Lest we forget, the American Cemetery in Luxembourg

In honor of Veteran’s Day we take a look back at our visit to this historic site a few years ago….

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In honor of Veteran’s Day we take a look back at our visit to this historic site a few years ago.

The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

At Hamm, technically we returned to the United States when we visited the hallowed ground of the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, which is officially American soil.

Luxembourg presented the land to the US in perpetuity in appreciation for helping free the country from Nazi occupation.

The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

In 1939, Luxembourg declared itself neutral as war broke out. Germany had other ideas, invading on May 10, 1940, then occupying the country and sending the duke and government into exile.

Two years later, the Third Reich formally annexed the duchy and declared Luxembourgers to be German citizens. At that point they began drafting thousands of men to fight in the war.

A headstone of an unknown soldier in at Luxembourg American Cemetery

Strict rules — including a ban on speaking French — were imposed. A resistance movement formed, but opposition to German rule was severely punished.

Passive resistance was most common, with refusing to speak German at the top of the list. Many Luxembourgers returned to the old Luxembourgish, and, in the process, most likely saved the language from disappearing.

U.S. forces liberated Luxembourg in September 1944, but were almost immediately engaged in the Battle of the Bulge and parts of the country fell back into German hands.

The allies ultimately prevailed, which was instrumental in ending World War II, and many of the soldiers who lost their lives in that combat are buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery.

Headstone of General George Patton at Luxembourg American Cemetery

We somberly walked the grounds where over five thousand soldiers are interred.

One of them is General George S. Patton, who survived the battle only to perish in an automobile accident a few months later.

He was originally buried alongside his troops, but in an effort to keep the surrounding graves from being trampled, he was moved to the forefront of the site.

Scott DeJardins, superintendent of Luxembourg American Cemetery

As we were leaving, we met the cemetery superintendent, Scott DeJardins, who lives at the site.

He explained to us that because of the unique position of this — and the many other United States Military Cemeteries around the world — as American territory, there is always an American caretaker.

Headstone of a Jewish solidier at Luxembourg American Cemetery

Mr. DeJardin is happily serving his fifth assignment in the last nine years, and is headed to Normandy next.

It’s a job he clearly loves, in fact he said “I’d tell my boss I’d do it for free, but I’m afraid he might take me seriously.”

A welcome bit of levity in our very solemn visit.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Life Long Learning has a New Home

For those of us who have reached a certain age travel is one of our rewards for making it through the obstacle course of career and raising a family. But after a few take it easy escapes many of us find ourselves wanting more out of our expeditions. We want to satisfy curiosity, experience new cultures, investigate history first hand, in other words, we want to continue to learn… CONTINUE READING >> 

Thanks to Road Scholar for providing this lifelong learning adventure through the Greek Isles! As always, all opinions are our own.

For those of us who have reached a certain age travel is one of our rewards for making it through the obstacle course of career and raising a family. No doubt a well-deserved break to some exotic locale for some R&R is justified.

But after a few take it easy escapes many of us find ourselves wanting more out of our expeditions. We want to satisfy curiosity, experience new cultures, investigate history first hand, in other words, we want to continue to learn.

As GypsyNesters we certainly fall into that category, and may have found the best way ever to do just that … a floating classroom.

Our favorite not-for-profit organization, Road Scholar, has chartered the cruise ship Aegean Odyssey to make this unique undertaking available. The adventures begin in April of 2020 with unique itineraries designed to explore some of the world’s most compelling destinations, including Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Italy, France, Portugal, Egypt and more.

We were lucky enough to participate in a trial run through the Greek Isles and can happily report that this is an amazing way to experience this part of the world. The Odyssey is small enough to get into some places that we never could have seen on a giant cruise ship, yet big enough to have all of the comforts.

It also served as our home away from home for the entire journey, which meant that we had more time to explore because we didn’t have to pack and unpack or move from hotel to hotel. We could simply walk on and off the ship and nose around to our hearts content after the scheduled field trips we had each day.

Not that we really needed to because the daily scheduled excursions were nothing short of incredible. Each group leader had studied Greek history, mythology, and civilization and all were native to the country so they had first-hand knowledge of the places we visited.

We followed in the footsteps of both gods and mortals, and discovered that sometimes it is hard to know which was which. Unlike the modern religions that we are familiar with, deities frequently mingled with humans, so much so that offspring often resulted.

