Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Remembering Anne

This week marked a sad event in our combined families with the death of Pat's Aunt Anne who died on Tuesday at 87.

We fondly remember special times.  

Aunt Anne loved celebrating holidays. She always sent a card and, despite a limited income, always gave small gifts. When folks excitedly thanked her, she was even happier.

Small joys are the best.

More than anyone, Aunt Anne enjoyed her birthday celebration. She would forewarn family members months in advance of the November date.

No one ever forgot her special day.

Aunt Anne's special passion was a (very) large magnet collection. She delighted whenever someone brought her a new one for her ever-expanding collection displayed on metal boards. Every one was special and she made you feel special because of her delighted comment, "I love it" always said when she received a new one.

And we all loved Aunt Anne. She remains in our fondest memories.
Dorothy (Beatrice) & Pat (Grenville)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hops and Honey

Did you know that 1 out of every 2 two beers consumed in America is made by Anheuser-Busch?

It's OK, if you didn't know that as neither did we. In early March, we visited its Merrimack, NH brewery that serves all New England. Out of all 12 Anheuser-Busch breweries in the U.S. breweries, this location in the picturesque Merrimack Valley is considered the most scenic. We can't vouch for the view as on our visit, there was a lot of snow.

Built in 1970, the brewery can package 8 million 12-ounce servings in 24 hours. 

The free 40-minute brewery tour is capped with a 15-minute visit to the sampling room, where adults can select 2 samples and a bag of pretzels. Younger visitors get a choice of soft drinks. 

The same week we visited Moonlight Meadowy in Londonderry, NH. However, this location was less scenic as it's currently housed in an industrial building.

Mead is wine made from honey and it was the tipple of choice from ancient times through the late Middle Ages, when honey was supplanted by cheaper sugars, which led to a rise in ales.

Moonlight Meadery was started in 2010. This alcoholic beverage is made by fermenting honey with water and in adulterated form with various fruits, spices, grains and even hops, a main ingredient in beer

Mead may conjure up images of Renaissance fairs or Germanic folk tales as it's known from many sources of ancient history throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. You may even have heard it referred to as "honey-wine." 

Mead has more alcohol by value (ABV) content (8-16%) than beer (2 to 12%) and can even go as high as 20% ABV. The defining characteristic of mead is that the majority of the beverage's fermentable sugar is derived from honey. Mead can be still, carbonated, or naturally sparkling, dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. The flavor of a mead changes based on the flowers that honeybees use to pollinate. 

Our 30 minute "tour" included details on the types of honey and the fermentation process. Afterwards, we sampled varieties named: Slow Dance, Flame, Admiration, Fling, Mischief, Smitten, Je t’aime, Sensual, Blissful, Paramour, Desire, Kisses, Dreamy, Breathless, Seduction. 

Honeymoon can be traced to the medieval tradition of drinking honey wine for a full cycle of the moon after marriage. Mead was thought to be an aphrodisiac, that if consumed by newlyweds, would produce offspring sooner. This is why, a bride’s father would often include enough mead in her dowry to last a month.

There are at least 165 meaderies in the U.S. It’s generally not widely available in bars. Craft mead hasn’t yet been commercialized on a large scale and can be more costly than wine. While mead was a nice treat, we prefer our alcoholic beverages to remain beer and wine. 

What are your drinking preferences?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Nearly 100 Years Ago

There’s nothing better than a good read and, for me, it's more so if the story is about actual events. Yet, some non-fiction books can be boring or difficult to get through. (I've read my share of these.)

Not so when reading a book by Erik Larson, a nonfiction author known for authoring novels dealing with historical events. His recent bestselling novels include: Issac’s Storm, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, released March 10, is a fascinating and engrossing read, currently topping the best seller lists. (Luckily, I read about its pending release before it arrived at the public library, and as able to check out a copy within a week.)

On May 1, 1915, the British Cunard liner, RMS Lusitania sailed on its 101st eastbound crossing from New York to Liverpool, England, carrying a record number of children and infants (including 128 Americans). The liner sailed even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone.

As we know, Lusitania never reached its destination. After six days and 11 miles off the Irish coast, the 787-ft liner was struck by a single torpedo from the U-20 German submarine and sank in 18 minutes. In one of history's most catastrophic maritime disaster  over half the passengers and crew on board died—1,198 out of 1,962.

(Three years earlier, the White Star liner, the 882-ft Titanic, sank in 160 minutes claiming 1,523 out of 2,228 passengers earlier.)

The U-20 captain, Walther Schwieger, learned that the Lusitania had no naval escort and, following the German government’s new policy of unrestricted warfare, fired a single torpedo (not two as reported in some news accounts) into the Lusitania’s hull. Soon afterwards, a second explosion rumbled from inside the liner; she quickly listed to starboard, preventing many lifeboats from being launched.

Controversy has long surrounded the Lusitania's sinking. Larson provides no ready answers, yet discusses many of these issues, including:
  • Why had the British Admiralty which in wartime had control over Cunard liners failed to provide a military escort in the Irish channel, despite knowing that deciphered codes, of U-boat activity in the area?
  • Did the Lusitania's Captain Will Turner, fail to follow Admiralty precautions, notably its advocacy to zig-zag as a submarine-eluding maneuver?
  • What caused the devastating second explosion, observed by passengers and crew and by the U-20 captain through his periscope?
  • Did the ship have war munitions on board as widely rumored?
  • Why was a British cruiser sent to rescue the Lusitania’s victims suddenly called back to port?
  • Why did Winston Churchill, first lord of the Admiralty, leave for France before the sinking — did he know anything?
Larson is not the only author to write about the Lusitania. Other books include: Lusitania: Saga and Myth (2001) by David Ramsay. Diana Preston, authored Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy (2002), which was recently released as an e-book and re-titled Voices of the Lusitania

For myself (and others) curious to know more about the Lusitania, there's the online, The Lusitania Resource, with information on the ship, its passengers, crew and more.

Did I enjoy this book and would I recommend it — a resounding YES. Dead Wake has already been optioned as a film, just like Titanic. But, as most people know, the book is always better than the movie. For example, the 1955 nonfiction, A Night to Remember, by Walter Lord is considered a definitive resource about the Titanic

FYI , today, marks the 103rd anniversary of the RMS Titanic sinking.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Friday Funnies

Now we know the holidays are rushed more and more each year. One hardly ends and stores have "stuff" for the next celebration. Easter candy was still out when I spotted these in a "dollar" type store last weekend. but July 4th seems a bit too early.

Doesn't it seem just a bit way too early planning for July 4th? We had snow flurries in New England this week!

No kidding.

OK, I'm not sure if these were meant for Memorial Day holiday at the end of May, but they sure looked like 4th of July decorations. 

After all, Christmas in July is getting closer than you think; it's here in under 258 days according to this countdown.

Eggs-cellent Easter

Thanks for all your Easter wishes and we hope your holiday was celebrated with family, friends or both. Our Easter road trip included a visit with grandson, granddaughter and their mom. Egg- coloring eggs is a long-standing family favorite.

Also at Easter, we celebrated several April birthdays with family members in CT.  The kids helped to blow out candles

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Greetings

Wishing everyone a joyous celebration . . .
(Dorothy & Patrick aka Beatrice & Grenville)

Friday, April 3, 2015

They had a Ball

Our two grandkids recently attended a performance by the world-famous Harlem globetrotters (lucky kids). We were not at the show, but their mom shared a few photos. 

Grandson happily shows off his basketball.

Smiling faces all around. 
We will be seeing all of them on Easter weekend and looking forward to the visit!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Showing the Green

The Mystic (CT) Irish Parade is a major event in this small New England village. It was a first time attendance for Grenville and myself as we joined other family members on a very chilly parade day.

This year's event was the 12th annual celebration with more than 90 different groups and organizations participating. It was a first time attendance for Grenville and I.

According to parade organizers, this event draws more pipe bands than any other state parade. There are also many fife and drum groups and several high school marching bands representing various CT cities.

Seating was first-come along the Mystic, CT sidewalks as the downtown was closed off a couple of hours in advance of the festivities. Many folks were colorfully attired.

The weather was clear and very chilly as participants kept the crowds entertained.
There was no shortage of colorful characters. 

"St Patrick" made at least two appearances; patriots and pirates marched as well.