Sunday, July 30, 2023

Sad News in Twos

Sad news arrived the end of last week, twice.

Both concerned the passing of friends. The first was a long-standing friend, Linda, who lived in Washington, DC. Both NJ natives, we met as reporters for a weekly newspaper. As our working careers and lives diverged and we lived in different cities, we kept in contact through visits, phone calls, messages and mail.

The second was a fellow blogger, Vickie Swanson, known as Vee on her blog A Haven for Vee and she was met through her blog posts. This past Friday, a fellow blogger, Abby, posted the news of her passing on Vee's blog with a link to her obituary. There's a guestbook where a message can be written for the family to read.  Also, comments can be left on the blog post .

While Linda and Vee had never met, in death they shared a couple of commonalities. Both were the same age (69) and both waged a multi-year battle with breast cancer. They sadly lost this war leaving behind family members that included a spouse, adult children and grandchildren.

Of course, the older we get, it's inevitable that we will witness the passing of beloved family members and that of dear friends, which includes fellow bloggers as well.

What makes my friend Linda's passing even harder is not having had a chance to have said goodbye and to have offered condolences to her family. That's because I only learned of her late May death last Thursday. She hadn't responded to a June birthday card and several text and voice messages, a couple left as recent as last week. Her voice message played but a message said the mailbox was full . Most likely others who had no knowledge of her death had left or were trying to leave a message. 

I get the bad news online. Earlier, I had searched for her husband, John, fearing the worst as he's ben dealing with MS in recent years. Nothing was found and I never checked for her name. An uneasy feeling led me check last Thursday and the first "hit" was her obituary. Reading it knocked me for a loop, Linda's family created a loving testament to her life and passions, with a link to a website remembering Linda through family photos, where friends could post too.

My message was a belated condolence and explanation that had we known , we would have attended the DC services. Ironically, it was on Patrick's birthday when we were in Cape Cod. W would certainly have changed plans. While my regret is in not having been informed, I understand the family had so many other things to attend to in their time of grief.

I only knew Vee through her posts and as a relative newcomer to her blog. While her posts had been infrequent, I always checked for a current one, which is how I learned of her passing.

Address book of friends 
Why am I sharing? Partly to relieve my sadness at the passing of Linda and Vee. Each was special to many others. But, mostly to share that if you want family to contact friends after your (sorry to say) inevitable passing it might be good to share a friends listing that information with a friends listing. 

In the past few days, blog reading has taken a back seat to sending messages, calling, writing cards and notes, more often than usual, to long-distance friends. I don't want to be someone who, when learning of someone's passing, says "wish I had been in touch." While I am immensely saddened by my friend's death, there's no regrets about not having been in contact over the years.

Certainly like most others, I have contacts on my cell phone, but also keep an old-fashioned name and address book. Entries now are made in pencil vs. ball point pen as there does come the time to update or delete an entry. Does anyone else still use pen and paper address books?

As far as a blog update, Grenville is a co-administrator on this blog. While he posts less often now, he would be able to post any needed update.

On a brighter note, fellow blogger, Jon, has posted his gratitude for everyone's well wishes.  To answer a blogger's question, he's still in Cookeville Medical Center for the foreseeable future. Several bloggers have indicated they will or have posted a card and, as anyone who has been hospitalized knows, these will be much appreciated.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Friday Funnies

At the end of the week, humor is always welcomed. And, while I always enjoy finding fun things on our road trips, there's fun close to home too. Today's post features some bathroom signage.

But, not from bathrooms seen on road trips. These signs are actually hung on the bathroom walls in our apartment. Three of these have traveled with us from our former homes in NJ and VA. These are not the only fun signs around our apt home and be forewarned that more will be included in future posts.

Your turn — do you have any fun signs/sayings displayed in your home? 
If so, we hope they make you smile whenever you see them as ours always do.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the previous post about the hospitalization of a fellow blogger. While not everyone will send a card or note, good thoughts and prayers surely will travel and be appreciated.