Beginning and ending in Athens, the home of Athena, gave us a look at this phenomenon because temples were dedicated here to almost every god and demi-god. It also afforded us the extra time to not only see the Parthenon, but to investigate deeper by visiting the Acropolis Museum where many of the artifacts unearthed from the archaeological site of the Acropolis are displayed.

Having two days meant that we also had the chance to roam through the ancient agoras from both the Greek and Roman periods. This allowed for an up close look at ancient Greece’s best preserved ruin, the Temple of Hephaestus, along with the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the largest temple ever built in ancient Greece.

From the capital city we sailed off for ports of call on a half a dozen beautiful islands across the Aegean Sea including Crete, Rhodes, Kos, and the iconic Santorini. Perhaps nothing epitomizes the Greek Isles like the white washed houses and blue domed churches of Santorini.

Seeing them in person was like stepping into a postcard, but we also learned about thousands of years of history on the island. One of the world’s most violent volcanic eruptions created the unique crescent of land that is actually the rim of a caldera.

The explosion is thought to possibly be the inspiration for the legend of Atlantis and also left behind a buried city much like Pompeii. Akrotiri was covered with ash nearly four thousand years ago, creating one of the world’s best archeologic sites for studying life during the Bronze Age.

While we meandered through the newly unearthed ruins scientists continued to excavate more, so we saw not only the past results, but how they are currently being preserved. Interestingly, no bodies were found in the ash, meaning the population must have had some warning of the impending doom, unlike Pompeii.

At the end of the day the volcanic dust that still lingers in the air treated us to one of the vivid sunsets that Santorini is also so famous for. It seemed only right to offer a toast to Helios and Apollo while we watched from the deck above the pool on the Odyssey.

In another amazing mixture of science meeting mythology the island of Kos introduced us to Hippocrates. Signs of his influence were everywhere. We even lingered under a tree on the spot where he taught his theories of health and medicine to students over two thousand years ago.

High above the port we climbed up to the ruins of the Asclepeion where the father of modern medicine is thought to have received his medical training. The sanctuary was dedicated to Asclepius the demi-god of medicine, healing, rejuvenation, and physicians who was believed to be an ancestor of Hippocrates.

These temples of healing were found throughout ancient Greece and practiced purification with fresh air, water, and food followed by offerings or sacrifices.

All through the islands the style of traveling with experts to guide us during the day and researchers to lecture on the art, history, and mythology in the evenings brought the culture and land to life for all of us onboard.

All of the islands had unique attributes both historically and geographically, and we will have much more to say about each of them in stories we will feature here over the next few months.

We can’t say for certain what discoveries await for those who embark on a voyage aboard the Aegean Odyssey over the next three years, but we can say with certainty that it will be an experience to remember and a welcome addition to a lifetime of knowledge and better understanding of our world.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

See all of our previous adventures in Greece!

Thanks to Road Scholar for providing this lifelong learning adventure through the Greek Isles! As always, all opinions are our own.

Mistakes Not to Make When Designating Beneficiaries

We’re not attorneys or legal experts, but we want to share some helpful information that we’ve learned from those who are. In this post, we’re explaining why designating beneficiaries is important and the six common mistakes not to make…
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Designating beneficiaries is a loving and thoughtful way of caring for your loved ones in the event of your death. Without beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies, retirement assets, and many other accounts, these assets will pass through probate, a cumbersome process that results in high tax bills.

This post is in collaboration with Thingealogy: an online tool to help organize and share family history.

We’re not attorneys or legal experts, but we want to share some helpful information that we’ve learned from those who are. In this post, we’re explaining why designating beneficiaries is important and the six common mistakes not to make when designating beneficiaries. Keep in mind that wills, trust, and estate laws vary from state to state and sometimes even from year to year, so always check with a local estate planning attorney to learn the best way for you to designate beneficiaries.

Why Designating a Beneficiary is Important

Designating beneficiaries serves several purposes. First, by naming beneficiaries on each of your assets, you can make sure your assets go where you want them to. When you designate a beneficiary, you clearly state how you want your estate broken up and who should get things. Second, it’s helpful for your family to know your intentions. It makes a difficult time a bit easier when your loved ones don’t have to think about how to split up your assets.

Common Mistakes People Make When Designating a Beneficiary

But designating beneficiaries isn’t as straightforward as you might think. People make several common mistakes when going through the process—mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

Mistake #1: Not Naming a Beneficiary for All Accounts

Beneficiaries are needed for all life insurance policies, retirement, and non-retirement accounts. Some people forget to designate a beneficiary on every account, or they believe it will be too much paperwork so they put it off.

