ill for awhile. Though no one in our family had lived in that town for many years, including mom, it was her wish to have her funeral there.
    No matter how well mentally prepared you think you are for the imminent death of a loved one, when the time arrives, you realize you aren’t prepared at all.
    People ask “How old was your mom?” When I say she was ninety-three there are the “Well, she lived a good life” responses. And she did live a great life. Still, she was an important constant and stable influence through my own sixty-one years of life.
    It is very sad, no matter what age.

    My mom, Gloria Smith, in the 1960s.

    Of course, traveling back to Long Island after living here in Central New Hampshire for the last thirty-two years was as expected. There was traffic everywhere. There was even a traffic jam at the cemetery.
    Before the day of the funeral I got the chance to take Kim around to show her some of the places that were part of my stories about my childhood. We even took a drive to see the house where I grew up; the place where my mom always was waiting with a smile when I came home from grammar school, which was only a few blocks away.
    The Catholic Church we attended as a family was right next to the school. It was where my mom wanted her service. I hadn’t been up its many stone steps and into its grand hall since my Dad had passed away in 1981.
    The service was beautiful and my niece gave a wonderful eulogy that, in just a few minutes, summed up perfectly the essence of who my mom was: a caring and unselfish person whose greatest happiness was her own family.
    All of us, my three brothers, two sisters and myself, had said our goodbyes to mom just the week before as she lay breathing her last breaths in a nursing home. Now here we were, all gathered together, just a few days later, to say one more goodbye. All of her kids in one place, twice in one week. She would have loved that.
    The trip to the cemetery, nine or so cars, blinkers flashing, following behind the hearse which was wending its way along the never-ending curves of the Southern State Parkway, had its New York moments. A couple of impatient drivers trying to wend their way through our memorial procession that wasn’t moving quite fast enough to their liking. Some humans will just never understand certain things.
    The cemetery was not only massive with thousands of gravesites, but was also very busy as there were numerous other burials that morning. As I mentioned before, we were stuck there in a traffic jam. Still, there was no honking of horns or rude gestures. We were all together in the same mindset of what is truly important at times like these.
    My mom was to be buried with my dad and as we drove to the familiar spot at the cemetery that I hadn’t been to in years, the sunshine we were enjoying began to be overtaken by ominous looking clouds. There was still time for the final prayers and goodbyes before the imminent rain moved in.
    Still, we sat in our cars and waited. We had no choice.
    Nothing could be done until the crew of union cemetery workers arrived and moved the casket from the hearse to the gravesite. Even with more than enough able bodies in our group to do the deed, we could do nothing but sit and wait until the crew arrived about fifteen minutes later to do their one minute of work.
    By now cold rain was falling at a good clip and my anger was rising at the situation.
    But my anger quickly gave way to sadness again as we gathered around mom’s casket for final prayers. I couldn’t feel the cold rain as much as I felt the warm tears against my face.
    As everyone began the procession from the cemetery, I waited behind for a few extra seconds. Watching the rain falling on mom’s casket, hoping she was okay. Hoping she wasn’t feeling alone. But I knew better. She wasn’t really in that box, she was already with other loved ones who had passed. I know she was welcomed with open arms.
    None of us will ever know what the minutes of our final send-off will bring; what the weather will be like. Who will be around to say goodbye. We have no control over that. But we can control the way we live, the way we act, the happiness we can bring to others while we are here. The memories we leave for the living who must carry on regardless. Those things are what really count when all is said and done.
    Well done, Mom!
    Back here in New Hampshire, things are just a little different now for me. If you know me, you might not notice it. A memory will bring a sudden tear or a smile.
    Life goes on.


