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Getting Back on Track After a Fire at Work

On Tuesday, May 22, as I was leaving my 40 hour work week job, the fire alarm sounded.  Since I was leaving for the day, I came home.

The next day, I was not to report to work because the library ( I work in Hale Library at Kansas State University) was closed due to a fire.  Needless to say, the library is still closed.

At an all library staff meeting, it was reported that at least 140,000 gallons of water was pumped into the building to put out the fire. And the first through fourth floors are pretty much a total loss.

The fire started on the slanted roof and my workspace in under the flat roof on the left of the photo.  This is the back side of the building.

The flat roof portion is the 5th floor of the library.  This is the only floor that was not touched by fire or water.  There is smoke damage, but we got off very lucky as 5th floor houses the library administration offices, University Archives/Special Collections/& Rare Books, and a large meeting room we call the Hemisphere Room because of its shape.  We have two inner stacks that were not touched by fire or water.  One of the stack levels is just across the hall from where the water was pumped into the building.

On Wednesday, May 30,  staff was allowed a brief period of time to go into their spaces to collect personal items.  We donned face masks, hard hats, and gloves.  Since there is no electricity in the building everyone had to walk up the steep stairs.  I was so glad that I had been walking these stairs several times each day before the fire.  And I was grateful they had us put on face masks because at the 4th floor, the smell of soot, etc. was horrible.  Once I got to my space, it was smokey and I was happy that I had a powerful flashlight with me as my workspace has no windows so it was very dark in there.

It will be months before staff will be able to get back into the building to work, so, for now, we all have been spread out in various buildings across campus.

The photos below were taken by the Manhattan, Kansas Fire Department on the roof of Hale Library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a photo inside the library of what we call the Great Room and students calls the Harry Potter Room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next week, the Wednesday Author Interview Series will be back.

 

 

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Happy Arbor Day!

Today is Arbor Day!

Recently, I received an Arbor Day envelope in the mail asking for support and I am happy to send in a donation.

In this particular mailing was a flyer titled “A History of the Holiday.”  I want to share with you what the flyer said.

“On January 4, 1872, J. Sterling Morton first proposed a tree planting holiday – Arbor Day – at a meeting of Nebraska’s State Board of Agriculture.  the date was set for April 10, 1872, and it was estimated that more than one million trees were planted throughout the state on that first Arbor Day.

“In the years following, other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day, and the tradition began in schools nationwide in 1882.  Today Arbor Day is celebrated in all 50 states and more than 40 countries around the globe.”

“Arbor Day is not like other holidays.  Each of those repose upon the past.  Arbor Day proposes for the future.” – J. Sterling Morton

 

I remember celebrating Arbor Day at school.  We always brought home pine trees to plant.

Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains, I saw many pine trees on the hills.  So, I can imagine my Dad’s face when all of us kids brought home, pine trees to plant.

Our house was on a hill and our front yard went straight down the hill, then a small jump down to the ditch before the road.  My Dad helped us kids plant pine trees at the bottom of the yard.  By the year 2000, those pine trees had grown so tall that you could no longer see the road, the flat bottom land, or the hill beyond.  They grew straight and tall.  The trees are still there today!

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Friday the 13th: Are you superstitious?

Today is Friday the 13th.  Are you superstitious?

In 1233 Pope Gregory IX announced that black cats were placed on earth to do the Devil’s work.  Prior to Pope Gregory, cats were pretty much worshipped as gods.  Guess the pagan idea didn’t sit too well with the Catholic Church.

Since then, the black feline has pretty much been seen as “bad luck.”

Did you know that black cats, even black dogs, are usually the last ones to be adopted at animal shelters?  One animal shelter worker told me black cats, and dogs, usually spend seven to ten days longer in the shelter than any other color.

The cat in the above photo is Morgan.  He is a very sweet lovable black cat with oh so very soft fur.

Here is a photo of Bates, when he was a tiny kitten.  Again, he is a very sweet boy with soft fur.  He loves to lounge in my lap and if I am laying on the sofa or bed he wants to lay on my chest.  I think he likes the rhythm of my heartbeat.

Some folks are superstitious of black cats crossing their path.  I have been told by a friend that when they are out walking and see a black cat cross in front of them, they turn and go in another direction because they believe allowing a black cat to cross in front of them will bring them bad luck.

My black cats bring me joy.

Here is my warning about black cats:    If you walk around the house at night without the lights on, you can’t see them.  I have lost count over the years how many times I have been tripped by Morgan and Bates or accidentally stepped on their paws or tails in the dark.  But, I still love them and they love me.

