The Magnificent Monarch

I found an interesting article about Monarch butterfly facts on the Birds and Blooms website!

11 Fascinating Monarch Butterfly Facts

Emily Hannemann

Updated: Jan. 31, 2023

Learn facts about the monarch butterfly, including how to tell male and female monarchs apart and if monarchs are poisonous.

Monarch Butterfly Host Plant

There’s only one host plant for a monarch butterfly—milkweed! Choose native varieties for your area such as common milkweed, butterfly weed, swamp milkweed and showy milkweed. Create a monarch haven with our complete guide to growing milkweed.

Not All Orange Butterflies Are Monarchs

Soldier, queen and viceroy butterflies all are mostly orange and black and look similar to monarch butterflies. But they all have differences that set them apart. Monarchs have bright orange wings with multiple black veins. Their wings are edged in black with white speckles.

Male Monarch Butterflies

The easiest way to tell a male monarch butterfly from a female monarch is by looking for two dark spots on the hindwings—the female butterflies don’t have these spots.

A Female Monarch Butterfly Lays Hundreds of Eggs

A female monarch in the wild can lay up to 500 eggs on milkweed plants throughout her lifetime. Butterflies raised in captivity can lay even more.

Are Monarch Butterflies and Caterpillars Poisonous?

Caterpillars eat only milkweed, which contains a poisonous chemical that protects them from predators. The chemicals stay in their system to make even the adults taste bad. Bright orange wings let predators know that monarch butterflies are poisonous.

How Long Does a Monarch Butterfly Live?

These gorgeous butterflies are a welcome summer sight, but unfortunately, most of them don’t live long. The adult monarchs you see fluttering through your backyard when the weather’s warm typically live only about 4 or 5 weeks — just long enough to mate and produce the next group. It takes four generations of monarchs to complete their annual migration journey before ending up in your garden again. However, the fourth “super generation” that overwinters in Mexico can live for as long as eight months.

How Fast Do Monarch Butterflies Fly?

It’s all about speed for these butterflies. Monarch butterflies can flap their wings up to 12 times a second when flying at their fastest.

How Far Do Monarch Butterflies Migrate?

Here’s a fun monarch butterfly fact. These amber beauties could fly circles around other species. Monarch butterflies fly a long distance during fall migration, farther than any other tropical butterfly—up to 3,000 miles.

Monarchs Have a Great Sense of Direction

Monarch butterflies don’t need a GPS to locate their migration destination. Many of the gorgeous travelers find their way to the same exact location, perhaps even to one particular tree, where previous generations have wintered before. 

Monarch Butterfly Wings Need to Stay Warm

Monarch butterfly wings are fascinating and complex. In order for these delicate creatures to fly, their wing muscles must stay above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Where Do Monarch Butterflies Live?

You can find monarchs everywhere from cities to rural fields and mountain pastures. When breeding, they prefer open areas.

SOURCE: Birds&Blooms


Nutmeg is the common name for a dark-leaved evergreen tree, Myristica fragrans, that is cultivated for two spices derived from its fruit, “nutmeg” and “mace.”

The nutmeg is the oval-shaped seed, and mace is the bright red webbing that surrounds the seed.

The tree is native to the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, of Indonesia.

Nutmeg is known to have been a prized and costly spice in European medieval cuisine as a flavoring, medicinal, and preservative agent.

Saint Theodore the Studite (ca. 758 C.E. – ca. 826), was famous for allowing his monks to sprinkle nutmeg on their pease pudding when required to eat it.

In Elizabethan times, it was believed that nutmeg could ward off the plague, so nutmeg was very popular.

Around1600 it became important as an expensive commercial spice in the Western world and was the subject of Dutch plots to keep prices high and of English and French counterplots to obtain fertile seeds for transplantation.

Until the mid-19th century, the Spice Islands, was the only location of the production of the spices nutmeg and mace in the world.

As a result of the Dutch interregnum during the Napoleonic Wars, the British took temporary control of the Spice Islands from the Dutch and transplanted nutmeg trees, complete with soil, to Sri Lanka, Penang, Bencoolen, and Singapore. From these locations they were transplanted to their other colonial holdings elsewhere, notably Zanzibar and Grenada.

Today, Indonesia and Grenada dominate production and exports of both products, with world market shares of 75% and 20%, respectively. Other producers include India, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, and Caribbean islands.

The nutmeg tree is a small evergreen tree, usually 16–43 ft tall, but occasionally reaching 66 ft. The tree may bear fruit for more than 60 years.

The alternately arranged leaves are dark green, 2.0–5.9 inches long by 0.8–2.8 inches wide with petioles about 0.4 inches long.

The species is dioecious, i.e. maleorstaminate flowers and “female” or carpellate flowers are borne on different plants, although occasional individuals produce both kinds of flower. The flowers are bell-shaped, pale yellow and somewhat waxy and fleshy. Staminate flowers are arranged in groups of one to ten, each 0.2–0.3 inches long; carpellate flowers are in smaller groups, one to three, and somewhat longer, up to 0.4 inches long.

Trees produce smooth yellow ovoid or pear-shaped fruits, 2.4–3.5 inches long with a diameter of 1.4–2.0 inches. The fruit has a fleshy husk. When ripe the husk splits into two halves along a ridge running the length of the fruit.

Inside is a purple-brown shiny seed, 0.8–1.2 inches long by about 0.8 inches across, with a red or crimson covering (an aril).

Nutmeg has a distinctive pungent fragrance and a warm slightly sweet taste; it is used to flavor many kinds of baked goods, confections, puddings, potatoes, meats, sausages, sauces, vegetables, and such beverages as eggnog.

Mace’s flavor is similar to nutmeg but more delicate; it is used to flavor baked goods, meat, fish, vegetables and in preserving and pickling. The more delicate flavor of mace makes this spice much more expensive than nutmeg and also because its yield is about ten times less that of nutmeg.

Nutmeg is known to impact health in many ways because of its nutritive content of vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds related to the essential oils. These beneficial components include dietary fiber, manganese, thiamine, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, copper, and macelignan.

The health benefits of nutmeg include ability to relieve pain, reduce insomnia, detoxify the body, helps digestion, brightens skin, protect the teeth and gums, helps lower blood pressure, increases circulation, prevents leukemiand and protect cognitive functionality against degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Nutmeg butter is obtained from the nut by expression. It is semisolid, reddish-brown in color, and tastes and smells of nutmeg.

The essential oil obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg is used widely in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries.

Nutmeg contains myristicin, a natural compound that has mind-altering effects if ingested in large doses. The buzz can last one to two days and can be hallucinogenic, much like LSD.

Exactly how much nutmeg you can tolerate before becoming ill depends partly on your body mass. In one case, an eight-year-old child ate just 0.5 ounce of nutmeg and died from the effects, according to A.K. Demetriades, M.D., of University College London Hospital. From 1 to 3 tbsp. of nutmeg powder, or 1 to 3 whole nutmeg seeds, causes illness in most people.

Nutmeg is highly neurotoxic to dogs and causes seizures, tremors, and nervous system disorders which can be fatal.

Connecticut’s nickname is the “Nutmeg State because its early inhabitants had the reputation of being so ingenious and shrewd that they were able to make and sell wooden nutmegs. Sam Slick (Judge Halliburton) seems to be the originator of this story. Some claim that wooden nutmegs were actually sold, but they do not give either the time or the place.

Source: JustFunFacts


Did you ever wonder, like I have, how we came to separate and name the various generations? It started with the Boomers, the naming of the generations. Yes, the term Lost Generation came first, but the idea that demographic groupings of people born in a span of years should have a particular name really caught on with the post-WWII generation.

William Strauss and Neil Howe did not invent the idea of a generational schema, but they popularized it. In 1991, they published a book touting the idea that there were cyclical patterns in U.S. history based on generational differences. Their names for the generations, however, were different than those most commonly used today. Their names for the groups born in particular spans of years were:

1901–24: G.I.
1925–42: Silent
1943–60: Boomer
1961–81: 13er
1981– : Millennial

The generally accepted names today are as follows.

1883–1900: The Lost Generation
1901–28: The Greatest Generation (The G.I. Generation)
1929–45: The Silent Generation
1946–64: Baby Boomers
1965–80: Generation X (Gen X)
1981–96: Millennials (Generation Y)
1997–2012: Generation Z
2013– : Generation Alpha

But where do these names come from?

Lost Generation (1883–1900)

The name for the generation that fought in the First World War has a literary origin. The name is both literal and metaphorical. It is literal in sheer numbers of young men who died in the war but t is also metaphorical in that it represents a rootlessness and destruction of moral purpose as a result of the war. The term Lost Generation first appears in one of the epigraphs in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. In the book, Hemingway attributed the phrase to Gertrude Stein in conversation. Four decades later, Hemingway described that conversation: “It was when we had come back from Canada and were living in the rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs and Miss Stein and I were still good friends that Miss Stein made the remark about the lost generation. She had some ignition trouble with the old Model T Ford she then drove and the young man who worked in the garage and had served in the last year of the war had not been adept, or perhaps had not broken the priority of other vehicles, in repairing Miss Stein’s Ford. Anyway he had not been sérieux and had been corrected severely by the patron of the garage after Miss Stein’s protest. The patron had said to him, “You are all a génération perdue.”

“That’s what you are. That’s what you all are,” Miss Stein said. “All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.”

Greatest Generation / G.I. Generation (1901–27)

The earliest use of Greatest Generation is by Democratic Congressman Hatton Sumners of Dallas, Texas in 1940, before the United States was even in the war. Sumners used the term in a series of speeches, or the same stump speech, given multiple times that year. Sumners uses the term in an aspirational, rather than a descriptive sense, arguing that this generation must rise from the devastation of the Great Depression to fight fascism and right the world.

