America’s History is filled with Goodness!

America was dedicated to God in 1607.

One hundred and five settlers arrived at Cape Henry, Virginia in 1607. They brought with them a seven foot, heavy wooden cross from England on a very small boat. Pastor Robert Hunt declared that the gospel would go forth throughout this land and to the whole world. The settlers moved to what became Jamestown and established the first permanent English colony. They gathered three times a day at the center of town to pray and dedicated America to God. They prayed that for generations to come America would be a country where God’s work was fulfilled. America’s history is filled with many who worked to make this a country where God’s presence was felt and his love for his children was seen. One of these people was Anna Gardner. She was born into a Quaker family in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1816. Anna was raised in the Quaker belief that all men and women are equal. She became a teacher, writer, and abolitionist.

In 1841, Anna held an antislavery meeting where Frederick Douglas spoke. When she was a child, her father had helped save a runaway slave and his family from slave catchers and she never forgot. Anna worked tirelessly against slavery and for women’s rights. After the Civil War ended, she taught in Freemen’s schools in North Carolina and South Carolina.

In the late 1870’s, Anna turned her attention to women’s rights and spoke out on this injustice. Many of her former students were now teaching in the Freemen’s schools and she felt the need to address another inequality issue. Anna died at the age of 85 and was remembered as a servant of God who fought for equal treatment for all his children.

The Quakers were instrumental in establishing and running the underground railroad. According to National Geographic, 100,00 slaves found freedom via the underground railroad between 1810 and 1850. The Quakers were considered the first to actively help slaves escape, but many others joined them in order to accomplish this large number.

There are many people throughout America’s history who remembered that America was dedicated to God by the first settlers. We have come a long way in accomplishing this, but have farther to go. I think it’s important to remember all the good that has been achieved and the people who carried the load. Maybe remembering the acts of faithful people in the past will inspire us today.

First Day of School Traditions!

IT’S BACK TO SCHOOL ACROSS THE WORLD!

Handmade or purchased cones are given to children starting first grade in Germany and Austria. They are called schuletuete which means school bag. School supplies are in the cone along with sweets. I made mine with two favorite things…MMs and crayons. When I was in Germany many years ago, I saw them in the stores and was told they were filled with mostly candy.

In Russia, the first day of school is called Day of Knowledge. Children bring flowers to their teachers which I think is a wonderful idea. Students are given bright colored balloons in return. Children receive gifts of sweets and pencils from their parents.

Parents of children entering first grade in Kazakhstan often host a feast in celebration. The feast often includes lamb and sweets. The child is asked to recite seven generations of grandfathers. I found this to be one of the most unusual traditions.

Children in Italy wear work smocks on the first day of school and the boys’ smocks are blue checked and the girls’ are pink checked for kindergarteners. First graders and older wear dark blue smocks and they are frequently personalized.

Holland parents transport the little first graders to school on the first day in cargo bikes. It looks like it sounds. A large box sits between two wheels. It looks like a fun way to go to school.

Many of us have our own first day traditions that frequently begins with pictures. I also made a special dinner and dessert for my children. I remember chocolate chip cookies being made the most often. I hope all of our children and grandchildren will have a school year they not only learn but enjoy.

Biting Ants!

Gardening holds surprises!

Ants may look innocent, but they can be vicious! My husband and I decided we would reclaim a weed patch by our housing development’s sign by planting flowers. We worked for a couple hours digging weeds and then decided we’d plant and mulch the area. I returned two days later with five plants and water.

The first hole I dug was the home of ants. I saw thousands of white eggs and ants, and they were not pleased with me and my shovel. I redirected the shoveling to widen the hole and maybe not disturb the ant city but this city was enormous! I decided to continue where I was because I didn’t have many options as to where the flowers could be planted.

I was wearing gloves and I carefully lowered the flower down into its new home and was immediately covered in little pissants or sugar ants. They covered my gloves and wrists and started crawling up my arms. Before I could get my gloves off I felt the bites. I tore my gloves off and began brushing the ants off me. They landed on my shirt and legs. Wearing shorts was not the best idea that day because the ants nibbled on my legs too. I eventually freed myself from their army but later discovered both wrists were covered in bites or stings. I read that ants do both.

After five days, the itching has stopped, but the red marks remain. On the bright side, the area has now been transformed to a pretty flower bed that I hope people will enjoy seeing. I thought it important to warn other gardeners of how vicious those little ants can be. I have also dug into a bee’s nest which I admit was a little terrifying. A little drama just makes gardening more exciting and is not a deterrent. I still love it!

Butterflies are Magical!

Monarch butterflies bring beauty to the garden.

