The Fourth of July – How Much Do You Know?

Our Head of Adult Services, Bill, has some Fourth of July facts for you:
The Fourth of July –  also known as Independence Day – is the day we celebrate our country’s birthday. Think you know all there is to know about it? The library’s here to help you celebrate with some fun facts and other ways to learn about democracy and the founding of our nation!

Did you know?

Yankee Doodle” is a well-known American song, the early versions of which date to before the Seven Years’ War and the American War for Independence.  It is the official state anthem of Connecticut. The melody can be traced back to folk songs of Medieval Europe.

In a bizarre coincidence, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826 — the nation’s 50th birthday. The two founding fathers and political adversaries died within five hours of each other. 

Americans consume roughly 150 million hot dogs on the Fourth of July enough to stretch from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles five times!

More Fourth Fun Facts:

 

The Declaration of Independence:

The Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed on July 4, 1776.
On July 4, 1776, Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence, and as a result the date is celebrated as Independence Day. Nearly a month would go by, however, before the actual signing of the document took place. Most of the delegates signed on August 2, but several signed on a later date. (Two others, John Dickinson and Robert R. Livingston, never signed at all.)
One signer of the Declaration of Independence later recanted. On November 30, 1776, delegate Richard Stockton from Princeton, New Jersey was captured by the British and thrown in jail. After months of brutal treatment, a broken and sickly Stockton renounced his signature on the Declaration of Independence and swore his allegiance to King George III.
There is something written on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
In the movie “National Treasure,” Nicholas Cage’s character claims that the back of the Declaration contains a treasure map with encrypted instructions from the founding fathers, written in invisible ink. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There is, however, a simpler message, written upside-down across the bottom of the signed document: “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” It’s thought that the text was added as a label.

Read more about it!

ADULTS:

KIDS:

 

Cap off your Independence Day celebration with some fireworks! Here’s where to find them:

Embracing Earth Day

In January 1969, off the shores of Santa Barbara, California, on oil rig received a waiver to use a protective casing 61 feet shorter than Federal regulation allowed. The rig exploded with such force the sea floor cracked in 5 places. Three million gallons of crude left a 35-mile oil slick on California’s shores, and television brought images of ruined beaches and dying, oil-soaked animals into every home.

It was the flashpoint of the modern environmental movement.

So horrified were people that politicians banded together to pass the Environmental Protection Act (1970), the Clean Air and Water Act (1972), and the Endangered Species Act (1973) as they realized the impact pollution was having on the country. And spearheading that, as a result of that oil spill, Earth Day was born on April 22, 1970, to raise awareness and bring people together to discuss environmental issues.

The Troubling Truth

Earth in 1970 was a very sorry place. We knew we were in trouble since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring brought toxic issues to the forefront in 1962, but we did little. Air pollution killed scores of people through respiratory disease (a 1952 smog inversion killed 12,000 people in London. A 1966 attack in New York City killed 168 people in just 3 days. Smog.) Factories, farms, and mines dumped waste everywhere. Love Canal was killing children with 30-year old toxic waste. The Bald Eagle, symbol of our country, was hovering at less than 500 nesting pairs remaining, and (by 1987) the California Condor would drop to 27 remaining individuals, due to DDT (which made eggs fragile) and lead poisoning. The dropping rates of biodiversity were becoming obvious.

Environmental Victories

And with all the discussion and science, changes began to happen. DDT was banned in 1972. Leaded gasoline was phased out in 1973. Lead-based household paint was banned in 1978. Flame retardants were phased out of infant clothing (because babies have such capacity to spontaneously combust after sunset). Pesticides were examined, and many were quickly banned from use. And amazingly, the Earth began to recover. Today the Bald Eagle is off the endangered species list, with more than 5,000 nesting pairs noted – I almost drove off the highway when I saw one sitting on a light post in the Catskills. A living, wild, Bald Eagle. A few California Condors have been re-released into the wild, with more than 400 individuals now living wild or in captivity. New trucks and buses have 99% fewer emissions than those in 1970. The Hudson River now has fish again.