The other name for this particular generation is more prosaic: the G.I. Generation. It simply acknowledges the vast number of men of that cohort who served in uniform during the war.

Silent Generation (1928–45)

Bracketed by the war generation and the boomers and often overlooked, the Silent Generation would seem to be aptly named. The name first appears in the Detroit Free Press of 1 November 1951, but this is in an excerpt from a Time magazine piece of 5 November. The Time piece reads:

“Youth today is waiting for the hand of fate to fall on its shoulders, meanwhile working fairly hard and saying almost nothing. The most startling fact about the younger generation is its silence. With some rare exceptions, youth is nowhere near the rostrum. By comparison with the Flaming Youth of their fathers & mothers, today’s younger generation is a still, small flame. It does not issue manifestoes, make speeches or carry posters. It has been called the “Silent Generation.” But what does the silence mean? What, if anything, does it hide? Or are youth’s elders merely hard of hearing?”

Baby Boomers (1945–64)

Generic use of baby boom is much older than any of these generational names. It’s an Americanism dating to at least the 1870s to mark any uptick in births. The application of the term to the then-expected increase in births following the Second World War dates, as one might expect, to 1945. There had been a short increase in the birth rate following the U.S. entry into the war, but on 4 February 1945 the U.S. Department of Commerce reported this mini-boom was over and to expect a larger one in the year to come: “The Commerce Department reported Saturday night that the Nation’s birth rate, which rose 30 per cent above prewar levels in the year after Pearl Harbor, now is declining and will stay that way until the end of hostilities precipitates another baby boom.”

Generation X (1965–80)

Generation X first appears in December 1952 issue of Holiday magazine, touting an upcoming photo-essay by photographer Robert Capa, although the term would not appear in the photo-essay itself:

“What, you may well ask, is Generation X? […] Our tag for what we believe to be the most important group of people in the world today—the boys and girls who are just turning 21. These are the youngsters who have seen and felt the agonies of the past two decades, often firsthand, who are trying to keep their balance in the swirling pressures of today, and who will have the biggest say in the course of history for the next 50 years.”

Millennials / Generation Y (1981–96)

More successful was Strauss and Howe’s naming of the Millennial generation. From their 1991 book: “At Burrville Elementary, 13ers in older grades found the uniforms slightly humiliating, but the younger kids hardly seemed to mind. These kids in green coats and yellow blouses are the vanguard of America’s MILLENNIAL GENERATION. Cute. Cheerful. Scout-like. Wanted. Not since the 1910s, when midlife Missionaries dressed child G.I.s in Boy Scout brown, have adults seen such advantage in making kids look alike and work together. Not since the early 1900s have older generations moved so quickly to assert greater adult dominion over the world of childhood—and to implant civic virtue in a new crop of youngsters.”

Millennials have also gone by the rather unimaginative Generation Y, as they are the cohort that follows the Gen Xers. Call them Generation Y, because Y comes after X, and maybe because they’re coming of age with the big questions laid out before them.

— Y can’t we go out in the sun?

— Y can’t the AIDS epidemic be stopped?

— Y is the environment in the state it is?

— Y is Canada in the state it is?

— Y can’t I get decent work?

Generation Z (1997–2012)

Of course, Generation Y led to ‘Generation Z,” which appears by 2010, likely due to a lack of a more creative term. Some refer to this generation as “iGen” since they have never known a world without the Internet. Martha Irvine of the Associated Press states, “they are the tech-savviest generation of all time… even toddlers can maneuver their way through YouTube and some first-graders are able to put together a PowerPoint presentation for class.” A teacher’s most complicated struggle with Generation Z is not necessarily how to relate lessons to them, but rather how to prepare these students for careers and jobs that don’t even exist yet.

Generation Alpha (2013– )

Having run out of letters in the Latin alphabet, we turn to Greek for the name of the next cohort. From the Australian newspaper Northern Star of 12 March 2011: “They are smart, cashed-up, career driven and are making their way to a place near you.”

It’s the newest addition to society’s demographic categories—Generation Alpha. Babies born from 2010 are part of this demographic, coming after the digital-native Generation Z and the want-want-want Generation Y. You may note that the same critiques and notes of despair are sounded whenever a new generation comes of age. The “problem with kids these days” has always been and presumably always will be.

Harriet Tubman Day

Harriet Tubman was an escaped enslaved woman who became a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, leading enslaved people to freedom before the Civil War, all while carrying a bounty on her head. But she was also a nurse, a Union spy and a women’s suffrage supporter. Tubman is one of the most recognized icons in American history and her legacy has inspired countless people from every race and background. NOTE: Harriet Tubman Day is celebrated on the day that she died, because her exact birthday is unknown.

When Was Harriet Tubman Born?

Harriet Tubman was born around 1820 on a plantation in Dorchester County, Maryland. Her parents, Harriet (“Rit”) Green and Benjamin Ross, named her Araminta Ross and called her “Minty.”