Like most people I welcome butterflies to my garden and enjoy watching them go from flower to flower. Many stories have been written about butterflies and fairies. Fairies are drawn with wings like butterflies and fairies are also said to catch a ride on a butterfly. However, I think they ride on dragon flies most often.

I thought I knew a lot about monarchs, but I didn’t know they only live two to six weeks until recently. The most amazing thing for me has always been the metamorphosis process from caterpillar to a beautiful winged creature. My grandmother said that butterflies carry prayers to heaven and that is why God gave them such beautiful wings. Maybe she was right.

I remember seeing dead butterflies displayed on boards when I was a little girl and hated it. I know some people did it as a teaching aid, but I thought it was cruel. Seeing dead butterflies didn’t make me want to learn about them. It just made me sad.

The butterfly in the picture is dining on my butterfly bush. I’ve only seen a handful of visitors to the bush, but I’m hoping for more. It’s almost August so the time will go quickly before they are gone. My hummingbirds will also head south and I will miss them. The good news is they will both return next summer!

Hope you are enjoying the summer visitors and these long days!

My Favorite Place!

My garden brings me such joy!

Not long ago I was in a group where we were asked to separate according to our favorite places. It was an ice breaker activity which I admit I am not a fan of. The categories were beach, mountains, and exciting city. I didn’t choose any of them. Fortunately someone else didn’t either. Hers was her home and mine is my garden.

I love my flowers and the critters it attracts. Hummingbirds are at the top of the list. This year I have a baby bunny living in the bed, and I know he or she has eaten my pansies; I don’t care. It is so cute! I feel the presence of God when I’m in my garden. Its beauty is something only God could create. I have filled the beds with a variety of flowers so that I have color from spring through fall . I sit in a chair with a cup of coffee and smile. Memories frequently fill my head because my garden has hosted many festivities. Graduation parties, weddings, birthdays, and holidays have all been celebrated there. It is a place of joy because of its beauty and the memories it holds.

I have been fortunate to have been able to travel to many beautiful places, but for me a favorite place needs to be a place I can go to frequently. It is a place where I relax and count my blessings. A place filled with memories and a place that makes me smile just by being there. I’d love to hear where your favorite places are. Please share.

Our American Symbol!

Our flag represents freedom to people all around the world.

Seventeen year old Robert Heft of Lancaster, Ohio was in high school in 1958 when he submitted his design for the American flag. His design was selected by President Dwight Eisenhower and has lasted for over 50 years. Previous to this design, the design had changed 27 times.

The colors were chosen by the founding fathers of our country and each color has meaning. Red represents valor and hardiness. White stands for purity and innocence, and blue means justice and perseverance. The fifty stars represent each of the fifty states and the 13 stripes stand for the first 13 colonies.

Flag Day is a national holiday (not federal) which is celebrated on June 14. Why June 14 one might ask. It was on June 14, 1777 that the American flag was approved at the Second Continental Congress. At that time, thirteen stars were put on a blue background to represent a new constellation. I found it interesting that creating a new government was compared to creating a constellation. It must have seemed that overwhelming and grand.

Every store seems to be selling flags of all sizes in preparation for July 4. People have decorated their homes and yards with flags. I see them everywhere, and it adds to the excitement. I’m excited to be able to sit in a field and watch fireworks this year. Hope everyone is able to see friends and family this weekend and enjoy being together! Don’t forget the sparklers!

Fungi Houses for Rent!

Fairies Wanted!

Looking for a new home? Newly grown fungus homes are available for rent. Their shining white domes reflect the sun during the day and the moonlight at night. Picture the fun you and your fellow fairies can have frolicking in the lush green grass! The homes are close to flowers, herbs and fountains. It’s a perfect setting for any fairy family!

I think it would be fun to have fairies in my yard, so why not advertise! When I was in Ireland, I was told we should always inform the fairies before we mow if there are toadstools in the lawn. Of course it would be better to mow around the toadstools. Some people do believe in fairies and tell stories of people who have seen them. Of course telling fairy stories is a great draw for tourists.

I think of Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell when I think of fairies. She was Peter’s friend and helped him. I have learned that people in the middle ages did not see fairies that way. In fact, they were afraid to say the word fairies and instead called them little people or the hidden people. Not all fairies were believed to be good, have wings, or were small.

Fairy rings were either thought to be good or evil. In some countries the devil was responsible for them and should be avoided or they were good luck. Since fungus does not die, fairy rings can continue to live and increase in size. France has a fairy ring that is believed to be 700 years old. Some people believe fairies dance inside fairy rings, and I like that theory.

Many children and some adults have fairy gardens. I made one with a granddaughter a few years ago with things we found in the yard. We collected leaves, twigs, flowers and created a little pond for the fairies. I remember it as a fun summer activity. I heard a woman comment that she believed in angels and had never seen one, so maybe fairies do exist. She did have a point. Has anyone seen a fairy? Please let me know.

Memorial Day’s Flower

Poppies are America’s flower for remembering those who died in war.

The National American Legion voted to make the poppy the official emblem of remembrance in 1920. This followed the effort of Moina Michael who had been raising money for veterans by selling fabric made poppies. She had read John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Field in the Ladies Home Journal.

McCrae was a Canadian surgeon in northern Belgium in 1915 and was struck by the sight of red flowers blooming on war torn fields. The Germans had used chlorine gas for the first time and 87,000 Allied soldiers died or were wounded and 37,000 German soldiers were killed. He wrote a poem that was first printed in Punch magazine from the perspective of the soldiers that had died. This poem became very popular and was used at numerous memorial services. McCrae died in 1918 from meningitis and pneumonia.

Moina Michael was a college professor in Georgia, but she took a leave of absence to work with the YWCA. After reading In Flanders Field, she wrote her own poem We Shall Keep the Faith and the idea of selling fabric created poppies to help veterans was born. She then was able to convince the Georgia American Legion members to adopt the flower and the idea flourished to become the national emblem.

In Europe, a Frenchwoman named Anna Guerin supported the idea of selling poppies and began a campaign in France. The idea spread to England and other countries. Australia, Canada, and New Zealand joined the people of European countries in wearing poppies on November 11, Armistice Day.

I don’t know when I stopped seeing poppies worn on Memorial Day, but I remember them being sold and worn when I was a little girl. My poppies aren’t red, but I remember. I remember my classmates who died in Vietnam. My mother remembered those who died in WWII. Her parents remembered those who died in WWI. Will a time come when there is no war? I can only pray.

A Place Called Waiting

Waiting is exhausting!

Dr. Seuss talks about the ‘Waiting Place’ in his book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! He mentions other non- desirable places, but the waiting place is the most challenging.

He talks about being in a slump and says un-slumping oneself is not easily done. I agree, but at least a person can do something! In the waiting place all one does is wait.

Entering an area with unmarked streets and darkened windows is scary, but one can keep moving until he or she has left the area. Moving is better then waiting.

When I’m waiting I feel I have no control. Sitting in traffic, standing in long lines, waiting for test results or a pie to finish baking are times when I just have to accept the fact I have to wait. It’s not easy.

There are other difficult places Dr. Seuss mentions, but he ends on a positive note. He says he knows you’ll face your problems and you will succeed. You have to succeed because he ends his book with Kid, You’ll Move Mountains!

I like this book because it cleverly describes the challenging areas in life one faces, like being lonely and afraid. He also warns about getting mixed up with strange birds. That always brings a smile! I know I have done that a time or two in my life.

Wishing you all a good week and hoping none of you get stuck in the waiting place!

Little Red Cap

The Grimm Brothers’ story was about Little Red Cap.

Most people are familiar with Little Red Riding Hood. In fact there are 25 adaptations of the story that I read about and probably more. Children in Spain to China have enjoyed this story. One version is written with a Cajun twist, another is written from the wolf’s point of few, and another is written from a kind little wolf who only pretends to be bad for the sake of the story.

The Grimm Brothers ended their story with an alternate ending. They begin by saying, ” Some folks say the last story is not true…,” and then explained what really happened. Red Cap was not fooled by the wolf and she and her grandmother tricked the wolf and he died when he fell off their roof. I liked that ending better than having the wolf eat the grandmother and Red Cap.

The book that I have was published in 1944 and the copyright date is 1920. In reading these stories, I found they were different from the ones I remember. For example, Snow White was not awakened with a kiss. She was awakened when her glass encasement was shaken and the piece of poisoned apple fell from her mouth.

I never read that the witch’s cottage in Hansel and Grethel had “caskets of pearls and precious stones” which the children took with them when they escaped. I think that made the story better.

Grimms’ Cinderella was a very different story. There is no fairy godmother, and there isn’t a ball the three sisters attend. Instead of a ball, there is a festival that lasts for three nights and birds bring dresses for Cinderella at her mother’s grave. The prince pours pitch so Cinderella will lose a slipper on the third night and a golden slipper gets stuck in it. The slipper is not glass.

Parents tell the children in both Cinderella and Hansel and Grethel that God will watch over them. I know that isn’t found in later versions. The first edition of Grimm Brothers stories was published in 1812 and had 86 stories. I wonder how different those stories are than the ones I read published in 1944. (Grethel was spelled this way in my book)