There is much beauty in the world and many wonderful people living in it. 
Sunset photo captured yesterday after late afternoon rainstorm
Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
No special weekend plans in NH for us

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Blogger Update

First, the blogger update in the title refers to a person and not the platform.

In early June,  a post about visiting PA family and meeting the newest family grand puppy (French bulldog Gracie) also included this paragraph about a fellow blogger, Jon, in TN who had been going through some tough times and was hospitalized. 

Bloggers become friends through online sharing, some we may be fortunate to meet, most will remain online connections. Like myself, many of you are also concerned when learning that something, joyful or sorrowful, has happened in their lives. Blogger Jon of Lone Wolf Concerto) posted this week that he's hospitalized in the intensive care unit of a TN medical facility. While I'm unsure of specific details, hopefully he would appreciate recovery well wishes from fellow bloggers, also your prayers if you are so inclined. (FYI, Jon's posts may be a bit more direct than some others, just saying.)

He's still hospitalized and has been undergoing chemo plus radiation treatments. Those who have undergone or know those who have done the same know how brutal these can be physically, mentally and emotionally. 

When possible, Jon has posted a few recent updates and mentioned that he had received cards from myself and another blogger. He also included the medical center's address and his room number, which leads me to suspect that he would welcome cards or notes of encouragement from others.

For those of you who might be inclined to do so, here's his name & mailing address:

Jon Varga, Room 604
Cookeville Medical Center
1 Medical Center Blvd
Cookeville, TN 38501 

It's true that U.S. postage has gone up (1st class letters, 66 cents) but $1 store cards are inexpensive. It's a relatively small cost to send someone encouragement and support if anyone wants to do so. (My second one was mailed today.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Rainy Days & Cape Cod

A popular New England destination, Cape Cod is the ninth oldest English place-name in the U.S. It was named in 1602 by Bartholomew Gosnold an English barrister, explorer and privateer after fish seen in the surrounding waters. He also discovered Martha's Vineyard which he named after the wild grapes that covered the land and his late daughter, Martha.

This area is known for many things, such as the seashore, cranberry bogs, salt marshes, historic lighthouses, the Edward Gorey house, the movie Jaws, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and its connection to the Kennedy family. Singer Patti Page popularized it in the 1957 hit song Old Cape Cod, considered the unofficial Cape Cod anthem. (Page recorded it in NYC but didn't visit the area until after the song became a hit.)

Last week we spent several days on the Cape in Yarmouth, MA, on a getaway celebrating Grenville's birthday. (Thanks to all for the πŸŽ‚ well wishes.) He planned to spend several beach time mornings. But, Mother Nature didn't get the message and he only had one beach morning, rainy days the remaining two. When the weather is uncooperative, plans change. What to do on a rainy day? Stay indoors and visit a couple of nearby museums, where we learned a lot of interesting things new to us.

French Cable Station Museum, Orleans, MA
Our first stop was The French Cable Station Museum in Orleans, MA. This unassuming building is on a busy main street near downtown and its look disguises its historical importance. It features
 displays of Atlantic undersea telegraphic cables, instruments, maps, and memorabilia.

Sample of underwater cable
It was built in 1891 by the French Cable Company, which was installing numerous cables in Cape Cod throughout the late 19th century. By 1898, the station was the end point of a 3,200-mile-long trans-Atlantic telegraph cable called "Le Direct" that allowed communication between the U.S. and France. When France surrendered to Nazi Germany in 1940, it was taken over by the federal government for security reasons during WW II. It was returned to the company and resumed operations in 1952 and finally closed in 1959.

In 1972, a group of prominent Orleans residents raised funds to purchase the station from France, and repurpose it as a museum. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places that year. Fortunately the building and its equipment were preserved. Many of the items remain functional and can be tried by visitors. Admission is free; donations are welcomed. On average, about 1,000 people visit the museum each year. 

Visitors can go through the small museum to explore equipment original to the station. Photos, newspaper clippings and other items further document the station's history.