So, next time you want to adopt a cat, think about adopting a “Black Cat.”

Black cats aren’t the only thing people are superstitious about.

Some folks will not walk under a ladder.  Others are afraid they will jinx themselves and knock on wood.  Others carry a lucky rabbit’s foot or a lucky four leaf clover.

Here are some superstitions:

A ship should not set sail on Friday the 13th because it will sink.

Do not get a new bed on Friday the 13th for it will cause you to have bad dreams.

If a black cat turns it back on you, you will have bad luck.

Do not plant a Weeping Willow for it will bring sadness and sorrow.

Never sleep directly under a full moon as it can bring illness and death.

Never marry in May.  It is not a good month to start a marriage.

If you kill a Robin redbreast, you will have bad luck for the rest of the year.

 

Do you have other superstitions you would like to share?  If so, leave them in the comment section.

 

 

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Keep Easter Lilies Away from Cats

K-STATE VETERINARIAN SAYS KEEP EASTER LILIES AWAY FROM CATS, AND THAT OTHER PLANTS AND FLOWERS CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO BOTH CATS AND DOGS

MANHATTAN — If the Easter Bunny happens to leave an Easter lily in your basket this year, make sure to keep it away from your cat, according to a Kansas State University veterinarian.

K-State’s Dr. Kenneth Harkin, an associate professor of small animal internal medicine, said there is an unknown water-soluble compound in the Easter lily, as well as in the tiger lily and the Asiatic hybrid lily, that makes it harmful for cats.

“We know the lily is dangerous and cat owners should never have lilies in the house,” he said. “Never give someone a gift of a lily if you know they have cats.”

According to Harkin, consumption of the Easter lily has no effect on dogs, rabbits or small rodents. However, he said there are other types of plants and flowers that are hazardous to these household pets. Some examples include the lily of the valley, oleander, kalanchoe, azalea, rhododendron, and tulips.

If a household pet ever consumes a toxic plant, Harkin advises owners to identify the type of plant and get their pet to the veterinarian immediately. He said that consumption of a toxic plant without immediate treatment could ultimately lead to the pet’s death.

“If your cat or dog has a habit of eating plants, check out the toxicity of the plant before bringing it into the house or planting it in the garden,” Harkin said.

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Tips on Finding Morel Mushrooms

Sources: Ari Jumpponen 785-532-6751, ari@k-state.edu
Pronouncer: Ari is Are-ee and Jumpponen is Jum-pone-en

K-STATE MUSHROOM EXPERT AND MUSHROOM HUNTER SHARE TIPS ON FINDING THE MYSTERIOUS MOREL

MANHATTAN, KANSAS — The great outdoors, pleasant weather, the thrill of the hunt and the delectable taste are just some of the many reasons hunters take to the woodlands in the spring in search of the mysterious morel mushroom.

“Hunting morels is a great excuse to get outdoors during a nice time of year — and they are pretty tasty, too,” said David Rintoul, an avid morel hunter and interim director of Kansas State University’s Division of Biology.

Morels are the fruiting body from mycelia found in the soil and are typically produced during the warm, rainy season of early spring, according to Ari Jumpponen, K-State associate professor of mycology in the Division of Biology. The morel is difficult to produce commercially because the exact environmental conditions have yet to be fully understood. Thus those who love the taste must search for the morels themselves, Jumpponen said.

“There are a lot of people that think they know what makes a good season for the morels, but we have not yet been able to pinpoint the exact environmental conditions, so no one really knows,” Jumpponen said. “In general terms, if it’s been warm and if you’ve had enough moisture, there is going to be something coming up.”

Some hunters will swear by searching around the base of large trees or after a flood or fire, Jumpponen said. However, a symbiotic relationship between the morel and plant roots is uncertain, as the morels are rarely found in the root, though it can be forced in a lab setting. It is possible that the relationship with the tree roots is nothing but a lab artifact; however, a disturbance of the land by flood or fire is likely to be true, he said

Rintoul has enjoyed hunting for morels since he was first introduced to it by a colleague many years ago. He has gotten his daughters involved as a way to get them outdoors and active. Rintoul also has his own theory for finding the best morels. Although the exact local of his prime hunting ground is top secret, he recommends that hunters search for them in areas with loose sandy soil forested with large trees, usually cottonwood, when the soil and temperature are just right.

“I’ve already been out searching many times recently and had pretty good luck, Rintoul said. “Ideally, what you need is a good rain and a warm night. There is a critical window between where there are not any mushrooms out yet and where the ground cover becomes too tall to be able to see them.”