Rit worked as a cook in the plantation’s “big house,” and Benjamin was a timber worker. Araminta later changed her first name to Harriet in honor of her mother.

Harriet had eight brothers and sisters, but the realities of slavery eventually forced many of them apart, despite Rit’s attempts to keep the family together. When Harriet was five years old, she was rented out as a nursemaid where she was whipped when the baby cried, leaving her with permanent emotional and physical scars.

Around age seven Harriet was rented out to a planter to set muskrat traps and was later rented out as a field hand. She later said she preferred physical plantation work to indoor domestic chores.

A Good Deed Gone Bad

Harriet’s desire for justice became apparent at age 12 when she spotted an overseer about to throw a heavy weight at a fugitive. Harriet stepped between the enslaved person and the overseer—the weight struck her head.

She later said about the incident, “The weight broke my skull … They carried me to the house all bleeding and fainting. I had no bed, no place to lie down on at all, and they laid me on the seat of the loom, and I stayed there all day and the next.”

Harriet’s good deed left her with headaches and narcolepsy the rest of her life, causing her to fall into a deep sleep at random. She also started having vivid dreams and hallucinations which she often claimed were religious visions (she was a staunch Christian). Her infirmity made her unattractive to potential slave buyers and renters.

Escape from Slavery

In 1840, Harriet’s father was set free and Harriet learned that Rit’s owner’s last will had set Rit and her children, including Harriet, free. But Rit’s new owner refused to recognize the will and kept Rit, Harriet and the rest of her children in bondage.

Around 1844, Harriet married John Tubman, a free Black man, and changed her last name from Ross to Tubman. The marriage was not good, and the knowledge that two of her brothers—Ben and Henry—were about to be sold provoked Harriet to plan an escape.

Harriet Tubman: Underground Railroad

On September 17, 1849, Harriet, Ben and Henry escaped their Maryland plantation. The brothers, however, changed their minds and went back. With the help of the Underground Railroad, Harriet persevered and traveled 90 miles north to Pennsylvania and freedom.

Tubman found work as a housekeeper in Philadelphia, but she wasn’t satisfied living free on her own—she wanted freedom for her loved ones and friends, too.

She soon returned to the south to lead her niece and her niece’s children to Philadelphia via the Underground Railroad. At one point, she tried to bring her husband John north, but he’d remarried and chose to stay in Maryland with his new wife.

Fugitive Slave Act

The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act allowed fugitive and freed workers in the north to be captured and enslaved. This made Harriet’s role as an Underground Railroad conductor much harder and forced her to lead enslaved people further north to Canada, traveling at night, usually in the spring or fall when the days were shorter.

She carried a gun for both her own protection and to “encourage” her charges who might be having second thoughts. She often drugged babies and young children to prevent slave catchers from hearing their cries.

Over the next 10 years, Harriet befriended other abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, Thomas Garrett and Martha Coffin Wright, and established her own Underground Railroad network. It’s widely reported she emancipated 300 enslaved people; however, those numbers may have been estimated and exaggerated by her biographer Sarah Bradford, since Harriet herself claimed the numbers were much lower.

Nevertheless, it’s believed Harriet personally led at least 70 enslaved people to freedom, including her elderly parents, and instructed dozens of others on how to escape on their own. She claimed, “I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.”

Harriet Tubman’s Civil War Service

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Harriet found new ways to fight slavery. She was recruited to assist fugitive enslaved people at Fort Monroe and worked as a nurse, cook and laundress. Harriet used her knowledge of herbal medicines to help treat sick soldiers and fugitive enslaved people.

In 1863, Harriet became head of an espionage and scout network for the Union Army. She provided crucial intelligence to Union commanders about Confederate Army supply routes and troops and helped liberate enslaved people to form Black Union regiments.

Though just over five feet tall, she was a force to be reckoned with, although it took over three decades for the government to recognize her military contributions and award her financially.

Harriet Tubman’s Later Years

After the Civil War, Harriet settled with family and friends on land she owned in Auburn, New York. She married former enslaved man and Civil War veteran Nelson Davis in 1869 (her husband John had died 1867) and they adopted a little girl named Gertie a few years later.

Harriet had an open-door policy for anyone in need. She supported her philanthropy efforts by selling her home-grown produce, raising pigs and accepting donations and loans from friends. She remained illiterate yet toured parts of the northeast speaking on behalf of the women’s suffrage movement and worked with noted suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony.

In 1896, Harriet purchased land adjacent to her home and opened the Harriet Tubman Home for Aged and Indigent Colored People. The head injury she suffered in her youth continued to plague her and she endured brain surgery to help relieve her symptoms. But her health continued to deteriorate and eventually forced her to move into her namesake rest home in 1911.

Pneumonia took Harriet Tubman’s life on March 10, 1913, but her legacy lives on. Schools and museums bear her name and her story has been revisited in books, movies and documentaries.

Harriet Tubman: $20 Bill

In 2016, the United States Treasury announced that Harriet’s image will replace that of former President and slaveowner Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (who served under President Trump) later announced the new bill would be delayed until at least 2026. In January 2021, President Biden’s administration announced it would speed up the design process to mint the bills honoring Tubman’s legacy.

Tubman even had a World War II Liberty ship named after her, the SS Harriet Tubman.

Play Ball!

The baseball plant (Euphorbia obesa) is a succulent perennial that is native to the Cape Province of South Africa. Since its discovery during the late 1800s, baseball plants have exploded in popularity as houseplants due to their unique appearance and low-maintenance needs. Though baseball plants are actually considered an endangered species in their native habitat due to unsustainable harvesting, they can easily be found in garden centers. Today, national and international legislation that prohibits harvesting baseball plants has been enacted in an effort to protect the remaining native populations of baseball plants.

These long-lived, slow-growing succulents are characterized by bulbous shape, V-shaped markings, and seam-like ridges that resemble stitching. Rather than branches or leaves, the plant consists of a single wide stem body from which the flowers sprout. Young baseball plants are round in shape but become more elongated and cylindrically shaped with maturity. Baseball plants are also called sea urchin plants since they loosely resemble that creature.

The plants are dioecious, with either male or female flowers that are yellow in color and rather insignificant in appearance. To produce seeds, the female flowers must be cross-pollinated by a male plant, and for this reason, the plant is rarely propagated by seed except in the nursery trade.

Baseball Plant Care

Baseball plants are relatively easy plants to care for as long as their light and water requirements are met. They thrive if grown in a standard coarse potting mix formulated for cactus and succulents and placed in a location that receives plenty of sunlight or at constant bright indirect light. They are slow-growing plants that can be allowed to fill their pots before repotting becomes necessary. Few houseplants require less care than baseball plants.

Baseball plants do not produce leaves or foliage but they do produce small, fragrant flowers in the summer months. The tough stem structures are largely impervious to pest and disease problems, but if over watered or allowed to soak in water, the roots may develop rot.


In their native habitat, baseball plants are accustomed to plenty of bright, direct sunlight. When grown indoors, baseball plants should receive at least four hours of direct sunlight a day if possible. Loss of color and pattern, as well as a loss of shape, are all indications that your baseball plant is not receiving enough light; etiolated (“leggy”) growth is another indication. Place your baseball plant in a south or east-facing window in your home to ensure it receives adequate sunlight.


Baseball plants require coarse, well-draining potting soil in order to thrive and should be planted in a potting mix intended for cacti and succulents. Cactus soil is available at most commercial nurseries and garden centers, but if you don’t have one readily available you can easily make your own by mixing 3 parts regular potting soil, 2 parts coarse sand, and 1 part perlite. 


Baseball plants, like most succulents and cacti, do not tolerate over watering. Water the plant only when the soil is thoroughly dry. Baseball plants require more water during the spring and summer months, and significantly less water during their dormant period in the fall and winter months.

Temperature and Humidity

Baseball plants appreciate warm temperatures. When grown inside, the average household temperature is more than sufficient. However, be careful to avoid placing your baseball plant in areas with cold drafts, as it can inhibit growth. If grown outdoors, they can tolerate occasional temperatures down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.


As with most succulents, baseball plants do not require regular fertilization, as they are accustomed to growing in nutrient-poor soil. However, fertilizing your baseball plant during the spring can help it to thrive during its peak growing season. Be sure to use a cactus/succulent fertilizer for the best results.

Propagating Baseball Plant

Like other species of Euphorbia, baseball plant is difficult to propagate from seeds, since male and female plants require cross-pollination in order to produce seeds. Further, the seeds are very slow-growing.

Euphorbias such as E. obesa, which have a single stem structure rather than individual branches, are normally propagated by first decapitating the plant at soil level. When small new growth structures emerge around the remaining root body, each new offset can be carefully cut away and replanted in coarse cactus/succulent planting mix. These are quite -growing plants that can take as much as eight years before they mature into flowering plants.

Potting and Repotting

Baseball plants do well in any coarse potting mix formulated for cactus and succulents. They do not require frequent repotting, and should only be repotted once the circumference of the plant is pushing against the edge of the pot. Protective gardening gloves should be worn at all times while repotting baseball plants as their sap can irritate the skin upon contact. 

Source: The Spruce

The Mystery of Bowman’s Hill Tower

Bucks County, PA boasts many scenic spots, but there’s only one place to get an above-the-trees, bird’s-eye view of the surrounding countryside and Delaware River.

Rising 125 feet in the air atop Bowman’s Hill and offering a 14-mile view on a clear day, Bowman’s Hill Tower is a favorite stop for locals and tourists alike.

The Tower is located near the corner of Rt. 32 (River Road) and Lurgan Road, a few miles south of New Hope, PA.