The company holding your account has rules in place if you don’t list a beneficiary. For life insurance, the benefit is usually paid to the probate estate. Retirement and non-retirement assets usually go to the spouse if the person was married, and if not, to the probate estate. It’s important to avoid probate since it can result in your loved ones having to pay higher taxes.

Mistake #2: Forgetting to Name a Contingent Beneficiary on All Accounts

It’s important to not only provide a primary beneficiary but also a secondary one. If your primary beneficiary passes away first and no contingent beneficiary is named, it’s the same as having no beneficiary.

Naming a contingent beneficiary may also give your primary beneficiary the option to pass some assets to the secondary person named. Someone might do this to share your gift if they don’t need the money or want to accept less due to tax implications.

Mistake #3: Not Reviewing and Updating Beneficiaries Regularly

Things change, so it’s important to make sure the beneficiaries are kept up-to-date. Changes like having a child, getting married, getting divorced, or experiencing the death of a beneficiary can all have an impact. How would you feel if you left out a child accidentally? Or if a portion of your estate goes to your ex-spouse because you neglected to take him or her off as the beneficiary of an account?

Doing an annual review of your beneficiary designations ensures your information is updated and your wishes will be followed.

Mistake #4: Not Using Specific Names or Naming the Wrong Beneficiary

It’s a good practice to use specific names when naming a beneficiary instead of referencing your relationship, such as children or parents. Many states won’t recognize stepchildren unless they are explicitly stated. Not being specific can also result in distant relatives that you don’t have a relationship with trying to gain a portion of your estate.

You also should check that the person’s full name is spelled out clearly. For example, if the person has Jr. after his name, you should include it to avoid any confusion. If the person has a common first name, be sure to include a middle name.

Mistake #5: Not Considering Special Circumstances

There are three situations that you will want to consider very carefully when designating a beneficiary. Your purpose in designating beneficiaries and providing an inheritance is to improve the well-being of your loved ones. So you’ll want to consider what will be best in each situation.

1. Designating a Beneficiary with Special Needs

Some people are eligible for government aid for a disability, and they are considered “special needs” from an estate-planning perspective. When you designate a beneficiary with special needs, they may be disqualified from this aid. This may put the person in a position where they must spend down the inheritance and reapply for aid to be able to qualify again. Be sure to consult with an estate planning attorney familiar with these matters.

2. Naming a Minor Child as a Beneficiary

When you name a minor child as a beneficiary, they generally get access at the age of 18 or 21. However, most children of that age have no experience with managing money so they may make poor decisions. This situation is best handled with a trust.

3. Naming Someone Unable to Manage Money

You’ll also want to consider if and how you designate a beneficiary with known financial problems. Again, your goal in providing the inheritance is to help your loved ones by improving their life with your gift, so you want to be sure they are set up for success. Again, you can stipulate how money should be dispersed through a trust.

Mistake #6: Inconsistency with Estate Planning Documents

Your estate planning documents should match your beneficiary designations. For example, if your will states that you want your spouse to get half of the estate, but your life insurance and retirement benefits show your child getting everything, this can cause a problem. In many states, the beneficiary designation will override your will.

While it takes some time to review all your assets and ensure that your beneficiaries are all designated properly and as you want them to be, it’s time worth spending. And knowing the common mistakes people often make will help you to better plan, enabling you to stay in control of your assets while caring for your loved ones.

Download a handy tip sheet summarizing these mistakes to print and reference in the future!

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

It’s All Greek to Us


So we have finished up another life long learning experience with our favorite not-for-profit company, Road Scholar. For the first time in our many adventures with them we explored by ship on the Aegean Odyssey, which beginning April 2020 will be exclusively sailing as a floating campus…
CONTINUE READING >> 

So we have finished up another life-long learning experience with our favorite not-for-profit company, Road Scholar. For the first time in our many adventures with them we explored by ship on the Aegean Odyssey, which beginning April 2020 will be exclusively sailing as a floating campus for Road Scholar.

Here are the highlights of our ten days across the Greek Isles!

Then be sure to come back here over the next few weeks for in-depth coverage after the trip.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

See all of our previous adventures in Greece!

Thanks to Road Scholar for providing this lifelong learning adventure through the Greek Isles!

From a Hemp Plant to a Hemp-Derived CBD Product: The Process

Ever wonder how CBD products are made? All those delicious gummies and pet treats that people have been raving about have a common foundation. They all come from a plant- the hemp plant…
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Ever wonder how CBD products are made? All those delicious gummies and pet treats that people have been raving about have a common foundation. They all come from a plant- the hemp plant.

