Feb 16

Happy Chinese New Year!

 

Our wonderful daughter-in-law is Chinese, so we are celebrating the Year of the Dog.  (Mimi likes that, too and thinks that every year should be about and for her!)

 

 

 

Feb 14

Today is the Beginning of Lent So…

 

Last year, a bit before Lent, my husband came home from the grocery store with Hot Cross Buns.  I was surprised because they had never had them before Ash Wednesday in past years.  I almost refused to eat them because they were “seasonally incorrect”.  Of course, I did try one to be sure that they weren’t mislabeled or anything…

I’d never even heard of HCB before college.  My freshman year in the dining commons at UMass Amherst changed all that.  Huge pans of actually hot, cross buns.  We actually even put butter on them, too.  No wonder the “Freshman 15” was a problem.

I’ve made a fairly exhaustive study of the local grocery stores’ versions and the one from  Giant come out on top.  Surprisingly, Wegmans isn’t the winner in this case.

Looking for a video on the history of HCB, I came across one for making these at home.

Maybe that wouldn’t be a good thing!

 

A bit of HCB trivia: English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow moldy during the subsequent year.

Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone ill is said to help them recover.

If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck.

If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.

 

Turns out there’s also a “Not Cross Bun” which is a variation on the hot cross bun. It uses the same ingredients but instead of having a “cross” on top, it is has a smiley face in reference to it being “not cross” or “angry”.

The not cross bun was first sold commercially in 2014 by an Australian bakery in response to supermarkets selling hot cross buns as early as Boxing Day (December 26)

 

Feb 04

Sean Connery and Bagpipes

 

This video just came up on my Facebook feed this morning but I hadn’t seen it before.  Even though Washington is misspelled, this is still a fantastic performance for Sean Connery in 1999.

Sean Connery was honored at the Kennedy Center for lifetime achievements. The music consists of the Washington Pipe Band, Alasdair Fraser, Davidson School of Scottish Dance, Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis.

 

Feb 02

Happy Groundhog Day!

 

Groundhog Day is observed on February 2nd, each year in the United States and Canada.

For a nice welcomed break during the winter, on this day the groundhog awakens from his nap and goes outside to see if he can see his shadow. It is believed by many that if the groundhog sees his shadow that there will then be six more weeks of winter. If this is so, he then heads back into his den and goes back to sleep. If he is not able to see his shadow, the groundhog remains outside and, supposedly, spring is just around the corner.

Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has been chosen as the site for the annual Groundhog day event. Thousands of people come to the town of Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day for this day of celebration.

Although already a well known day, Groundhog Day received widespread attention as a result of the 1993 film Groundhog Day, which was set in Punxsutawney, PA.

 

 

 

Feb 02

Today’s “Who Knew?”

 

Interesting factoid from the Who Knew category…

Italian anatomist Antonio Maria Valsalva was born on this day in 1732. He is credited with developing the Valsalva maneuver, the process of trying to blow air out of your nose while it is plugged in order to clear the airways of the ears.

He also coined the term Eustachian tube and he described the aortic sinuses of Valsalva in his writings, published posthumously in 1740.

If you want to say read this during dinner tonight, here’s the correct pronunciation:

 

Jan 27

Happy Anniversary, 2018!

 

I wasn’t home this year on our anniversary – the first one I’ve missed.  I was in Southport, NC for the memorial celebration of our church’s former music director.  Tom would have gone with me, but he was dealing with house issues that I’ll be posting about in the near future.


Another anniversary rolls around, the 45th, to be exact.  

I always like to check out this picture of our wedding expenses.  We have it framed and sitting on our mantle.

 

Tom paid $50.26 (blood tests and wedding ring!) and my costs (I made my own dress) were $29.25.

We were lucky.  My dad was the minister at the Barre (MA) Congregational Church so he didn’t charge us to perform the service.  The women of the church provided the reception in the parsonage.  My mom chipped in the flowers.

Well worth the cost!

 

Barre Congregational Church

 

Our honeymoon was in upstate New York so Tom could look for a job.  My only memories of that trip were the snow coming in under the door of our motel and Tom not getting a job.

After that, we drove back to Boston where we rented the bottom floor of my mother-in-law’s house.  In Dorchester, many of the homes were triple deckers and families could have one, two or three floors.

This isn’t where we lived, but a very similar look to her house.

 

We got all moved in and painted everything (we decided to paint my sewing room a cheery yellow.  The walls just sucked in the yellow paint and we had to use many, many coats). So, Tom got a job in Washington, DC.