The morel mushroom has a unique head that is convoluted like the surface of a brain; this allows experienced hunters to easily identify it, according to Jumpponen. The false morel, some of which are poisonous, somewhat resembles the morel. To be on the safe side, Jumpponen recommends that the inexperienced hunter take someone with them who can accurately identify authentic morels.

Both Jumpponen and Rintoul have some additional tips for beginning hunters:

* When hunting for morels make sure you bring a basket, paper or mesh bag to carry your harvested morels. Morels are delicate and moist, so if they are crushed or left in plastic they can easily spoil.

* Using a knife, cut the morel off at the base instead of picking it out of the ground; some people believe that if you pull the mycelia out of the soil there will be fewer morels the next year. In addition, cutting the morel keeps the dirt out of your harvest basket.

* Always clean and cook wild mushrooms prior to eating them. If unable to eat all that you have collected, dehydrate the mushrooms in a food dehydrator and store them in a cool dry place.

Once you have collected your mushrooms, here are a couple of recipes to try:

Chicken Breasts Baked on Wild Mushrooms

Rich, creamy port and mushroom sauce makes these chicken breasts special. A little more work than a weekday meal, but worth it. Great served with plain rice or simply flavored risotto — lemon or Parmesan would be nice to soak up the flavors. Adapted from the “Silver Palate Cookbook.”

* 3/4 cup chicken broth

* 1 ounce dried wild mushrooms — such as cepes, morels, etc., all one kind or a mix — thoroughly rinsed under running water, and drained

* 1/2 lb fresh cultivated mushrooms, such as button, wiped clean with damp paper towel

* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter

* 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots — or three green onions, finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of minced garlic

* Salt and pepper, to taste

* 1/3 cup medium port wine

* 1/3 cup heavy cream

* 6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1. In a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil; pour over the wild mushrooms in a small bowl and let stand for about 2 hours.

2. Thinly slice cleaned mushroom caps, discarding stems.

3. In a skillet over medium to medium-to-low heat, melt butter and gently saute shallots or onion/garlic mixture for about 5 minutes — do not brown.

4. Drain liquid from wild mushrooms and reserve.

5. Finely chop the wild mushrooms and add them and the fresh mushrooms to the skillet with the shallots (or onion/garlic mixture) and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 7-10 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

7. Add the reserved mushroom liquid, port and cream to the skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.

8. Pour mushroom mixture into a shallow baking dish and arrange chicken breast halves in a single layer on top of the mushrooms.

9. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.

10. Bake in the middle level of the oven for about 25-30 minutes, until chicken is done. Serves six.

Mushroom Tomato Lasagna

* 10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

* 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

* 7 garlic cloves, minced

* Salt and freshly ground pepper

* 1/2 cup pure olive oil, plus more for the noodles

* 1 and 1/4 pounds wild mushrooms, thinly sliced

* 3 medium leeks, white and tender green parts, coarsely chopped

* 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

* 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

* 1-quart milk, at room temperature

* Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

* 1 pound dry lasagna noodles

* 1/2 pound mild goat cheese, at room temperature

* 2/3 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta (6 ounces)

* 2 tablespoons chopped basil

* 1 large egg, beaten

* 1 and 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with the parsley and 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomatoes skin side down on the sheet and bake for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, or until wrinkled and slightly dry. Let the tomatoes cool, then coarsely chop them.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add one-third of the mushrooms and cook over moderately high heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in one-third of the remaining minced garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer the cooked mushrooms to a plate. Repeat twice with the remaining mushrooms and garlic, adding 2 tablespoons of oil for each batch.

3. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the leeks and cook over moderately low heat until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Add the leeks to the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

4. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderately high heat for 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer over moderately low heat, whisking frequently. Continue to cook the sauce until thickened and no floury taste remains about 5 minutes. Remove the white sauce from the heat and season with salt, pepper, and the nutmeg.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles, then toss them with a little olive oil.

6. In a bowl, combine the goat cheese with the ricotta and basil. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the egg.

7. Spread half of the white sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and top with a layer of lasagna noodles. Sprinkle the noodles with half of the mushrooms and dollop half of the goat cheese mixture on top. Cover with another layer of noodles and spread with half of the remaining white sauce. Spread the tomato and leek mixture over the sauce, cover with a third layer of lasagna noodles and dollop the remaining goat cheese mixture on top. Cover with a final layer of lasagna noodles. Spread the remaining white sauce over the noodles and top with the remaining mushrooms.

8. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the lasagna and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown on top and bubbling. Let the lasagna stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

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Top Ten Things Not to Do If You Are Called for Jury Duty

I got out of jury duty because I knew the defending attorney.

Fiction Favorites

Top Ten Things Not to Do

The inspiration for this list was reading about Dan Antion’s experience with being called for jury duty. I asked Dan if he wouldn’t mind sharing what it was like. He graciously sent the rules of jury duty for my review. I have to tell you, Dan is the kind of guy who would never do any of these.

10 If you are called for jury duty, do not ignore the summons. If you do, at best the sheriff will greet you before you go to work. At worst, your co-workers will be entertained by the process known as the “perp walk.” (Who takes official papers seriously, Dubhgan? looks like the courts do.)

9 If you are called for jury duty, do not forget to wear your “jurist badge.” If you do, at best someone may confuse you with a lawyer. At worst, Tiny the WWF champ and newest member of…

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Housing Your Pet During the Holidays

Source: Dr. Susan Nelson, 785-532-5690, snelson@vet.k-state.edu

K-STATE VETERINARIAN SAYS WHEN FINDING ALTERNATIVE HOUSING FOR YOUR PET DURING THE HOLIDAYS, THERE ARE SEVERAL WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR PET’S STRESS

The holiday season can be a stressful time of year – even for your pet.

When you leave home for the holidays, it’s important to choose the best housing option to ensure your pet’s well-being, a Kansas State University veterinarian said.

“It can be very stressful for some pets to be away from their owners,” said Dr. Susan Nelson, assistant professor of clinical sciences at K-State. “This stress also may be intensified if the time away is spent in unfamiliar surroundings, so try to prepare in advance in order to make your pet’s holiday time as stress-free as possible.”

Nelson said the primary options for pet care are a kennel or a pet sitter. Kennels are a good option for sociable animals that don’t stress about leaving the house, and pet sitters are a good option for animals that are more at ease at home, especially cats. She said it’s important to consider your pet’s behavior before hiring a sitter.

“It’s best to know whether your pet will be OK staying at home by itself and if it would let a stranger into the home while it’s alone,” Nelson said.

Some territorial and aggressive dogs don’t respond well to a stranger in the home and won’t allow someone unfamiliar to enter. Additionally, Nelson said dogs with extreme separation anxiety are best not left at home alone but instead taken to a kennel if there are no other options.

“These are the dogs that when left alone bark all day or have accidents in the house,” she said. “They may exhibit destructive behavior and even injure themselves. Some pet sitters will watch your pet in their home so this may be a more suitable option for certain pets.”

To help pets adjust to temporary holiday housing, owners should help prepare their pet beforehand. If hiring a pet sitter, owners should schedule a greeting time when the sitter can meet and play with the pet.

“When the sitter comes to meet your pet, don’t be in the house so that you’ll find out how your pet will react to a

stranger without you there,” Nelson said.

If your pet isn’t used to you being gone, you should leave the pet alone at home for short periods of time to prepare for a longer absence. Nelson said owners shouldn’t emphasize leaving and greeting their pet when they return because this can reinforce its anxiety.

For pets going to the kennel, Nelson said owners can help their pet adjust to living in a smaller space by purchasing a crate for the home.

“You can get your pet used to the crate by having it stay in the crate a couple minutes at a time at the beginning and then slowly increasing that time,” she said. “It’s also helpful to feed pets when they’re in the crate so they get used to confinement during a low-stress time.”

To help ease your pet’s anxiety at the kennel, you can arrange play dates so your pet becomes used to being around other animals, Nelson said. Owners also can bring the animal’s favorite toy or something that smells like home, such as a T-shirt, to the kennel.

When choosing a pet sitter, Nelson suggests finding a family member, a friend or a professional. If hiring a professional pet sitter, pet owners should ask about the sitter’s training and experience, check for proof of insurance and ask for references. She also suggests that owners have professional sitters provide a written contract of their fees and services and ask what extra services they offer, like playing with the pet. If your pet has special needs or takes medication, make sure your pet sitter will be comfortable performing those tasks.

For kennels, Nelson said it’s important to reserve a spot early in the holiday season. When choosing a kennel, owners can visit the facility and see how it looks and smells. They also can see what kind of safety and security the kennel has, such as video surveillance, fire alarms, and sprinkler systems. She said owners should ask how often the animals will be let out of their cages and if extra services are offered, like more playtime. Nelson said it’s required by most kennels that your pet be updated on its vaccines and that you provide proof. Make sure you find out ahead of time which vaccines are required.