Volunteers staff the museum which features four rooms: Superintendent's office, Operations room, Testing room, and Repair room.

Superintendent's Desk
Walls in the superintendent’s office are covered with photos and news articles of major events in the station's history. Some of these were given to the museum by the Smithsonian Institute. There's also an early copy machine. Every letter written was copied before being sent and this was in the days before photo copies.

Operations Room as it looks today
The operations room was the nucleus of the cable station. It was where messages were received from France, recorded, and re-transmitted to the rest of the country. Most of the equipment here remains functional even today.

In 1927, the message that aviator Charles Lindbergh had landed in Paris came through this station from Paris and was then sent out to the rest of the U.S.

Cable examples, some showing deterioration
The testing room holds equipment that was used to determine the location of a fault or break in the cable. We were told that some of the equipment is still operational and one is quite unique
Heurtley Magnifier, only 1 of 3 still in existence worldwide
The Heurtley Magnifier was developed before vacuum tubes and was used to amplify the weak signal coming from France. It's only one of only three in the world today. 

As its name implies, the repair room housed equipment used to repair the cable and equipment. The room has samples of early submarine telegraph cable and cables that had been under water for years. There also were photos of a repair operation at sea.

We were surprised to learn how much history was contained in this somewhat small house. It was definitely worth a stop and the volunteer member was very informative. There were only a couple of other visitors, so we were not rushed; a good thing on a rainy day.

Marconi-RCA Wireless Museum, Chatham, MA
As if exploring a telegraph station wasn't unique enough, our next stop was at the Marconi-RCA Wireless Museum in North Chatham, MA. Here we learned about how radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi was first involved with wireless transmission in New England and later how ship-to-shore radio played a prominent role.

Dubbed The World’s Greatest Coastal Station, this building was once home to the largest U.S. ship-to-shore radiotelegraph station, known to mariners worldwide as Chatham Radio, WCC. 

Guglielmo Marconi
Its history dates to 1914, with Marconi,  the Italian inventor and electrical engineer, whose Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America continued to pursue the promise of intercontinental wireless with construction of five great high-power stations on the East and West coasts. The company built a wireless receiving station here paired with a transmitting station in Marion, MA, to provide commercial point-to-point radio service between the U.S. and Norway. 

The outbreak of WW I in Europe crippled the Company's interests in America and the facility could not initiate operations. The Massachusetts facilities were incomplete, wireless equipment being manufactured by the parent company in England did not arrive. By the end of WW I, the U.S. had entered a period of isolationism, Marconi’s UK-based company was not welcome and with the intervention of the U.S. government, Marconi’s American assets were acquired by the newly created Radio Corporation of America.  

RCA opened the Massachusetts station in 1920, with circuits to Norway and Germany. Later, the company consolidated its transatlantic operations at a new station on Long Island. Chatham’s transatlantic operations ceased. 

Chatham, MA, 1922 (Internet source)
In April 1921, RCA began maritime service, adapting and improving the existing long-distance facilities to the business of communicating with ships at sea with call letters WCC. First called Marion Radio, it became known as Chatham Radio in the 1930s. 
1920s company advertisement for Chatham/WCC
RCA’s Chatham station was soon recognized as the largest U.S. coastal station.  The conversion of a high-power intercontinental station to expansive maritime operations was a first for RCA. 

Exhibit showing U.S. Navy at Station C
From 1942 through 1945, Chatham Radio played a key role in WW II by helping to defeat Germany during the Battle of the Atlantic. The station intercepted Enigma-encrypted wireless messages from enemy surface vessels and submarines. “Station C” (its US Navy wartime designation) forwarded the intercepts to Washington, DC, for decoding. As control station for the East Coast direction-finding network, Station C also directed the search for telltale radio signals that allowed enemy vessels to be located and tracked.  

In addition to relaying commercial and personal messages to ships, Chatham/WCC providedcommunications to aviators and adventurers such as Charles and Anne Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes. Wireless communication ended isolation at sea and also helped to save many lives.  

