Thursday, July 23, 2009

Starry Starry Night at The Buttonwood Inn

Recently we had a visit from Alan Chaniewski, a photojournalist for the past 32 years, Alan is currently Chief Videographer at The Hartford Courant newspaper in Hartford, Connecticut. Most of his videos can be seen on their website at His recent blogs, including a very flattering one about the Buttonwood Inn's relationship to Astronomy, is posted on .

Alan and his wife Debbie visited many of the sights in the Mount Washington Valley and the photographs they have taken are, to say the least , outstanding. This photo of me and Paula next to the Inn's 10" Meade telescope set up in the backyard of the Buttonwood is an example of Alan's skill because anyone who can make me look good in a photo is certainly skilled.

Alan also shot some great pictures of our resident red squirrel and an awesome picture of a hummingbird in mid-flight which can be seen on his blog.

Here's an example of an image of Jupiter I took that Alan was able to enhance. I used the 10" Meade you see in the photograph . I had a very simple Canon A80 digital camera which I simply held up to the eyepiece of the telescope and voila!

The following image of the moon was taken the same night and is a good example of the the imaging capability of the Meade instrument. As a kid I always wanted a telescope and I was always looking up and marveling at the night sky. I was fortunate to find this great telescope as we were planning to move from Central New Jersey to our new home at the Buttonwood Inn atop Mount Surprise on the border of North Conway and Bartlett. I just knew that the skies were going to be awesome with hardly any of the light pollution experienced down south and I wasn't disappointed. Looking up at the Milky Way here can be breathtaking and when our guests look up from the outdoor hot tub on a clear, moonless night they are often speechless as they take in the grandeur of it all.

Paula and I welcome anyone who is interested in astronomy to come visit. Whether you bring your own telesope, camera with telephoto lens, or binoculars, or take in the sights through our equipment you are sure to have a wonderful experience in the White Mountains of New Hampshire at The Buttonwood Inn on Mount Surprise.

Happy Stargazing!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Good Read for a "Foodie"

My daughter gave me the book, "My Life in France" by Julia Child, which was written in her last days. It begins with her marriage to Paul Child and they resided in France in 1948 for several years in which she depicts in great detail (often with humor) the various areas of France, including the lives of the people they knew both in France and the United States. Julia Child graduated from Smith College but not with a culinary degree. After eating fine food in the local French restaurants, she became fascinated with the art and skill of cooking. She enrolled in the Cordon Bleu School of culinary arts and meticulously honed her craft with glorious days of cooking for her husband and friends.

What was also fascinating to me about the book was the way she describes the preparation of the dishes and the way they should taste. I was also intrigued by the years of recipe development for each dish, whereby it would be tested many times over to get it just right in terms of flavor and texture. This recipe testing was the basis for the tome, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," written by Julia and her two French culinary expert friends, which was considered by many well-known chefs of the time to be the best and most comprehensive cooking guide for beginners and experts alike.

Check out to purchase either of these books:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

There's never a shortage of Hummingbirds and other winged visitors to the Buttonwood between May and October. Our guests are treated to their acrobatics and constant highjinks at the crack of dawn while we are serving Paula's scrumptious breakfasts in our dining room. Two hummingbird feeders and the Buttonwood's lush gardens are just outside the dining room windows. The views of the feeders, gardens, forest trees, and bright blue skies serve as a panoramic background for the Hummingbirds aerial acrobatics. To watch the ruby-throated males (Archilochus colubris) perch protectively in the shrubs standing guard over "their" feeder then dart assertively after other hummingbird "clan" members is quite entertaining not to mention amazing. The females, with their green backs and white underside and tail corners tipped black and white, seem to laugh at the antics of the males especially when they perform a U-shaped flying pattern over and over again trying to impress the females or warn other males that this is their territory.

Bill keeps a supply of the nectar on hand at all times as the antics of these little "jet" powered avians burns up a lot of "fuel". They feast on the simple mixture consisting of one part sugar to two parts water and will remind Bill if he forgets to refill one by persistently sounding off with a string of chips and squeaks near the front porch rocking chairs. Guests often comment about the "whirring" sound of their tiny wings as they flit back and forth from feeder to nesting area or pursue each other in a constant attempt to "shoo" away hummingbirds from the competing nesting sites. They are the only birds that can fly backward and their wings, which beat dozens of times per second, make a humming sound which can't be mistaken.

The pictures above were taken by Bill at the hummingbird feeder closest to our dining room picture window near the front porch rocking chair area.

The following images were taken by one of our guests from England: