Emma Hart Willard born, 1787. W.E.B. DuBois born, 1868.
Feb. 24, Tuesday - Shrove Tuesday. Fairy tale author Wilhelm Grimm born, 1784.Feb. 25, Wednesday - Ash Wednesday. Nutritionist Adele Davis born, 1905.
Feb. 26, Thursday - New Moon. Eclipse of the Sun (observed in Caribbean). Grand Canyon National Park established, 1919.
Feb. 27, Friday - John Steinbeck born, 1902. Moon at perigee.
Feb. 28, Saturday - B&O Railroad incorporated, 1827. Moon on equator.
March 1, Sunday - First Sunday in Lent. Glenn Miller born, 1904. Youth Arts Month.
Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: How many people can claim to have Feb. 29 as their birthday?
- M.T., Trout Lake, Wash.
Answer: Well, it's far fewer than can claim any other date, that's for sure. That's the easy way of saying that we lost count . . . or just plain don't know - sorry! Some pundits call this the birthday of eternal youth, since it comes around only once in four years. The last one was in 1996, the next not until the year 2000. Only the century years that are evenly divisible by 400 can claim to be leap years, however. Anyone with a Feb. 29 birthday that fell on the years 1700, 1800 or 1900 waited 8 years from their '96 birthday to their next one in the new century.
We can tell you that singer and actress Dinah Shore has a birthday just once in four years, as does actor James Mitchell, actress Michelle Morgan, and singer Gretchen Christopher. Pope Paul III and Jimmy Dorsey also call it theirs. Pisces is the ruling sign, and water the element.
Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Glenn Miller, like too many unfortunate musicians, died in an air crash, I believe. Was his a military flight, or domestic?
- G.T., Raleigh, N.C.
Answer: Maj. Glenn Miller (1904-1944), dance band leader, arranger and trombonist, was head of the U.S. Army Air Force band when their Norseman D-64 went down over the English Channel on Dec. 15, 1944. Miller and the band were scheduled to appear in Paris for an Army Air Force band show. The circumstances of their plane's disappearance remain uncertain and various accounts have been surmised over the years.
In 1985, an explanation was advanced by crew members from the Royal Air Force who said they had spotted Miller's plane in trouble after the RAF had aborted a bombing mission and were forced to jettison the bombs from their own aircraft. It was suggested that those jettisoned bombs might have inadvertently hit the Norseman D-64, but none of this was ever confirmed.
Miller shared his March 1 birthday with other musicians, notably blues and jazz singer Alberta Hunter, and singer and film actor Harry Belafonte. In the recent book, "The Secret Language of Birthdays," edited by Gary Goldschneider and Joost Elffers (Penguin Studio, 1994), March 1 is considered "the day of artistic sensibilities."
Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: On what grounds was President Andrew Johnson impeached?
- K.P., Omaha, Neb.
Answer: As you might suspect, it was a complex series of events that precipitated the impeachment vote in 1868. However, he was not actually removed from office, despite the House of Representatives vote to impeach of 126 to 47. In the Senate trial that followed that vote, Johnson managed to hold onto his term of office by just one vote, although a majority of Senators (35 out of 54 counted) also voted against him. Johnson had come into term as Lincoln's running mate, put on the ticket by Republicans to broaden the voter appeal. Johnson was a Democrat and had distinguished himself as the only Southern senator to remain pro-Union during the war. Still, to the Republicans, he was the "stranger in their midst" when he took over as president after Lincoln's assassination.
Civil War politics were at the base of it all, of course, when in the two years following the end of the war, the Republican-controlled Congress began to undo policy after policy that had been put into place by Johnson. In one of these undoings, Congress had passed the Tenure of Office Act, which required the president to obtain Senate approval before he could dismiss any official originally appointed by the Senate. Johnson first tried to veto the Tenure Act, but he was overruled. Then he dismissed Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, at least in part to see how the constitutionality of the act would hold up. It held - Johnson was voted to be impeached for Stanton's dismissal by a vote on Feb. 24, 1868. Nevertheless, he held on for the remainder of his term, until March 4, 1869, just by the skin of his teeth.
The 1998 Gardener's Companion is available now at newsstands and garden centers. Filled with such varied and useful information as: four easy garden designs; tips for buying, planting and rejuvenating lilacs; and growing America's favorite vegetables - it's the perfect "companion" for any gardener.
This Week with The Old Farmer's Almanac
Feb. 23-Mar.1, 1998
Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25.
The 1804 (Old) Farmer's Almanac reminded us, "This month is short; then work brisk to get done your stint. Waste nothing in house or barn. . . `A diligent hand maketh rich.' Remember that moments make days and days make years. . . ." Mardi Gras, French for "fat Tuesday," is celebrated this week to mark the increasing light of Febuary and March, so we know those days that make years are getting longer, anyway. February 24 is also Shrove Tuesday, a day to confess and obtain absolution for the coming year. Also called Fastnacht, it's the "eve of fast" in Germany, the last day before Lent begins on Asy Wednesday.
To-morrow and to-morrow cheat our youth. . .
Tip of the Week
Use a tall wastebasket to store long tubes of wrapping paper.
Quick Beet Risotto
3 cups chicken broth
3 medium beets, cooked, then peeled and diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup red wine or water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
Brint broth to a boil, add beets, and set aside. Melt butter in a large skillet and saute the onion until soft. Add rice and cook another 5 minutes. Add wine or water, and vinegar, and stir until absorbed. Slowly add broth and beets to rice mixture, stirring until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about another 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. This is great with roasted meats.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
The Old Farmer's Weather Proverbs
If there is enough blue sky to make a bab's coat, the weather will clear.
Three fogs in a row, then a rain.
On the first of March, the crows begin to search.
Got a Question?
Every day the editors of The Old Farmer's Almanac answer a question on the Internet. All questions are archived there as well. On the World Wide Web, the address is www.almanac.com.