At its peak, Chatham Radio/WCC was the largest U.S. coastal station worldwide until 1997, when it fell victim to the advancements of modern communication technology.

Shipboard Radio from S.S. Hope
The museum offers informative displays, interactive exhibits and original videos. Permanent exhibits include videos about the life and legacy of Guglielmo Marconi, the role of maritime radio in world events, the authentic working shipboard radio from the hospital ship SS Hope, and artifacts from important periods in WCC's history. Visitors can practice Morse code. The museum’s Navy Years exhibit includes working WW II Enigma cipher machine simulators to let visitors try message encryption.

Since I mentioned the 1957 song (written by Claire Rothrock, Milton Yakus and Allan Jeffrey)popularized by singer Patti Page, you can listen to Old Cape Cod (apologies for the ear worm). While it's been recorded by other artists including Bing Crosby, Jerry Vale, The Four Freshman, Bette Midler and Anne Murray among others. Page's version warned a Gold Record.
If you like the taste of a lobster stew,
Served by a window with an ocean view,
You're sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod.
This was the first of our two days of rainy day explorations. The second was not to any museums, but quite different and will be shared in a future post.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Friday Funnies

Thanks, to all from Patrick (aka Grenville) for the πŸŽ‚ Birthday wishes. He appreciated all. We spent a few days in Yarmouth, MA, (Cape Cod area). Unfortunately, it rained several days. Beach time was limited, but we found other things to do, details to come. 

Here's an on-the-road sighting, that seems to be truly Open Air Seating
What do you think?
Blog posting and reading have fallen behind this week. We've had some catching up to do on things here at home. It rained (again) this week and more 🌧 is forecast today, but Sat and Sun predicted to be in the mid-80s and rain-free. Thankfully, the Nashua, NH, temps have not been scorchers πŸ₯΅ like many other states. Hope all is well in your part of the country/world.

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
We're both doing separate volunteer projects

Saturday, July 15, 2023

It's July Birthday Time

It's once again time for July family birthday celebrations and with two celebrants, my husband, Patrick (aka Grenville) is celebrating today and oldest granddaughter celebrates next week on a road trip

Here's a look back at his (much) younger days, such a cute fellow. These photos are a among my favorite images and have been posted before at birthday time.
We're spending a few days on the New England coast in Yarmouth, MA, as per the birthday celebrant's wish for sun🌞, sand⛱, surf 🌊. His happy place πŸ˜€.
Happy πŸŽ‚ Birthday to my love♥️and best friend, Patrick, cheers to you! πŸ₯‚ The colorful shirts shown above were birthday gifts from daughters and are imprinted with family photos.
This young lady, oldest granddaughter is celebrating her birthday🎈this weekend. She will be 12 years old, one more year before becoming a teen. πŸŽ‰ 
Best Wishes, if you or anyone you know is celebrating in July.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Friday Funnies

It can certainly be said that this dog is a favored companion, who not only travels in style, but in a convertible no less, and this car may have been a Jaguar.
This driver and her canine companion were seen cruising on Main Street in downtown Nashua, NH, a couple of weeks ago. It goes to show that I never know what to expect be seen on a walk to the library.

The flooding in our neighboring New England state of VT has been terrible to view in news reports this past week. Thankfully, there were no such incidents in Nashua, NH, but we appreciated friends who messaged us to ask if we were OK. We have enjoyed previous visits to VT and hope to visit again in the future. 

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone 
We're heading to Cape Code on a 🚘 trip to celebrate Grenville's πŸŽ‚

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Donut Miss Frosty's

Most people think of lobster or other seafood when considering food choices in Maine, but there's other indulgences as well. In Brunswick, ME, that means donuts.
Selection of donuts at Frosty's Donut Shop in Brunswick, ME
Since we missed celebrating National Donut Day on the first Friday in June last month, we made up for that oversight last weekend.
Frosty's, 54 Maine St, Brunswick, ME
Frosty's founders, June & Bob Frost
Frosty’s Donut Shop is located in the heart of downtown Brunswick, ME, ironically on Maine Street. It was established in 1965 by Bob and June Frost. Within a few years, their selection of traditional donuts, from glazed to frosted became well known in the area leading to a faithful following. Customers either made a stop here as part of their daily routine or found a reason to travel to Brunswick. (Luckily, we were already there for another event.)