What Is a Hemp Plant?

There are many different species of the cannabis plant, and hemp is one of them. Also referred to as industrial hemp, this species is non-intoxicating, as it contains no more than 0.3% THC (the intoxicating cousin). A lot of people confuse THC and hemp. While it’s true that both of them originate from the same plant, they are genetically different and are further classified by application, chemical composition, and cultivation practices.

Fun fact: The discovery of material produced from hemp over 10,000 years ago is evidence that hemp was the first crop ever cultivated by mankind. So, CBD products might be new, but the cultivation and harvesting of hemp certainly are not.

Cultivation and Harvesting

The interest of growing industrial hemp for CBD production is quite new. Historically, people didn’t cultivate hemp in order to infuse it in their CBD products. Hemp plant uses included:

Building Materials
Clothing
Paper
Crop and Textiles
Food

Harvesting hemp is a significant step for CBD production. The presence of mildew and mold on the leaves of the hemp hinders photosynthesis, slowly causing the plant to die from deficiency of energy. That being said, the timely harvest is crucial. When the trichomes on the plant’s bud shift from white to milky-white, it’s a clear sign that it’s time to harvest.

Another important factor in determining when to pull the harvest trigger is the weather. Coincidentally, harvest time usually happens during hurricane season. Unfortunately, harvesting requires substantial labor. Most growers for the CBD market rely on labor to cut the stalk and load the biomass (the residual organic material after the flowers and/or seeds have been harvested from the plant). This process necessitates a lot of time and physical effort.

Extraction Process

CBD Extraction is the initial step to separate the wanted natural products from the tested raw materials. While solvent extraction is the most popularly used method, CBD extraction companies are not tethered to this only option. When it comes to extracting CBD, there is more than one method.

Distillation Method
Extraction
Pressing and Sublimation
Maceration
Percolation
Extraction
Pressurized Liquid Extraction
Ultrasound-Assisted Extraction

Types of Extraction Process

1. Alcohol Extraction

The first method used to extract CBD from hemp was through the use of alcohol. Drenching certain plants in alcohol can alter their biochemistry, structure, and character. Before CBD, alcohol extraction was used primarily to produce herbal tinctures for medical use.

When alcohol is utilized and left for a specific amount of time, it brings out the cannabinoids like CBD and other flavonoids in the plant. Alcohol extraction typically uses a base element such as ethanol, (high-proof grain-based alcohol) that provides minimal loss of the cannabinoids, while also dissolving them in a liquid that prevents them from further damage like oxidation.

2. CO2 Extraction

The second method we’re going to look at is the supercritical (or subcritical) CO2 method.  This technique employs carbon dioxide under tremendous pressure and extremely low temperatures to separate, conserve, and maintain the purity of the oil. This method calls for costly CBD extraction machines and skilled operatives. However, when executed properly, the end product is pure and potent.

3. Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is one of the most common methods used to extract and isolate essential oils from the hemp plant. This process is relatively simple compared to the others and calls for much less expensive pieces of equipment and labor. Steam distillation occurs when the steam evaporates the plant material’s compounds, which go through a condensation and collection process to eventually obtain the oil.

Initiate Raw Materials Testing

Before manufacturing is in effect, all raw materials need to be examined for purity as well as quality. Depending on the type of CBD product being manufactured, as few as 20 to as many as 55 raw materials may be required for further development. Although this step sounds extremely important, the extent of raw material examination is defined by the manufacturer. That being said, not all manufacturers put that much importance in testing their raw materials.

Product Formulation

Moving on to CBD product formulation. Product formulation is producing a new product and later introducing it to the market. Once CBD products have been formulated, companies can either manufacture them in-house or by a CBD contract manufacturing company. The completed and tested products are then set for distribution.

Designing a new product formulation is really expensive, time-consuming, and requires a lot of effort on the development teams’ end. Why would companies go through all this trouble, you ask?

There are hundreds of different CBD products available – many of them not so different from each other. This means that if a company launches a new dull, CBD oil flavor brand onto the market, the chances of making an impact is really low. To be different, companies want to make sure their CBD product is specially produced to resolve a new problem.

Product Is Tested By a Lab (Third-Party Testing)

The next step in the process is CBD lab testing. Independent laboratory testing means that the labs testing the finished goods are not affiliated with the manufacturer or the brand. Their mission is to examine the potency and purity of the products to provide transparency and quality control.

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.