The History of Bowman’s Hill Tower

One of the biggest misconceptions about the Tower is that it existed during General George Washington’s day. In reality, it was just built of local field stone in 1929-31 to commemorate what may have been a lookout point for Washington’s troops to watch for enemy activity on the Delaware River. Today, historians consider using Bowman’s Hill for a lookout to be more oral tradition than documented fact, however.

Construction of the Tower took nearly two years to complete. More than 2,400 tons of materials were used, including 1,200 perches of native stone from the hill and nearby stone fences, cut stone from local quarries, 517 tons of sand and 225 tons of cement. Workers excavated 15-feet deep so that the 24–foot-squared base would rest on a bedrock foundation. With construction done entirely by the Washington Crossing Park Commission employees, the total cost of the Tower was $100,000, including labor and materials.

Soon after the tower’s construction, workers planted 28,300 seedlings in the area to reforest the hill like people thought it would have been in Washington’s time. Some of those seedlings have become today’s towering trees on Bowman’s Hill. Due to the Tower’s height, lightning strikes were an ongoing problem. To improve safety and eliminate damage to the Tower, the National Lightning Protection Company of St. Louis, MO installed a lightning protection system on the building. Then the tower was vandalized (for the copper). The broken copper cables that visitors see hanging down its sides were part of this system. With the installation of new cables that are not copper, the system still operates today.

In the early 1980s, the Bowman’s Hill Tower underwent extensive restoration. An elevator was installed that takes visitors three-quarters of the way to the top, although it still is necessary to climb the last 23 steps to reach the outside observation deck. Previously, visitors had to climb a spiral staircase all the way to the top of the Tower. Today, visitors can choose which way they would like to reach the top.

So, what’s the mystery?  The NAME!

There is no definitive source for the name Bowman, however there are several theories:

  1. The original name was Beau Mont which was paired with Belle Mont, a similar hill in New Jersey. There was a John Beaumont who owned the original land in 1783. His tract of land can be seen in the Upper Makefield township building.
  2. The hill was named for Thomas Bowman, an English merchant who conducted trade up and down the Delaware River in the 17th century.
  3. The hill was named for a John Bowman, a friend of Jonathan Pidcock, the first European settler in the area. Pidcock’s farm was located in the northeast end of the hill, from which Revolutionary War soldiers encamped on the farm, then owned by a Robert Thompson.
  4. Or perhaps Bowman refers to a Doctor John Bowman (possibly the same John Bowman as above), allegedly ship’s surgeon to Captain Kidd. Dr Bowman was thought to have retired to eastern Pennsylvania after his time at sea and is said to be buried somewhere on the hill. The legend goes on in claiming that pirate treasure may be buried on the hill.

Note: The only burial placard on the hill commemorates a John Pidcock, early settler of the area, and not Dr. Bowman.

For whatever reason this hill was named, it’s a lovely lookout spot—even if George Washington never used it, Captain Kidd’s doctor never heard of it and there isn’t any buried treasure there!


The Victorian era was one of science and innovation. Cameras, cars, electricity and evolution were heralded in under the reign of Queen Victoria. In the world of Chemistry, Dalton and Faraday were making discoveries in atomic theory and electricity. One of the most famous chemists of this era was William Henry Perkin.

In 1856, an 18-year-old William Perkin, Hofmann’s assistant at the Royal College of Chemistry, was tasked to create a chemical synthesis of quinine. Quinine is found in tonic water and used as an anti-malarial. Perkin made several attempts at the synthesis over the Easter vacation in his home laboratory, using coal tar as a source of aniline. Oxidizing the aniline with potassium dichromate gave a black sludge which didn’t contain aniline: it contained something far more exciting. Perkin noticed whilst cleaning out a flask with ethanol that a purple solution had formed – an observation which led to Perkin becoming one of the most celebrated chemists of the Victorian era.

William Henry Perkin

The purple substance – initially named aniline purple – was one of the world’s first synthetic dyes: mauveine. Mauveine’s significance as a dye is its elusive colour. Throughout history, purple clothes have been worn almost exclusively by the richest in society due to the expense of creating purple dyes. Phoenician dye, known as ‘Purple of the Ancients’, is a famous example made from predatory sea snails.

Perkin was encouraged by his family to test the purple substance for colouring clothes. A sample was sent to Messrs Pullar of Perth who gave their approval. Finding success, he quickly patented the method. He set up a factory with his brother, funded by his father. In doing so, he brought purple to the Victorian mass market.

Purple became the height of fashion in Paris and London in the late 1850s to early 1860s, and the frenzy over mauve became known as ‘mauveine measles’. Even Queen Victoria was not exempt from the excitement, appearing in 1862 at the International Exhibition wearing a silk dress colored by mauveine. Wife of Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie wore mauveine-dyed dresses to stat functions.

Piece of silk dyed by Sir William Henry Perkin in 1860

But within this story there lurks a curious mystery. Closer inspection of Perkin’s synthesis method reveals that he may have been hiding something. There are eight bottles of mauvine alleged to have been made by Perkin left in the whole world, spread across six museums in four cities: London, Manchester, Bradford and New York. Museum-stored mauveine was tested in the 1990s and is rich in two main components – the chromophores of mauveine known as mauveine A and mauveine B.

Dr. John Plater at the University of Aberdeen repeated Perkin’s synthesis as it was written in the original patent, and here’s where the curiosity begins. The synthesis produces not two chromophores of mauveine, but four: A, B, B2 and C.

John Plater obtained his BSc in Chemistry from Loughborough University in 1986 and his PhD in heterocyclic synthesis from Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in 1989. He was awarded his DSc from The University of Aberdeen in 2009 where he is currently Senior Lecturer.

Did Perkin miss something out when he patented his method? Or are the samples in these museums not genuine Perkin’s mauveine? To solve this mystery, Dr. Plater began investigating the synthesis of mauveine. Perkin’s starting material was aniline extracted from coal tar, and later made commercially from coal-tar, which would also have contained two impurities, ortho- and para-toluidine, which have a similar chemical structure to aniline.

A bottle of original William Henry Perkin (WHP) mauveine from the WHP factory in Greenford.

Dr. Plater’s attempts to make mauveine from different combinations of aniline and toluidines were always unsuccessful – he never managed to create a product with only the A and B chromophores. Every synthesis created four chromophores of mauveine. Removing the B2 and C chromophores was also impossible.

In the search for more information, Dr. Plater was given access to analyze three samples of Perkin’s mauveine. These samples were stored in museums: one in Manchester, Bradford, and the other in Sudbury, the London borough where Perkin built both his family home and his factory. One sample is accompanied with a letter, addressed to Prof Henry Armstrong Fellow of the Royal Society, from William Henry Perkin’s son, Frederick Mollwo Perkin. The ‘Mollwo’ letter, as it is now known, provides evidence that the museum-stored mauveine samples are from Perkin’s factory.

An example of a Victorian mauveine dyed silk dress, Science Museum London.

Dr Plater used liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to identify the chromophores present in these mauveine samples. In LC-MS, liquid chromatography is used to separate compounds by running them along a long column filled with reverse phase silica gel. The different chromophores reach the end of the column at different times. Mass spectrometry can then be used to identify the structure of each chromophore from its molecular mass and the way it fragments. This revealed that the Bradford and Sudbury mauveines, like the Manchester mauveine, are highly rich in mauveine A and B.

Museum-stored mauveines match each other in their compositions, and the Mollwo letter provides evidence that the samples originate from Perkin. However, the synthesis described by Perkin doesn’t produce mauveine with the correct composition. Dr. Plater deduces from this that Perkin actually used a different synthesis method from the one he said he used.

Perkin’s mauve was used to colour 6d postage stamps from 1867-1880.

A final clue in this mystery comes from six pence stamps. Victorian postage stamps printed using mauveine dyes are available to purchase online. Dr. Plater analyzed the mauveine in 15 six pence stamps using LC-MS. Each stamp had a slightly different composition, generally of all four chromophores. A fluctuating composition of mauveine provides further evidence that the method for synthesizing mauveine changed over time. Dr. Plater believes that his method is actually more similar than the method in Perkins patent to the method actually used by Perkin.

Purple became the height of fashion in Paris and London in the late 1850s to early 1860s, and the frenzy over mauve became known as ‘mauveine measles’.

One question remains: why would Perkin patent one method for making mauveine, but use another? An answer may be to do with the yield of product. Dr. Plater notes that mauveine is actually very difficult to make. The yields are low – about 1 per cent. The method proposed by Dr. Plater increases the yield to about five per cent. Perkin discovered this synthesis by accident, but clearly understood the chemistry well enough to understand the need for research and development.

But there may be another answer to this question. In a lecture in 1896, Perkin revealed his concerns about his competition: other manufacturers of mauveine were using copper chloride as an oxidizing agent in place of Perkin’s potassium dichromate. Dr. Plater has strong evidence now that Perkin never revealed his true method. Perkin may well have done this intentionally: as the demand for synthetic dyes grew, Perkin wanted to avoid his competition getting hold of his secrets.

Perkin was the first person to mass produce a synthetic dye, but this research uncovers a new aspect to Perkin’s achievements. Analysis of mauveine stored in museums, Victorian stamps, and Perkin’s original patent provides evidence that Perkin iterated and improved his method of making his dye, making him one of the first chemists to realize the value of research and development. Because Perkin never revealed his true method, we may never know how he did it – but with Dr. Plater’s research we are one step closer to the truth.


Pisces, the twelfth sign in the zodiac, belongs to those between the dates of February 19th and March 20th.

Pisces Zodiac Sign Traits

Smart, creative, and deeply intuitive, Pisces can be close to psychic. Pisces feel things deeply, and have incredibly strong gut reactions. A Pisces “knows” things from deep within, and can often judge whether a person or situation is good or bad. That doesn’t mean a Pisces ignores the logical part of their brain, though. Deeply intelligent, Pisces have a profound respect for the power of the human mind. Is it a surprise that Albert Einstein was a Pisces?