The donut shop became an “iconic institution” in the community and recognition in regional and national recognition in publications such as Downeast, Travel & Leisure, and Saveur

The current name and location were not the original shop. The Frosts had originally bought into a Spudnut Donut Shop franchise for an initial investment of $5,000. They opened it near Bowdoin College in Brunswick. 

Vintage Spudnut Donut Ads
Spudnut shops, which predated Dunkin'® Donuts, were selling about 400,000 spudnut donuts made with potato flour annually. The American franchise grew to more than 300 shops at one time. While the parent company no longer exists, about 35 independent shops remain open in nine states. The name was originally coined by company founders Al and Bob Pelton of Salt Lake City, UT, who created a dry potato mix which made it feasible to franchise their creation.

The original recipe is based on a German folk recipe. Spudnuts were advertised with the slogan Coast to coast—Alaska to Mexico. Over the history of Spudnuts, there were over 600 stores throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. A bow-tied donut character, Mr. Spudnut, appeared in ads, restaurants, and parades. In the late 1960s, there were 315 franchise holders, with combined annual sales of $25 million. Spudnut shops were the largest doughnut franchise in the U.S.

Two years after the Frosts relocated to the Maine Street location, business became slow and the shop name was changed to Frosty’s. (I'm not sure if the donuts continued to be made with potato flour.)

Bob and June Frost maintained the popular Frosty’s Donut Shop for 46 years until Bob closed its doors in June 2011, shortly after June's death. 

Nels Omdal and Shelby St. Andre
In 2012, Nels Omdal and his wife Shelby St. Andre, a local couple, who had also been loyal customers purchased Frosty’s. Omdal had a background in food production and restaurant management and his wife had experience in business and finance. They felt they had the skills and drive needed to grow the business throughout the state.

They didn’t know anything about making doughnuts.

The couple stayed faithful to the recipes and business model developed by the Frosts and Bob worked with them in the kitchen. The basic donut recipe remained the same. (Bob Frost died in June 2019 at age 85. )

Running the donut shop meant long hours. After taking over Frosty's, its new owners served donuts 7 days a week.  They expanded the business to four more retail locations throughout Maine—Augusta, Bath, Gardiner and Freeport—and delivered breakfast items to over 40 locations statewide. When the Covid pandemic hit, all shops were voluntarily closed. The Gardiner and Freeport closures closed permanently to maintain the long-term health of the company according to its owners.

Grenville & blueberry fritter
If you're in Brunswick, ME, on a weekend and looking for a sweet treat, stop into Frosty’s at 54 Maine St. The donut shop is open Friday to Sunday, 7 am to 2 pm, takeout only, no delivery. The menu includes raised donuts, cake donuts, rings, glazed twists, and bagels as well as hot and cold drinks.

In 2023, Frosty’s owners opened a production facility in Brunswick and now deliver breakfast items to over 40 locations throughout the state.

Although ALL of the donuts looked delicious, we can personally recommend the fritters. Grenville enjoyed a blueberry-filled one and mine was the traditional apple-filled variety.

Not only were both were both delicious πŸ˜‹ but, of course, calories don't count when traveling πŸ˜‰. . . isn't that right?

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Nothing Lasts Forever

Spoiler Alert: This post is a potpourri of articles read online recently that caught my attention, most even more than the "news" stories.

The bad news is nothing lasts forever, the good news is nothing lasts forever. 

That's especially true when it comes to the US Postal System. 
Soon to cost 66 cents

This Sunday, July 9, the price of First-Class Mail® Forever stamps is going up, again — 63 to 66 cents.

