Thursday, October 28, 2010

OCTOBER SUNRISE, A story told mostly in pictures.

The field across the road early this morning.

Through the oaks, rays of sun just reaching the allee .

A backdrop of russet and orange broken by the vertical trunks of the oaks.

There was rain last night.
The water creates a halo along the branches of the chamaecyparis.

Main Street.
A trip into town for the NY Times.

Sheep grazing. They are hoping to have a feast of pumpkins delivered soon!

A beautiful, warm and atmospheric October morning here in New Hampshire.


All content on this blog is the exclusive copyright of
Elizabeth Johansson

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Canterbury Shaker Village: A tour and a new broom

Canterbury Shaker Village, Canterbury, New Hampshire, is a well preserved example of a Shaker Village. The Shaker community was established at Canterbury in 1792 and remained active for about 200 years. The word simplicity comes to mind when thinking about Shakers, but industrious, pious and inventive can also be used to define this community.
Communal work and dining were daily routine here. Shakers were practiced celibacy, but took in children to their community, and they cared for the poor. They were pacifists and believed in equality.

By 1848 there were 100 buildings at the village and the community had grown to 300.
The buildings have a simple understated beauty. The village is visually stunning. The proportions of the structures, window fenestration , paint colors, and quality of wood work all lend to the appeal of the buildings.

Print Shop and Broom Making Shop
The lower part of this building houses what was the Shaker print shop. The Shakers kept up with "technology" and for it's day, had the latest in print machinery. They printed items such as seed packets for their own enterprise, but also took in printing from the outside to generate income.
Upstairs is the Broom making shop. This was a real treat!
Everyday the village has volunteers at the various buildings re-creating Shaker craft or explaining the life-style of the community. The day we visited Jack was at the Broom Shop making a broom.

Here is Jack explaining the craft of making the broom. What is it that makes a Shaker broom unique, beyond is wonderful craftsmanship? The fuzzies. At the bottom of the broom, the tips of the broom corn are not trimmed. The tips have a fuzzy texture and that is why a Shaker broom really sweeps cleans, leaving not a trace of dirt behind!
Brooms are hung on wooden pegs that also made by the Shakers. We were told, " the broom should only touch the ground when in use!"

Broom Corn
Before we left the Broom Shop, Jack urged us to visit the garden to see where the broom corn used to create these brooms, is grown .
We found the broom corn . The garden also contains vegetables and a large variety of herbs, some that were unfamiliar to us.

A view of the garden to the garden barn and shed (1828). Here the herbs were dried and packaged for culinary and medicinal use. These herbal products were used in the village and also sold to the public. Seeds saved from the garden were also packaged in beautiful packets printed in the print shop and sold through a catalogue. The Shakers were industrious !
The garden supplied the community with food as well created income to support the village.

Up until 1870 the garden only served functional needs. It was just about this time that decorative gardens were first planted here. A new twist in Shaker gardening.........gardens for ornamentation!

On our way out of the village, a lone figure in a barn, sweeping.
On this visit to Canterbury Shaker Village we had family visiting. We thought this a good place to get a look at a piece of New Hampshire history.

Before we left the village we stopped at the Museum Shop.
Jack had just delivered the broom we watched him create. We bought the broom. Then we remembered that it must be hung when not in use. We bought a wooden peg board.
The broom hangs proudly on a peg in the mud room, like a piece of art. Yes, we do take down from the peg and sweep with if often.
It is the best broom we have ever owned!

Canterbury Shaker Village
288 Shaker Rd., Canterbury, NH

Upcoming events:

November 13, 2010
Shaker Thanksgiving
A benefit: Thanksgiving meal served in the historic Dwelling house.
(call for details and reservations)

November 26-28
Gift In Hand
a three day event , shop for handcrafted items, food & wreaths

For additional information schedules, tours, events and tickets go to the website.

Greenwood's Restaurant ( at Shaker Village)
open for lunch

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dreaming of Tuscany and Umbria: Remembering A Day Trip To A Few Of Our Favorite Places

A view from Montechiello (Tuscany)
The drive through the Tuscan landscape is enchanting. The destination is Monte Oliveto Maggiore, 36 km. south of Siena

The Cloister,Monte Oliveto Maggiore
For us, a visit to Tuscany is about art, food, drawing, cooking, gardens,wine and of course the lovely people. The drive to Monte Oliveto Maggiore, through the Crete Senesi is unbeliveable.
In May, the landscape is jewel green with hillsides defined with cypress trees and houses topped with terracotta tiled roofs. There are sheep, olive trees and vineyards. In Fall, the crete landscape becomes evident with an strange turned clay soil, that completely startles the first time you see it. It is amazing!
The Great Cloister at Monte Oliveto Maggiore holds a Renaissance masterpiece.