A Long Way Still to Go

While Earth Day and a commitment to protecting our environment – and thus ourselves – has spread around the world, the world remains a very, very polluted place. Toxins from the 70’s still lurk in the oceans. Oil spills remain in beach sand and marshes. The US boasts more than 1300 Superfund sites for government clean-up – 26 in Connecticut, and a former one here in Cheshire. Around the world, developing countries lack regulations and power to deal with toxic waste – China’s air quality is deadly due to coal-fired factories belching out pollution. Africa is poisoned by heavy metal mining. India suffers from toxic manufacturing chemicals. Lake Karachay in Russia is the most polluted place on Earth: an old dumping ground for nuclear waste, standing on the shores of the lake will kill a human in no more than an hour – far more deadly than the radioactive Chernobyl or Fukushima disasters, which will haunt us for thousands of years to come. Microbeads are choking animal life. Pesticides believed to be linked to some forms of autism still hide in lakes, and toys, furniture, and clothing manufactured in Asia can still contain lead and chemicals long-banned elsewhere.

The Importance of Individuals

While we may blow off our green recycling bins and never return our bottles, those little things, combined, make a big impact. Recycling aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy needed to produce new ones from ore. One ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, lessening the greenhouse effect. One ton of recycled plastic saves 16 barrels of oil – $1,000 per ton. Multiply that by all the people in your town, your state, your region – and think how that snowballs. So celebrate your cleaner environment on April 22. Plant a tree. Pick up garbage on the side of the road. Recycle your bottles. Take a walk and look at all the diversity of trees and flowers and birds around you, and breathe deep of air that doesn’t burn your nose and eyes and make you cough (does anyone else remember the stink of the Uniroyal plant when the wind would shift in 1970’s summers?) Marvel at the sight of fish in the Naugatuck River, where nothing survived before. A clean planet is in our grasp. Give a hoot, don’t pollute, and save paper by checking these books out from the library!

            

                                  

                                  

 

Twelve Books for Christmas

The Cheshire Library has a lot of new books to help brighten your holiday. Here’s a sampler:

1. Christmas in a Cowboy’s Arms (Romance)

A Christmas anthology. Each story features rugged cowboys, the women who’ve lassoed their hearts…and the Christmas miracles that bring them together. Whether it’s a lonely spinster finding passion at last…an infamous outlaw-turned-lawman reaffirming the love that keeps him whole…a lost and broken drifter discovering family in unlikely places…a Texas Ranger risking it all for one remarkable woman…two lovers bringing together a family ripped apart by prejudice…or reunited lovers given a second chance to correct past mistakes…a Christmas spent in a cowboy’s arms is full of hope, laughter, and―most of all―love.

2. Christmas with Southern Living 2017 (Cookbook)

For 2017, Christmas with Southern Living is completely new, with all of the menu and décor ideas that you’ve come to expect, along with more than 100 recipes especially created for holiday cooking, baking, entertaining, and gift giving. This year’s edition includes menus and decorating ideas for every corner of your home, as well as tips and tricks on surprising ways to use leftovers, serve dishes, and more!

3. The Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost (Mystery)

When Holly White’s fiancé cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime — exactly what the doctor prescribed. However,  her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.

4. Home for Christmas by Holly Chamberlin (Fiction)

At first glance, Nell King’s cozy home in Yorktide, Maine, seems a step down from the impeccably decorated Boston house she shared with her husband. But in the six years since he abruptly left to marry another woman, Nell and her almost-grown daughters have found real happiness and comfort here. Now, faced with what may be their last Christmas together,  Nell is eager to make this holiday picture-perfect. But there’s a complication–and an opportunity . . . Nell’s first love, now a successful novelist, is in town for a book signing.

5. A Scandal in Battersea by Mercedes Lackey (Mystery)

Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White and their ward Suki are celebrating Chritmas with their friends, Doctor John Watson, and his wife Mary, both Elemental Masters. However,  there are dark forces, powers older than mankind, powers that come awake on Christmas Eve. Women begin disappearing in the dark of night.  The whispers only begin when they start to reappear—because when they do, they are no longer sane.  And when Nan and Sarah and the Watsons are called on to examine these victims, they discover that it was no ordinary horror of the streets that drove them mad.

6. The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers (Mystery)

Nine mall Santas must find the imposter among them. An elderly lady seeks peace from her murderously loud neighbors at Christmastime. A young woman receives a mysterious invitation to Christmas dinner with a stranger. Niccolò Machiavelli sets out to save an Italian city. Sherlock Holmes’s one-time nemesis Irene Adler finds herself in an unexpected tangle in Paris while on an espionage assignment. Jane Austen searches for the Dowager Duchess of Wilborough’s stolen diamonds. These and other adventures  will whisk readers away to Christmases around the globe.

7. Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (Fiction)

In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold. But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.

8. Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season by Elisabet der Nederlanden (Cookbook)

This instant holiday classic is packed with 50 recipes, each gorgeously photographed and meticulously tested, along with dozens of decorating and packaging ideas. Filled with reimagined favorites like Giant Molasses Spice Cookies and Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies; confections like Peppermint Bark, Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle, and Dark Chocolate–Hazelnut Fudge; and detailed instructions for gorgeous gingerbread houses, cookie place cards, and edible ornaments, this is a cookie book like no other.