In an April filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) news release, the USPS cited the increase was needed to offset higher operating expenses fueled by inflation and the effects of a previously defective pricing model. The new rates are projected to keep the USPS competitive while providing the agency with needed revenue. Seems that reasoning has been used before 😲.

Didn't this happen earlier in 2023?
YES, the most recent increase (before this one) was just six months ago in January when a first-class Forever stamp went from 60 to 63 cents. This weekend's hike is the fifth increase since early 2019, back then a Forever stamp cost 50 cents. In 2021, a first-class stamp went from 55 to 58 cents. It's been an uphill rise.

Higher postage prices have not come without criticism. Many folks, including postal experts, have noted that customers now pay more and get less for their $. 

Want to avoid paying more?
Go to your local post office and buy Forever stamps at the current 63 cents before Sunday. They remain valid regardless of price increases and can be used on all first class mail. I bought more this week.

Since 2011, all U.S. first-class stamps have been Forever stamps, no monetary value is shown. They're known generically as non-denominated postage or non-value indicator (NVI) postage.

It isn't over . . .
Because the USPS plans to increase prices twice a year cautioning that increases may be steep. Starting in 2023, there will be twice yearly price adjustments (January and July) that continue to 2024. It wasn't explained how much costs would go up.

There's more . . . 
Not just the cost of stamps is climbing. The price of domestic postcards will be higher as well as a 1-ounce letter to another country. The Postal Service is also seeking price adjustments for Special Services products like Certified Mail®, Post Office Box rental fees, money order fees and the cost of insurance when mailing something.

Here's a rundown on certain mail costs after July 9:
  • Forever Stamps increase from 63 cents to 66 cents
  • 1-ounce letter increases from 63 cents to 66 cents
  • 1-ounce metered letter increases from 60 cents to 63 cents
  • Domestic postcards increases from 48 cents to 51 cents
  • 1-ounce letter mailed to another country increases from $1.45 to $1.50
Vintage U.S. postage
Ironically this month, National US Postage Stamp Day was July 1. The U.S. issued its first postage stamp on July 1, 1847, at that time, stamps were not required. 

A letter could be mailed without a stamp and delivery was paid for by the recipient. In 1855, the postage stamp became mandatory when mailing a letter. The first images on the first postage stamps depicted Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.

Although, I'm a very frequent stamp user for mailing cards and letters, I agree that service is not what is was when postage costs were far less. It seems that instead of encouraging more users, the USPS is actively discouraging them. Those once happy traditions of birthday and holiday card sending and receiving may become obsolete.

Ketchup (or catsup) — refrigerate or not?
Recently, Ketchup manufacturer H.J. Heinz attempted to settle an ongoing debate about where ketchup should be kept by tweeting the company’s thoughts on the matter. The online debate started when Heinz UK tweeted: FYI: Ketchup. goes. in. the. Fridge!

The company conducted an online poll asking people where they stored ketchup. 
Results: About 60% of respondents said they keep the condiment refrigerated.

And, that caused social media users to reply with comments like these:

Why isn't ketchup in the fridge at supermarkets and restaurants?

Heinz only wants it in the fridge because you look in the fridge, more than you do in the cupboard, thus you’ll be tempted to use it more often.

Many restaurants and fast food places don't refrigerate ketchup because they go through it so quickly that it doesn't have time to spoil. 

USDA says refrigeration isn't needed
On its website, the United States Department of Agriculture stated that shelf-stable foods such as ketchup do not need to be refrigerated and are safe indefinitely. But, the agency cautioned that ketchup may not be as fresh and may change texture and color if kept past the expiration date. Be sure to check those dates.