Whether you’re leaving your pet in the care of a sitter or a kennel, Nelson said owners should provide detailed instructions for the pet’s food and medications. They also should give the name of their pet’s veterinarian and what to do if the pet becomes ill. Nelson recommends owners write and sign a document that allows the caretaker to bring their pet in for care. She also said the owner should talk about how finances will be handled because most veterinarians will require payment at the time of service.

“With any animal, especially if it’s old or sick, the owner ought to talk about what to do in a worst-case scenario, such as if something catastrophic happens to the pet or if it dies,” she said. “Owners need to discuss these things we typically don’t like to think about but for which we should prepare.”

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Pets and the Holidays

Source: Dr. Susan Nelson, 785-532-5690, snelson@vet.k-state.edu

K-STATE VETERINARIAN SAYS HOSTS SHOULD CONSIDER HOW THEIR PET AND GUESTS WILL INTERACT AT GATHERINGS

Though you love your pet, keep in mind that your guests might not appreciate having your four-legged friend at holiday celebrations.

Dr. Susan Nelson, a veterinarian and assistant professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University, said when having guests over for the holidays, you have to consider how your company will respond to your pets and how your pet will respond to strangers in the home.

“Not everyone likes animals, and some people are very fearful,” Nelson said. “You need to be considerate of those who may be afraid of or allergic to your pet.”

For your pet, particularly a shy animal, Nelson said it can be difficult for it to accept a crowd of people, especially with little time to prepare. Many pets would take weeks, months or even years to work through their timidity. While cats will typically hide if many people are visiting, Nelson said some dogs can get agitated with new people around.

“The considerate thing to do for your pet would be to put it in a room while you have people over,” she said.

This also is good for your pet’s safety, because a lot of traffic opens the chance that your pet could escape out the door. When putting your pet in a separate room, Nelson said you can give it a favorite toy or a blanket for comfort. You also can turn on the television or radio to muffle the noise from the party. For extreme phobias, you can talk to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications for your pet.

She said if a pet is used to a crate, it’s best to keep it there rather than letting it run around a room. Crates often give dogs a feeling of safety, she said. It’s also helpful to get the animal used to being in the room by itself before the party.

If there is no conflict with your guests, a friendly animal can stay around your visitors. But Nelson suggests at least putting your pet away when everyone begins eating, especially if it begs at the table.

Pet owners also should realize that pets often can get to food that is left out on coffee tables for guests.

“If your animal has food allergies, ask people not to feed it snacks,” Nelson said. “Too many tidbits also can lead to gastrointestinal upset and pancreatitis. Again, the best way to avoid that is to keep your party animal away from the action.”

 

Kansas State University Veterinary Clinic

American Veterinary Medical Association

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A Nose for Justice

A Nose for Justice
By: Rita Mae Brown
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: October 4, 2001

 

Brief Review:

A Nose for Justice is filled with the history of Nevada water rights.  Jeep Reed owns a 10,000-acre ranch near Reno, Nevada and she was smart enough to make sure she owned the water rights that came with the land.  Jeep also rented water rights from her neighbors which kept SSRM and Wade Properties from developing the land.

Mags Rogers, Jeep’s great-niece, was hit hard during a hill slide on Wall Street.  She moved back to Nevada to live with Jeep and to help out on the ranch.

Jeep’s dog, King, and Mag’s dog, Baxter, play important roles in this story of murder, mystery, and mayhem.

Follow Jeep, Mags, King, and Baxter as they dig to uncover the mystery of the buried skeleton in the barn.  And help Deputy Pete Meadows and Officer Lonnie Parrish uncover who is behind the bombing of two SSRM water pumps and the murders Sam Peruzzi, Oliver Hitchens and Egon Utrecht.

 

About the Author: (from author’s Amazon page)

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sister Jane novels-Outfoxed, Hotspur, Full Cry, The Hunt Ball, The Hounds and the Fury, The Tell-Tale Horse, and Hounded to Death-as well as the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries and Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, and The Sand Castle, among many others. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

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“Thanksgiving is Murder on Turkeys Day” (Canada)

“Thanksgiving is Murder on Turkeys Day” (Canada) is printed on the calendar that is hanging on my wall.

The second Monday in October is Canada’s Thanksgiving Day.  It is believed the first Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated by the arctic explorer Martin Frobisher in 1578. That is more than 40 years before the Pilgrims arrived in the United States.

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

Today is also “Columbus Day” here in the United States.

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