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)

The Great Seducer!

Plants, plants, and more plants!

Some people go crazy over shoes or purses. Not me; my obsession is with plants. One of my sons told me if I didn’t stop creating flower beds, we wouldn’t have any grass left. Funny how kids turn into adults. I recently said the same thing to him!

I do have a lot of flowers and that means a lot of perennials, but I I can’t go through the summer without annuals. There are baskets and pots and various locations where color is needed. I need color to brighten the beds all summer and that means annuals.

Plant popularity changes from decade to decade. Roses however are always valued in a garden. Gardening didn’t become a hobby until the Victorian Age. During this era,(mid to late 1800s) the Victorian fern, orchids and celery were in demand and the wealthy had time to grow them. They enjoyed the fresh air and appreciated the results of their labor. The 1920s and 30s saw potted plants for the first time which eliminated growing flowers from seeds. I appreciate not having to grow from seeds, so I can see why more people took to gardening.

The 40s and 50s saw people using their back yards for entertaining and flowers were studied and planted. Flower societies were launched such as the American Daffodil society and the American Lily Society. Houseplants became popular in the 60s and 70s and are currently popular. We all know how trends reappear.

I could write a lot more about gardening, but I won’t. My garden is my sanctuary. I thank God every day for his creations and that I am able to enjoy them in my own yard. My tulips were particularly pretty this year, so I’m sharing a picture. They survived the snow that bent them over, but once it melted, they stood. They are a lot like people I think.

Dandy Dandelions!

Dandelions are flowers that are considered weeds because of how easily they spread.

Dandelions are one of the few plants that every part can be used. It arrived in America in the mid 1600’s when settlers brought the seeds because they knew the value of the plant. Dandelions had been used for centuries for medicinal purposes and the settlers knew this. The Egyptians, Romans and Greeks all knew they improved various conditions from fevers to constipation.

As a child, I remember eating dandelion greens. I was told it would taste like spinach which I liked. I remember it being very bitter. I know it is very nutritious, but I’m not inclined to pick any leaves. I read it’s best to harvest the leaves before the flowers bloom. The internet has recipes if anyone is interested.

If you want to dig up your dandelions, consider waiting until they are finished blooming. They are a food source for bees, butterflies, moths and some birds. They are also pretty.

I was surprised to learn that dandelion wine is made from the flowers. I read a recipe for it and it sounded pretty good. Lots of sugar, but it also had lemons, oranges, and raisins. Fermentation is one to two years. Tea is made from the roots and that is what is sipped to relieve ailments. It really is a wonderful plant, but I’m a gardener, so I dig them after they bloom. In case you’re wondering, the picture is not from my yard. I only have a couple.

Hope everyone is enjoying the spring. Blossoms are every where and those with allergies are suffering. My eyes itch, but I don’t care. I can’t resist being outside in spring’s beauty.

Anyone Have a Match?

Where have all the matches gone?

I still enjoy the thrill of striking a match. Yes, thrill. I like the sound, odor and of course the flash of bright light. I don’t remember what age I was when I was allowed to strike a match, but I know I felt very grown up. This past Christmas, two of my granddaughters were allowed to strike matches and throw them into the fireplace. They had never down this before at ages 11 and 12.

I read on the box that the Diamond Match Company has been making matches for over 100 years. Its founder was Columbus Barber and his company was in Akron, Ohio. He later moved it to Barberton, Ohio. The company produced 85 percent of matches used in the United States during the early 1900’s. Unfortunately working there created a serious health problem for the workers. Inhaling the phosphorous that was used in the matches caused the cartilage in the jaw to deteriorate and people were unable to eat and speak. By 1910, red phosphorous replaced white phosphorous. The side of the box (striking surface) contains red phosphorous, binder and powdered glass. The head of the match consists of sulfur, potassium chlorate, starch and glue. I am always in awe of how people think of these things.

The spark of a match is frequently used to represent an emotion. Writers say sparks fly when people argue or when people feel a spark of attraction for each other. When an idea comes to me, it feels like a match has been struck in my brain. Sometimes those matches take awhile to light, but I am thankful when they do.

As I look at my various flower beds today, I need those matches in my brain to start igniting. As always there are plants that need to moved, but to where?

Passover and Holy Week Align

This year Passover began on Palm Sunday and ends on Easter.

Passover and Easter almost always overlap. but it is unusual to have all days in alignment. It does make sense that the two religious times coincide since Jesus was in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover when he was arrested.