If you don't want to refrigerate condiments after opening, the USDA had this guide:
  • Ketchup, cocktail or chili sauce – refrigerate 6 months
  • Chutney – refrigerate 1 to 2 months
  • Horseradish – refrigerate 3 to 4 months
  • Mustard – refrigerate 12 months
  • Olives – refrigerate 2 weeks
  • Pickles – refrigerate1 to 3 months
Catsup or Ketchup?
Heinz Ketchup display
Ketchup is the dominant term in American English and Canadian English. Catsup is commonly used in some southern U.S. states and Mexico. Most ketchup or catsup contains the same basic ingredients: tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, allspice, cloves and cinnamon.

The Heinz Company, synonymous with ketchup for most didn't produce a tomato-based ketchup until 1876. It was originally marketed as Heinz Tomato Catsup switching to ketchup in the 1880s to distinguish it from competitors.

The company’s 57 varieties slogan, a key part of its early strategy to attract consumers, is central to the brand’s identity and still on Heinz ketchup bottles. That number is completely made up. There weren’t 57 Heinz varieties when the slogan was created in 1896 and there are far more than 57 now, but hundreds of Heinz varieties.

Largest catsup
The word, catsup is displayed on the giant label of the World's Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville, Ill, 
on a 3-acre site, where the product was once produced. If we ever embark on another cross-country road trip, this roadside attraction will be on our to-see list.

The bottle was constructed in 1949 by the G.S. Suppiger company, which owned a Brooks Catsup factory at the site. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the giant bottle is also a water tower owned by a private company and local residents handle promotion of the attraction.

Our open bottle is always stored in the fridge — How about yours? 

Are almonds nuts?
No, not in the sense of craziness, but they not a nut according to some sources.

In the botanical world, a nut is a dry, hard-shelled fruit. Almonds have a fleshy outer layer. Therefore, technically are not nuts. (Chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts fit the true definition of a nut.) Almonds are seeds harvested from the fruit of the almond tree, prunus dulcis, native to the Mediterranean. 
Almond fruit: online source

Almonds don't fall under the botanical definition of nuts as according to the USDA. Nuts are single-seed fruit with a high oil content, enclosed in a leathery or solid outer layer. Almonds grow in the middle of a fleshy fruit, so are not classified a nut.

Currently, 80% of the world’s almond supply is produced in California’s farmlands; the other 20% in Mediterranean countries like Spain and Italy. California alone produces more than 25 different species of almonds valued at $4.7 billion

The name, almond, comes from the common name of the tree species, but the name is used to identify the edible seed found in the fruit from the tree. The almond tree can grow up to 15 feet tall. It's known for its aromatic, white-pinkish flowers pollinated by honeybees and grows fruit called a drupe which resembles a peach or plum. The drupe fruit contains a small pit in the middle exposed when the fleshy exterior dries and splits open. The pit is machine harvested for consumption.

Would you sail on something this BIG?
Icon of the Seas, a vessel primed to be the world’s largest cruise ship has completed its first round of sea trials ahead of likely delivery in October this year. The first test lasted four days on open water, and more tests are scheduled for later this year.
Icon of the Seas, world's largest cruise ship, during sea trial: online source
This Royal Caribbean International ship recently completed its required first round of sea trials and sailed the open ocean for the first time. Before it debuts, it will complete a second round of sea trials to ensure that everything is operational and issues resolved before passengers board. By January 2024, guests will be ready to set sail from Miami for Caribbean waters. 

Icon of the Seas waterpark: online source
Construction began in April 2022 at Meyer Turku shipyard, one of Europe’s leading shipbuilders, in Turku, Finland. The ship is 365 meters long (nearly 1,200 feet) weighs a projected 250,800 tons, and will hold 5,610 passengers, 2,350 crew and will boost the world’s largest waterpark at sea with six water slides. It also includes seven pools and nine whirlpools for water fun on the water.

The current title holder of world’s largest cruise ship is Wonder of the Seas, another vessel in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Slightly smaller at 1,188 feet, its inaugural voyage was in 2022.

We know many who are avid cruisers, including my cousin and a fellow blogger whose husband was an officer aboard several very large ships. 

A trip on a ship this size or even smaller is not for us — How about you?