So, we packed up and found a small apartment in Alexandria, VA.

That apartment was so small…when my parents came to visit, they slept on cots in the living room with their feet under my newly-acquired piano.

Then we moved to Holmes Run Parkway (also in Alexandria), Silver Spring, MD, Wilmington, DE, and finally settled in Fairfax, VA.

Five years ago to celebrate our anniversary, Tom had a heart attack.  I wrote a lot about that here: https://maryomedical.com/2017/01/27/giving-thanks-day-3/

 

I am hoping for a nice, quiet day today!

Jan 25

Tonight is Burns Night!

 

Burns Night commemorates the life of the bard (poet) Robert Burns, who was born on January 25, 1759.

 

 

The day also celebrates Burns’ contribution to Scottish culture. Burns’ best-known work is “Auld Lang Syne”.

We were at the Edinburgh Tattoo for this performance but I didn’t take this video.

 

 

Haggis, neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes) are traditionally eaten in Scotland on Burns Night with a dessert of cranachan.

 

 

Bringing in the haggis and addressing it (of course)

 

 

I have never had haggis and intend never to have any!  Not even haggis-flavored potato chips or pizza.

Jan 24

National Compliment Day

compliment

 

National Compliment Day.  Give an extra compliment on National Compliment Day which is observed annually on January 24.

A compliment has a powerful effect. It can instill confidence in a child, or validate someone’s hard work.

 

Jan 14

Greyfriar’s Bobby

 

When we were in Scotland a couple years ago, we walked to Edinburgh Castle and back from hotel a couple times.

I had never heard of Greyfriar’s Bobby until our bus tour the second day although we had walked by the statue 3 times already!

On our 4th pass-by, we saw several people taking pictures of the statue.  I guess they knew.

Bobby was a Skye Terrier who became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for supposedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he died himself on 14 January 1872.

The story continues to be well known in Scotland, through several books and films, and a prominent commemorative statue and nearby graves act as a tourist attraction.

Each year on the 14th of January there is an event in Greyfriars Church Yard honoring the loyalty of Greyfriars Bobby. The inscription on his memorial reads ” Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all”. He had faithfully guarded the grave of his master John Gray for 14 years after he passed away. The minister of Greyfriars and the Lord Provost of Edinburgh were the key speakers.

 

Jan 13

Today is… National Rubber Ducky Day!

 

According to a 1973 Sesame Street calendar, Rubber Duckie’s Birthday is January 13 so around the country it’s National Rubber Ducky Day! A friend of Ernie and Big Bird, Duckie made his debut in a February 1970 episode.

The rubber ducky (also spelled duckie) has come a long way from his first concept as a chew toy for children. While the origin of the first rubber ducky is uncertain, many rubber molded toys from dolls to those in various animal shapes came about when rubber manufacturing developed in the late 1800s.

During World Wars I and II, rubber was a valuable commodity which was rationed, and by the 1940s with the advent of plastic, the rubber ducky began being produced in vinyl and plastic.

The earliest patent for a rubber duck toy was patented in 1928 by Landon Smart Lawrence. His design was for a bath toy which was weighted and when tipped would return to its upright position. The sketch included with the patent was that of a duck.

Russian Sculptor Peter Ganine sculpted many animal figures. One, a duck, he later designed and patented it into a floating toy which closely resembles the rubber ducky we have become familiar with today.

Sales of the iconic yellow rubber ducky we’ve come to know today soared in Britain in 2001. Why? A British Tabloid, The Sun, reported Queen Elizabeth II had a rubber duck in her bathroom that wore an inflatable crown.

The rubber ducky became a Toy Hall of Fame inductee in 2013. Founded in 1998, the Hall of Fame has only inducted 52 other toys.

 

 

 

The now world famous giant rubber duck, by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, has sailed into the Port of Los Angeles. The six-storey-tall bath toy has made its west coast debut to take part in their Tall Ships Festival parade. The duck has also appeared in Australia, Belgium, Japan, New Zealand and Brazil. Earlier this year, versions of the massive inflatable duck were in Asia, including Beijing’s harbour and Taiwan, where the duck actually exploded and fell apart while on display. Report by Sarah Kerr.

 

 

 

Did you know that the City of Fairfax Regional Library has a Rubber Ducky collection?

Go on a scavenger hunt to discover more than 200 ducks hiding throughout the building and are on display.  The Rubber Ducky is the library’s mascot.

 

And, finally, a little history lesson:

 

 

And, the final word…

 

 

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