Friday, February 26, 2016


Remember as a child learning the verse:

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November
All the rest have 31,
Except for February.

What about February?  Well, in three out of four February’s there are 28 days, but in a Leap Year there are 29 days.  This year is a Leap Year and, accordingly, this February 29 is Leap Day.  Why is this necessary?

At the decree of Julius Caesar in 46 B.C., one day was added to the calendar in order to synchronize our calendar with the Earth’s orbit around the sun.  To simplify, the Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to orbit the sun every year.  It’s that .25 of a day that creates the need for a leap year every four years.

Like many astrological events, Leap Day has a tradition.  In Ireland and England tradition allows women to propose marriage to a man on that day.  It is questionable how this tradition came to be.  One belief is that in 5th century Ireland St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick that women had to wait too long to be asked to marry, and St. Patrick decided that on Leap Day it should be allowed.  Another belief is that the five-year-old Queen Margaret of Scotland enacted a law setting fines for men who turned down marriage proposals from women during leap year.  Regardless of when or how this tradition came to be, it appears from a quick review of YouTube videos that this tradition continues throughout the world.  Fortunately, in our modern age, it is now okay for women to propose marriage on any day of the year.

Of course, the tradition was captured on postcards during the Postcard Era in the early 1900’s.  Here are two examples from my collection.  The first card is quite serious, a direct request for marriage.  This postcard was sent to Mr. Chas. P. Arthur, Hampton, Iowa.  The sender wrote:  "Wish I was with you or you were with me... either one would be all right.  Don't you think?  Lovingly, Alethie".

"My dear and much respected sir, I send you this your love to stir; I ask your heart not in a jest, and hope you'll grant my fond request.  I'll be your wife until you die.  And now await your prompt reply."

The postcard above was postmarked April 8, 1909, and mailed to Miss Etta Tohd (?!?), Maiden Rock, Wisconsin.

Celebrate this Leap Day by watching the delightful rom-com, "Leap Year."  Spoiler Alert:  If you haven't seen the movie, don't watch this film clip!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


I just had to share this with you.  Have a laugh-out-loud day!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Gordon Ramsey has been a Michelin rated restaurateur and TV personality for years.  Perhaps you've seen him on Kitchen Nightmares berating restaurant owners, chefs and staff.  If so, you know that he could not be more outspoken, or use more profanity if he tried!  To me it's all very fascinating and I was excited to pick up his 2006 book, "Roasting In Hell's Kitchen."   Granted, the book is dated, but it was written by Ramsey, about Ramsey, and from what I can tell, things haven't changed much for him.  Yes, new restaurants have opened and other restaurants have closed; TV programs have changed; and in many ways his life has changed.  However, none of that changes the fundamental essence of who Gordon Ramsey is and where he came from.  To get that, you will want to read this book.

It is clear that Ramsey's childhood significantly shaped him.  The family moved continuously as Ramsey's musician, alcoholic father pursued pipe dreams, frequently, taking out his failures and frustrations on the family by physically abusing them.  He taught Ramsey how to swim by holding his head under water for minutes.  Cruel!  It seemed to Ramsey that the only way that he could please his father was by playing soccer.  He was good at it and he pursued it with a passion, achieving a commendable level of success.  After a serious injury, however, his hopes of becoming a soccer pro were dashed.  By the time Ramsey was sixteen, he had had enough of his father's abuse and moved out of the house.  By then he was already pursuing a career as a chef.

Gordon Ramsey is not a person who has ever cut corners.  It is clear that from the time he was a small child, to present day, he is all in on everything he does (even the swearing!).  In the book, Ramsey walks us through the steps that brought him to his career successes, which are undeniable.  To his credit, he has also managed to do the necessary work to build a strong family with his wife of nearly twenty years.

This is an interesting story, and not a big time commitment to read.  The challenges Ramsey has overcome are intense and most people would not have made it.  His pursuit of perfection seems to have saved him, and now we can enjoy his accomplishments.

I absolutely recommend this book.