Yes, this was a(nother) longish post, folks. Hope you enjoyed the recap of some recent news events, some more noteworthy than others. Remember to get extra U.S. stamps before Sunday — the Forever ones, of course !

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone 
We will be in Brunswick, ME, for Lobstercon, a ham radio event. It's a strange name, but it's happening in New England and πŸ¦ž is included . Grenville is participating; the wife of another attendee and myself are going to the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport, ME. 
My not good images of Nashua fireworks this week

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Celebrating Independence

Mural in Nashua, NH
Today is Independence Day, a day of celebration that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the 
United States on July 4, 1776. 

It's the most iconic American holiday and traditionally is the biggest holiday of the summer season when many folks travel by cars, planes or trains as they head off for summer vacation time. Many stores celebrate with sales.

Pyrotechnic displays, more commonly called fireworks, usually cap off July 4 celebrations in many U.S. towns; however, recent shootings have caused many folks to be nervous about loud sounds in their neighborhoods. 
Online Source:  Compound Interest Website
Fireworks release vibrant colors skyward, but unfortunately the colors come from chemical compounds that release smoke and gases into the air. Environmentalists have long been concerned that fireworks cause too much air pollution. According to one online environmental site: The temporary enjoyment of fireworks releases contaminants that not only affect air quality, but can contribute to climate change, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, sulphur dioxide, and particulate matter.

Mishandled fireworks have caused serious injury to many people. In 2022, there were over 10,000 fireworks-related injuries, nearly three quarters of which happened during the one-month period around July 4th. Most victims were male, burns were the most common injury and most came from firecrackers and sparklers.
Nashua, NH pyrotechnics

It's not only the environmental or safety impact of fireworks that's dampened the spirits of many holiday celebrants today. According to several recent articles, many Americans are not celebrating the holiday the same as before, whether for reasons of traffic, crowds or the current political climate, and overall world events. Still others sense a loss of patriotism.

Nevertheless, many favorite traditions will prevail on this holiday, including parades, concerts, singing patriotic songs, baseball games, carnivals, and family gatherings. 

Here's some unique New England trivia about this American holiday:
  • Massachusetts was the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday July 3, 1781
  • Bristol, Rhode Island, has the longest running 4th of July parade
  • It's a tradition in New England to eat salmon on the 4th of July (new one to me)
  • In 1866, a July 4 firecracker started the Great Portland Fire in Maine. The conflagration, the worst to date in the U.S. burned 1800 buildings. 
And, even more July 4 trivia . . .
  • The Liberty Bell is tapped 13 times on July 4; it hasn't been rung since 1846
  • There have been 27 different versions of the U.S. flag
  • Only one U.S. president was born on July 4: Calvin Coolidge (1872)
  • Three presidents have died on July 4: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (1826) and James Monroe (1831)
  • President Zachary Taylor fell ill at a July 4 celebration and died July 9, 1850
  • President John Adams thought Independence Day should be celebrated on July 2
  • Only two men signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776: John Hancock and Charles Thompson
  • The national anthem wasn't The Star-Spangled Banner until 1931
  • Nathan's Famous 4th of July hot dog eating contest began in 1916
  • One World Trade Center in New York was designed to be 1,776 feet tall
  • The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first newspaper to print the Declaration of Independence
  • There are 31 towns in the U.S. named Liberty; largest is Liberty, Missouri
  • There were only some 2.5 million people living in the U.S. in 1776
  • Over 16,000 fireworks displays occur each year; Americans spend over $1 billion on fireworks every July 4
As for Grenville and myself, we're spending today at home with no family or friends gathering, no downtown parade or concert, and no shopping (not even online). We're not even cooking traditional hamburgers and hotdogs; Grenville is preparing a surf and turf dinnerπŸ˜‹.
Nashua, NH, 7-day forecast
It's just as well as today's forecast doesn't look encouraging for any outdoor holiday activities. The City of Nashua moved its annual fireworks display to Wed, July 5.
No matter where or how you're spending this holiday, Enjoy it safely!