Jesus was Jewish and it was customary to travel to Jerusalem to worship at the temple during Passover. When people heard that Jesus was entering the city, they greeted him by saying Hosanna (in Hebrew means save us). When he entered the temple to pray, he was furious to see all the merchants and money changers. He angrily turned over the tables where they worked. Jesus declared that the temple was a house of prayer and they were defiling it. Only Jewish and Tyrian shekels were accepted at the temple so all foreign coins had to be changed, and all offerings had to be purchased at the temple. The temple was a place of business for many people and not a house of worship.

People of the Jewish faith continue to honor and remember Moses leading the Hebrew people from slavery during Passover. The Pharaoh wasn’t easily convinced and it took plagues of locusts, flies, frogs, boils, hails and water turning to blood. The last was the worst when the first born child of the Egyptians died. The Angel of Death passed over the Hebrew households because they put lamb’s blood over their doors. Jesus sat with his disciples for the Seder meal in Jerusalem before he was arrested in memory of what the Hebrew people had endured.

This Thursday is Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday and Christians will attend church in memory of Jesus’s last supper. Good Friday will be remembered in prayer and some will walk the stations of the cross. Joyous hymns will fill churches as Jesus’ resurrection is celebrated. Jesus was Jewish. Christianity began after he died and was resurrected.

Having two holy weeks coincide means God is hearing from a lot of people this week. I’m one among the many who are praying, and I am thankful I live in a country where I can pray and attend church.

Decorating Eggs is an Ancient Custom

Wooden Easter Eggs are a Polish tradition.

Pinsanki is the Polish word for Easter eggs. It comes from the verb pisac which means to write. Beautiful carvings on wood or melted wax drawn on an egg to withstand dye was used to decorate the eggs. I had students from the Ukraine who knew women who used the wax and dye method, and they said it was a tradition in some families but not theirs. I would have loved to have seen these eggs.

I don’t know where I got my two wooden eggs, but I display them every year. I read that wooden eggs have been used at the White House Easter Egg Roll since 1981 when President Reagan and his wife offered eggs that had the signatures of famous people. They became a valued treasure. Egg rolling represents the stone being rolled away from Christ’s tomb.

Decorated eggs have been associated with spring for thousands of years and in burials. Farmers would bury them in the field to ensure fertility of their crops. Eggs also represented rebirth and Ostrich size eggs made from silver and gold have been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians. Real ostrich eggs that had been decorated were also found in tombs that were painted, and engraved. These are believed to represent the soul would be resurrected.

Early Christians dyed eggs red to represent the blood of Christ being shed on the cross. In Greece, the red eggs are used to play an egg cracking game. The tips of the eggs are tapped together and the person with the unbroken egg then tries to crack the other end of his opponent’s egg. While cracking, one person says, Christ has risen. The other responds, Indeed he has risen. The person with the unbroken egg believes he will be rewarded with good luck.

Many of us will color Easter eggs soon and will fill baskets with chocolate eggs and bunnies. Cadbury made the first chocolate egg in 1875 and they are still being made. I am a fan of Hershey’s little chocolate eggs. They fit nicely inside a plastic egg. One of these years I want to try the wax and dye method. If I do, I’ll let you know.

The Happiest Faces of Spring

Pansies bring joy with their bright colors and cheerful smiles.

I can’t remember an Easter that pansies weren’t outside in pots and Easter lilies weren’t inside filling the house with fragrance. I have happily continued this tradition that my mother started.

As you know, I enjoy research and even though I knew that pansies are edible ( I wouldn’t eat them) I didn’t know that they had been used for medicinal purposes. Chinese medicine used them at one time to prevent cancerous tumors and also as a source of nutrition. The Greeks thought that anger would be reduced by munching on a pansy and the Romans believed they cured headaches and dizziness. Plants have always been used to treat ailments, so it’s not surprising.

I also learned that in Victorian England it was not proper to openly express affection, so pansy bouquets were wrapped in doilies and quietly passed to a sweetheart. Today they are considered a gift of platonic love to be given a parent or a friend. Like most flowers, the color carries a meaning. I love all the colors and this year I have orange pansies for the first time.

If you are looking for something to bring you or someone else a daily dose of happiness, fill a pot with an assortment of pansies and set it on the porch. Every day when you leave the house and return, you will be greeted with smiles!