Along the walls of the cloister the story of the life of St. Benedetto ( St Benedict),which unfolds in frescos painted by Antonio Bazzi ( 'Sodoma') and Luca Signorelli. This a truly wonderful example of a Renaissance fresco cycle. Not only are there these masterfully painted frescos, but they are surrounded by decoratively painted columns and panels.
A visit here should include the upstairs library and the abbey if they are open.
On our walk past the tower to the abbey, I could smell food grilling and immediately made reservations for lunch at the restaurant on the grounds, La Torre. After filling our eyes and souls with the frescos we dined on the best bean soup we had ever had. After the soup came the grilled guinea fowl and chicken that caught my attention earlier, along with zucchini flowers Dolci (dessert) was a young and lucious local pecorino. On return visits we have also had terrific house made pastas.

Lovely Pienza, here Pope Pius II had a palazzo designed that was sensitive to the landscape. The loggia overlooks a Renaissance courtyard garden and the view continues out across the Val'd'Orcia. Next to the Palazzo Piccolomini lies what many say is the perfect Renaissance piazza. The piazza was designed over a period of time from 1459-1462 by Rossolino, a student of the great architect Leon Battista Alberti.
Spend some time here sketching to really see what is going on with the architecture and scale.
Pienza has a subtle aroma of pecorino cheese! The shops selling this local favorite line the streets. The pecorino's are heavenly, from the youngest that are soft and mild to to the aged bold flavored ones. We hear spring time when the sheep are feeding on new grass is the best time to taste pecorino cheese, especially the young, fresh variety.

The Garden at Villa Le Mura

Just outside the walls of Panicale, which in not in Tuscany, but Umbria, is Villa LeMura.
A grand villa that made me think of Henry James, with it's parlors and library.
After a full day, a spectacular day, it was perfect to sit on the terrace just off our room, with a glass of wine and enjoy the remainder of the day. I remember the filled the Umbrian sky.

Nice to think back on and plan for the future!
For today I am dreaming of Italy.

Abbazia Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Tuscany Italy
South of Siena, near Asciano

Osteria La Torre ( at Monte Oliveto Maggiore)

Villa Le Mura, Panicale, Italy (Umbria)

More recommendations:
Bar Gallo, Panicale(Umbria)
Ristorante Masolino, Panicale (Umbria)
Trattoria Latte di Luna, Pienza (Tuscany)
Osteria La Porta, Montechiello (Tuscany)


The Palazzo Piccolomini, Pienza
A worthwhile tour is open to the public.

All content in this blog are the exclusive copyright of Elizabeth Johansson and may not be reproduced without written permission.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Join a conversation between painter James Aponovich and curator Kurt Sundstrom as they discuss three masterworks from the collection of the Currier Museum of Art. Hear the historian vs. artist and how each view a work of art.
This conversation will be centered on works that are part of the current exhibition, The Secret Life of Art: Mysteries of the Museum Revealed.

James Aponovich & Kurt Sundstrom
Currier Museum of Art
Monadnock Region Outreach Group

Friday, October 8, 5:30-7:30
Peterborough Historical Society
Peterborough, NH

For information about this event call (603) 669-6144

For more information on exhibitions & events at the Currier Museum of Art:

Image shown: Madonna & Child, Circle of Perugino , 1505 (collection of the Currier Museum)

Monday, October 4, 2010

AUTHORS ON THE ROAD: Howard Mansfield & Sy Montgomery

Authors ( and friends) Sy Montgomery and Howard Mansfield are on the road with their new books.

Howard's book Turn and Jump examines how time and place fell apart. "This is a book about time and place, they were once inseparable."
Mansfield writes,"Before Thomas Edison, light and fire were thought to be one and the same. Turns out they were separate things all together."

Sy's newest book Birdology, is a story of birds told as only she can tell it.
Adventures with a pack of hens, a peck of pigeons, cantankerous crows, fierce falcons,
hip hop parrots, baby hummingbirds,
and one murderously big living dinosaurs!


Howard and Sy bring their stories to life.
Their appearances are informative, and entertaining. When they visit a library or bookstore in your town you must attend!
They have just returned from Portland Maine and Portsmouth NH, where they were well received!
Next stop is Wilton, NH, then on to Concord NH.

October 5 at 7:00pm: Wilton Public and Gregg Free Library, Wilton, NH

October 7 at 7:00 pm: Gibson's Book Store, Concord,NH
a joint reading and signing.

For more information on the authors, their books, and a complete schedule of the authors upcoming events go to authorwire.

Hope you enjoy the books!