9. The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Brown (Mystery)

When private detective Molly Murphy Sullivan and her husband, Daniel, are invited for Christmas at a mansion on the Hudson, they gratefully accept, expecting a peaceful and relaxing holiday season. Not long after they arrive, however,  they learn that the host couple’s young daughter wandered out into the snow ten years ago and was never seen again.  No ransom note. No body ever found.  Then, on Christmas Eve, there is a knock at the door and a young girl stands there. ‘I’m Charlotte,’ she says. ‘I’ve come home.’

10. Mr. Dickens and His Carol: A Novel of Christmas Past by Samantha Silva (Fiction)

Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is a  flop, the critics have turned against him, and relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. Frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace in his great palace of thinking, the city of London itself. On one of his long night walks he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who propels him on a Scrooge-like journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, friendship, ambition, and love.

11. Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire (Fiction)

Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of this mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier– the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s fairy tale ballet– who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.

12. The Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak (Fiction)

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years Olivia,  Emma and Andrew Birch’s elder daughter, will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, has just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, and she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family. For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity.  In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…

Christmas Comfort Classics

A library patron recently recommended a cookbook to me that brought back memories of Christmases past (without the ghosts!)

The  book is  Christmas Comfort Classics: A festive collection of warm and cozy comfort foods plus sweet ideas for sharing with family & friends.

A spiral-bound book with chapters titled with feel-good labels such as “Frosty Morning Breakfasts” and “Cozy Meals for Busy Days”, this cookbook delivers up such treats as Apricot-Almond Coffee Cake, Wonderful Winter Chowder, and Apple-Cranberry Bake. I got hungry just reading the titles. Each recipe is prefaced with a short tale from the contributor, reminiscing about a past holiday or family gathering and is followed by a holiday tip such as how to add holiday fragrance to a room or how to make your own tree ornaments.

There is one recipe, Connecticut Supper, that, being a Connecticut resident, immediately caught my eye. Ground beef, potatoes, and cheddar cheese plus cream of mushroom soup. It immediately conjured a kitchen warm with good scents, keeping the cold and dark winter night at bay.

It’s not all plain cooking, though!  You can find recipes for Sour Cream Spaghetti,  Warm Cranberry-Honey Brie, Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms, Port Wine Cranberry Dressing and more. Who says cozy can’t be special?

I’m not someone who adores cooking but this book has me interested in trying some of these recipes this winter. So thank you, dear library patron, for your recommendation. It’s going to make my holiday season.

No matter which holiday you celebrate, we have many holiday and cozy cookbooks on our shelves that can give you some great new ideas for your own celebration. Take a look:

Holiday Cookbooks

Comfort Food

3 Ways to Enjoy a Minimalist Holiday

christmas-fireplaceA blog post that dares to ask the question, is it possible to celebrate the holidays without the clutter and overabundance that characterizes most households during December? Let’s rephrase that: is it possible to do away with the clutter and overabundance and still have a fun holiday?

You bet! First, study after study has shown that happiness comes from experiences not from things. Second less stuff means less stress. Third, fewer gifts equals more money, and more money is the equivalent of greater peace of mind.

Of course minimalism does not mean no gifts. It just means less. It means fewer, more meaningful remembrances for loved ones. Think quality, not quantity.

Make and Give Homemade Gifts.

jacket-aspxFor instance, Country Living Christmas Joys: Decorating, Crafts & Recipes has chapters titled “Handmade gifts from the heart” and “Homemade Gifts from  the kitchen”. Gifts of food are great because they are an experience, both the making and the eating. And food is a gift that leaves nothing behind but good memories.

Enjoy Shared Experiences.

jacket-aspxShared experiences are another memory-maker that creates fun and costs little to nothing. Family holiday movie nights are a great way to celebrate all month long. Make special treats and check out a holiday DVD or blu-ray or stay in the warmth of your house and download a Christmas movie.

 

Give.

jacketAnd let’s not forget the gift of giving. The Giving Way to Happiness : Stories and Science Behind the Transformative Power of Giving by Jenny Santi discusses the wisdom of great thinkers past and present, as well as cutting-edge scientific research, and makes the case that the answers to the problems that haunt us, and the key to the happiness that eludes us, lie in helping those around us.

It’s simple. Cook. Eat. Share. Laugh. Give. Enjoy.