  • Separatist Fault Line Stretches From Spain to Ukraine

    John Metzler

    by John J. Metzler
    Weirs Times Contributing Writer

    UNITED NATIONS – A dangerous and potentially riveting political fault line stretches from Spain across Europe to Ukraine as smoldering separatist movements have gained new strength and standing.
    From Catalonia in Spain to the eastern regions of Ukraine with Corsica in between, the nationalist rift runs through the European Union to Russia. Deep cultural and linguistic divides are prevalent. Equally the political populism which triggered Britain’s BREXIT vote to leave the European Union has fueled separatist sentiments.
    But like Spain’s Basque regions, Catalonia already has autonomy within the central government in Madrid. Culturally and linguistically Catalonia’s moves are rooted in centuries of a proud identity and reflect a reality that the small northeast region of 7.5 million people centered in Barcelona remains of hub of prosperity. Yet despite its wealth, Catalonia remains the most indebted autonomous region in Spain.
    On October 1st, Catalonia held a independence referendum in which the regional government claimed an epic victory; while 90 percent of voters backed independence, only 43 percent of those eligible even cast a ballot! The vote moreover was illegal under the Spanish constitution.
    Yet the brash referendum move by the left wing regional government in Barcelona, while also igniting a constitutional crisis, deliberately gave the false impression of a Catalan David facing down a Spanish Goliath in the central government in Madrid.
    The Spanish daily ABC asserted editorially that Catalans had been brainwashed by a ‘radicalized and intransigent minority.”
    All was set for the next act by the region’s pugnacious president Charles Puigdemont; a full declaration of independence! Happily at least for the moment reality intervened.
    Massive popular marches across Spain and in Barcelona itself, rallied to Spanish unity. El Pais, the national newspaper headlined, “Historic Manifestations against Separatism and for the Constitution.”
    Spain’s conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy launched a political counteroffensive underscoring that the regional government had acted outside the Law and the Constitution. He warned that “Catalonia is a battle for Europe.” Soon even the Socialists and the leftist mayor of Barcelona opposed independence.
    Catalonia’s delirium soon turned to disappointment when Puigdemont pulled back from the brink and delayed his planned formal call for independence. Whether the populists reverse this stand is open to question as many far Left elements in the regions have turned the issue from pro Catalan independence to anti-Spain sentiment.
    “A romantic framing of foreign crises where self-determination is involved is a common trap. The imagery of ‘oppressors” vs ‘freedom fighters’ is appealing and, to their credit, the leaders of Catalonia have been successful in promoting their agenda abroad in just such terms …
    Combined with the soft power appeal of cosmopolitan Barcelona, there is much confusion abroad on the nature of the current crisis in Catalonia, and myths and stereotypes abound,”according to Spanish political observer Francisco de Borja Lasheras of the European Council on Foreign Relations in Madrid.
    Britain’s Spectator magazine opined, “So the illegal referendum in Catalonia last week was a long-meditated revenge by the left and an attempted coup d’état. It affected the rights not only of all Catalans, but of all Spaniards.”
    Moreover what of the European Union angle? An independent Catalonia would be outside the European Union much as would an independent Scotland. The idea that after unilaterally breaking with Madrid, an independent Catalonia would automatically be admitted into the EU with its trade and political benefits is simply nonsense.
    During this giddy but worrying episode, neighboring France was particularly critical of the Catalan independence gambit. Why? The Mediterranean island of Corsica (birthplace of Napoleon ), has long been a hotbed of militant separatism. The French government knows that a spark from nearby Spain can easily revive the smoldering Corsican debate.
    Moreover Ukraine which equally has a cultural/ethnic fault line in the eastern regions, has endured violent manipulation by Russia over the past few years.
    Though some of the nationalist cultural aspirations are valid, they threaten the wider European Union not to mention established democratic nation states such as Spain.
    Lessons of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s not to mind the bloody Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s where Catalonia had become an epicenter of the conflict, serve as somber signposts to the often ultimate consequence of untamed separatism.
    Many of these issues are rooted in an affair of the heart more than of the mind; in other words what would be the viability of an unrecognized Catalan micro state the size of Belgium?
    Catalans must open dialogue within Spain to sort out the widening rifts before they become entrenched divisions. As Mariano Rajoy asserted, “It is urgent to put an end to the situation that Catalonia is living.”

    John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism The Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China.


  • Salted Caramel Stout by Southern Tier Brewing Co.

    Heading_WickedBrew

    We are approaching that time of year again where more is better; flavor and bigness that is. With colder months upon us, our winter coat needs to be built up. A few extra pounds just may help in staying warmer this winter. And, with holidays fast approaching, desserts will abound. So, with our focus beer today and in this holiday mindset, we examine Southern Tier’s Salted Caramel Stout.
    Southern Tier Brewing Company, located in Lakewood, NY, has produced finely crafted and bigger beers since 2002. Phineas DeMink and Allen Yahn started Southern Tier in 2002. By 2005, they were in full brewing mode. In 2009, the demand for their rapidly growing fan base of great craft recipes made it necessary to expand beyond the yearly offerings of pilsner, IPA and golden ale styles into seasonals that grew their notoriety. Today they are distributed among 30 states and beyond. Southern Tiers’ 110-barrel brewing capacity just barely keeps up with their distribution so more growth is projected. Their facility also ventured into distilling spirits in the spring of 2016. Find out more about Southern Tier at stbcbeer.com.


    Firstly, Salted Caramel is not a beer of which you would drink more than two or more. Salted is a bit boozy but hides the full 10% ABV pretty well until you have gone after a second one. Southern’s web page for Salted proclaims, “We brewed Salted Caramel to pay tribute to one of our favorite sweets. In the same vein as salted caramel chocolates and truffles, our Salted Caramel stout is the perfect balance of sweet decadence and savory salt. Perfect alone, or enjoyed as a float.” Of their own volition, they announce Salted as a dessert beer. One sip of this dark caramel, almost black liquid with quickly disappearing khaki head gives you the sweetness and smooth flavor you might expect in dessert. The salt peaks through at the end of your sipping experience. Notes of butterscotch and toffee bounce around your tastebuds, supporting a medium, but rich, mouthfeel, giving way to bitterness at the end.
    Although I am not a fruit beer, nor insultingly hot and spicy beer lover, I tend to like good hop quality with freshness served up straight. And I tend, in these cooler months, to lean on porters and stouts more often. So the timing and inquisitive blending of this brew makes it intriguing. Again, it is not for everyone. Try a single bottle purchase if you can to help you decide about the full 6 pack destination.
    BeerAdvocate.com has officially awards it a 4.13 out of 5 and followers, rating it as high as 4.75 out of a 5.0 scale.
    You can find Salted Caramel Stout at Case-n-Keg in Meredith as well as other fine beer providers.
    Cheers!

    Jim MacMillan is the owner of WonByOne Design of Meredith, NH, and is an avid imbiber of craft brews and a home brewer as well. Send him your recommendations and brew news to wickedbrews@weirs.com