Pisces signs are sensitive, and get along well in small groups of people. Sometimes, a Pisces may feel like they have an internal and external self, and they may need to spend a lot of time solo to recalibrate those two halves of themselves. A Pisces is rarely lonely when they are by themselves, and have an active imagination. Creative, Pisces love spending time reading, exploring or creating art or music, and understanding their emotions through art.

Those with the Pisces sign may seem quiet but they are incredibly strong and have a very strong sense of right and wrong. Their moral compass, along with their gut, guides them well. When a Pisces speaks up, people listen. Pisces tend to take in everything around them, and they are great people to ask for advice on pretty much anything. While Pisces has strong convictions about the best way for them to live, they have a “live and let live” approach when it comes to others, and are accepting and nonjudgmental of all.

Pisces in Love

Pisces in love is passionate, intense, and singular. A relationship with a Pisces is a roller-coaster ride that will make you feel your feelings—even the bad ones—and help you emerge as a better, more honest person. Even if a relationship with a Pisces doesn’t last, the lessons you learn from a Pisces partner will.

Pisces Friendship Style

A Pisces can feel like a great friend—until you consider how much you actually know about them. While Pisces are natural therapists within the Zodiac, they can be cagey about who they are, never revealing their full selves until they trust you—and sometimes, they may never reveal who they truly are.

Pisces Career, Money & Success Traits

Pisces’s greatest career strength: Detachment. Pisces can care passionately about a project, but they also know that success and failure are temporary. Learning to let go, let things flow, and that nothing can be guaranteed can allow Pisces to change course mid-stream, try new avenues to success, and let go if a career doesn’t seem to be working.

Pisces’ Greatest Gifts

A Pisces has a great gut and great intuition, which can guide them well, and help them make creative or intellectual leaps other people might not be able to see or consider. Deeply imaginative, Pisces can happily spend hours daydreaming, and are often just as surprised as the rest of the world when the pieces come together in an amazing way. Pisces don’t necessarily work the same way as other people do, and they may be able to get things done incredibly quickly. But it’s not that they’re that much faster than other zodiac signs. It’s that the time they may have been caught staring into space are times that are deeply valuable to them, and necessary for any creative process. The more a Pisces understands how they work and respects that process, the better they are.

Pisces’ Greatest Challenges

Pisces signs can sometimes spend too much time in their heads, getting overly wrapped up in a problem and assuming there’s no solution. Pisces are always one of the first signs to lend an ear to others, but when it comes to asking for help—especially emotional help—Pisces can sometimes wall themselves off, assuming that nobody knows what they are feeling and not even giving anyone a chance to try. Learning how to open up can be a huge lesson for Pisces. Of course, the fact remains that no one can read a Pisces mind. Pisces sometimes feels frustrated that they are seen as “more complicated” than their peers, and that feeling can make them act or seem defensive. Pisces needs to learn to let down their guard, allow people to love them, and allow for mistakes to be made.

Pisces’ Secret Weapon

The realization that life is so much more than what we see. Pisces sign is in tune with the magic of everyday existence and can find beauty in all situations, even ones that may cause tears. Recognizing these moments of beauty and being able to share them with others is what makes Pisces a creative sign, and is also what makes Pisces a soulful sign.

Famous Pisces

Leprechaun Crafts

Maybe you go all out for St Patty’s Day, like the person above did with decorating the whole door or maybe you’d rather be a little more low key. Here are 3 very easy and cute ideas for St Patty’s day crafts. The first one requires a clean jar, some felt scraps, ribbon scraps, a hat (these can be purchased at any place that has St Patty’s decorations), a button and some orange colored candies. Easy Peasy!

Here’s a thrifty idea!  We all save small plastic containers (for leftovers and whatnot). Take a small tub bowl with lid and paint it green. Add construction paper for a hat band and buckle and add a construction paper shamrock.  Fill with rollos or chocolate gold coins!

And what’s St Patty’s Day without some gold! You can paint rocks to look like gold nuggets, or you can be more creative if you choose to be.

How about THIS for an easy decoration? Buy GREEN Mason jars! (Mason jars CAN be used for just about everything! lol)

So your St Patty’s decorations can be festive AND easy…but there’s always that one house…

What Shall We Bake Today?

Since this is March, I thought I’d bring a recipe for classic Irish Soda Bread.  I have not attempted this as of writing this open.  If I do before it posts, I’ll update it to let you know the results.


2 cups flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

2 large eggs, room temperature, divided use

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 375°. Whisk together first 5 ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In another bowl, whisk together 1 egg and buttermilk. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in raisins.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently 6-8 times. Shape into a 6-1/2-in. round loaf; place on a greased baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, make a shallow cross in top of loaf. Whisk remaining egg; brush over top.

Bake until golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Remove from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.