Q: How can I post artwork, schedules and pictures on my stainless-steel refrigerator, since it is not magnetized?
A: The smooth, bare expanse of a gleaming new stainless steel refrigerator looks clean and modern, and works in nearly any kitchen. The material, an alloy of steel designed to resist corrosion, may contain additional elements to increase its strength and resiliency. But these added elements can also cancel out steel's magnetic properties, making it impossible for you to personalize it with your photos and kids' art projects.
There are a few ways around this. Simplest among them is to use one of the removable adhesive products available at office-supply and crafts stores (BlueStik is one brand). Hooks or clips that attach with small suction cups are another option. You can also look for Happeez clips, notepads and photo frames. These use an adhesive designed to grip smooth surfaces without leaving residue behind. They can be attached and removed repeatedly.
If you miss your magnet collection, install a magnetic board in the kitchen or find one with suction cups and attach it to the refrigerator. Another option is to paint a wall with magnetic paint (one brand is Kling Magnetics) and use it rather than the fridge for postings.
Q: Why do potatoes grow so well in Idaho?
A: Holding the spot as the top potato grower in the U.S., Idaho produced 13 billion pounds in 2009 - about one-third of the nation's output. Climate is the main factor. Potatoes come from the Andes, so they grow best in high-altitude regions with warm days and cold nights. Much of the state fills that bill; days can reach into the 90s, with a 20- to 40-degree drop in temperature at night.
The state also has rich soil; ash from 17 million years of volcanic activity has left the land full of nutrients, with few rocks.
Finally, Idaho's spuds get lots of water, thanks to the Snake River and efficient irrigation.
Q: What is the origin of the 21-gun salute?
A: This gesture originated in the 14th century, when naval ships entering foreign ports would discharge their cannons. The act left the vessel defenseless, making it clear that no harm was intended. Ships adopted seven-gun salutes, likely because the number was perceived to have mystical powers. The response from land was three shots for every one, for a total of 21.
In the United States, the custom was to fire a shot for each state, starting at 17 in 1810. In 1875, we fell in line with other nations and adopted 21 shots for international salutes. Today military installations save this salute for current and past presidents, presidents-elect, heads of state, and reigning royalty. At noon on the Fourth of July, however, 50 shots are fired - one for each state - in honor of the Declaration of Independence.
Questions should be addressed to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 601 W. 26th St., 9th floor, New York, N.Y. 10001. Questions may also be sent by email to: