Weedflower

The book Weedflower tells the story of a Japanese internment camp in Arizona.

Weedflower was written by Cynthia Kadohata and my students and I read this when I was teaching. At that time, I had no idea I would share two granddaughters with their Japanese grandmother. I recently bought the book for my granddaughters and thought I’d share some of the things I learned from researching Japanese Internment Camps.

Ten internment camps housed 120,000 Japanese who were removed from the west coast of America shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Transports began in February 1942. There were ten camps in the following states: California, Montana, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona. The camp in Poston, Arizona, was built on a Native American reservation. This was the setting of Weedflower.

The book is written through the experience of a young girl, Sumiko, and is historically correct. The Native Americans did not want the camp and resented the camp having electricity and running water. The Japanese people were fearful of the Native Americans and believed they were savages because of the stories they had heard. Sumiko developed a friendship with a Mohave boy and a Romeo and Juliet story unfolds.

Interesting things I learned from my research: Canada sent 24,000 to 26 Japanese internment camps. Mexico also had internment camps and zones of confinement. As a result of the Japanese workers digging irrigation canals, Poston, Arizona, became an agricultural center. Men were allowed to enlist in the army and fight in Europe during WW II and 33,000 Japanese Americans did. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was composed almost entirely of second generation American soldiers of Japanese descent (Nisei) and is known as the most decorated unit in US military history.

Why is the book called Weedflower? Sumiko’s family grew and sold carnations, but she loved the weedflowers best and took the seed to the desert where they grew. I have no idea what it is, but I took a picture of a weedflower growing in an area where grass is struggling to survive. It’s my weedflower, but unlike Sumiko’s, it doesn’t have a scent.

Pie for Everyone!

Fruit pies were not eaten until the 1500s.

Summer is pie season at my house. Fresh fruit calls me to showcase it in a flaky crust. I read that Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) enjoyed fruit pies and cherry was her favorite. Early settlers brought their love of pie to America with them. They imported bees in order to have honey to sweeten their pies and maple syrup, molasses and cane sugar was also used. Pies were cooked in long narrow pans called coffins and coffins became known as crusts in the late 1770s. I’m glad that change occurred!

The first pies were meat pies and and were eaten in Egypt. These had a single crust that could have originally been made from reeds. The early crusts were not edible. This was true for centuries because they were designed to hold the filling. Hand pies were meat pies that had thick crusts for workers to carry in England in the 1800s so taste was not a consideration. The Romans created the first top crust and in the 16th century was used to hide a surprise for guests of royalty. The nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence was based on fact. Live birds and other critters were baked in pies to impress the guests. (Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.} If a bird flew out of my pie, I’d never eat pie again!

A recipe for American pumpkin pie is found in American Cookery written by Amelia Simmon’s in 1796. It was called pumpkin pudding and was baked in a crust. Apple pie became known as America’s favorite due to soldiers in WW II writing they missed mom and apple pie. It is almost apple pie season and the types of apples that are best for baking can be found online. Cortland apples have always been a favorite, but I use a variety.

Many are familiar with the saying eat humble pie. Humble pie (originally umble) was a poor man’s pie frequently made from deer innards in medieval times. To admit you were wrong means is to eat humble pie.

The peach pie in the picture tasted as good as it looks. Labor Day will require more pies. It’s just not a holiday unless there’s a pie!

The Clothes We Choose!

Our clothes can make a statement.

Like a lot of people, I have a closet full of clothes but I tend to wear the same things repeatedly. My daughter walked into the kitchen the other day and said, “I hope you don’t wear that out of the house!” I informed her it was one of my work shirts. I was baking and when I bake I get flour everywhere. Kids! Funny, I can remember telling her she wasn’t allowed to wear something outside of the house when she was a teenager. We were both concerned with people’s impressions.

Some clothing immediately identifies a person’s profession. Some might tell a little about their personality and some I’m afraid tells our age. I wear jeans, but they look nothing like my granddaughters!

With school about to start, kids will be selecting their first day of school outfit. Everyone wants to make a good first impression. The outfit is intended to instill confidence. Adults repeat the first day outfit experience when they dress for a job interview. We all know the truth. It’s not the clothes; it’s the person. The best advice I remember receiving was be the person you want to be.

Becoming the person you want to be doesn’t mean what profession you want to pursue. It’s something deeper. What kind of a person do you want to become? Any career counselor can advise on training and education in order to obtain a career, but they don’t teach how to become the kind of person you envision.

Who teaches that? For me, it’s the church. I know church attendance has declined, but since the world has gotten so crazy maybe people will find their way to church and God. A church where the Gospel is taught and God’s love is felt is the kind of church I attend. The comfort I find in church is like wearing my favorite warm sweater. God is the great comforter and not only listens, but encourages. If anyone is searching, I urge you to look for a pastor and church where you will feel God’s presence. He does love us!

Life is Like a Garden!

The needs of a garden are similar to a person’s.

I love my garden and so do the weeds, rabbits and deer. I spend a lot of time tending it, and I enjoy doing it. The quiet time spent in my garden gives me time to think and reflect on life. I realized that the events that occur in a garden can be compared to life’s events.

Everyone experiences surprises in their life. Some are good and some are not. A visit from a deer is not a good surprise for the plants. Having their buds eaten deprives them from showing their beautiful blossoms. Illness and accidents alter many of our plans and may keep us from showing what we are capable of producing.

Plants need water and sunshine and so do we. Plants also need to be divided and weeds need to be pulled so the plants can thrive. That’s where people may have difficulty. Pulling weeds out of our lives is not always easy. It’s not always easy in a garden either. Sometimes a shovel is required.

Identifying the weeds is step one. Weeds that interfere with a person’s life can be an attitude, another person, a habit or even a job. Pulling out the weed changes the entire look of the flower bed and it changes lives.

I use fertilizer to help my plants grow. My personal fertilizer is prayer. Talking to God is uplifting and I highly recommend it if you don’t regularly pray. Seeing God’s creations in the garden is a great starting point. Praise comes first and then prayer. August has arrived which means summer is going quickly. Enjoy the plants of summer and consider pulling the weeds in your life that are keeping you from blooming.

What’s Inside?

Everyone has hidden treasures and sorrows inside.

I remember being in a group and was asked to share something no one knew about you. I was appalled and didn’t think anyone would share, but they did. Some were serious events that were shared and others were funny. I think I shared castrating my cat in cat anatomy by mistake and the instructor telling the class he thought it revealed I had deep seated psychological issues against men.

Many of us have scars on our body and we can tell others what the injury was but people can’t see the scars that are inside. Those are the ones that frequently don’t heal and some of us pick at them to make sure they don’t heal. Asking God to help us forget and forgive is the only thing I know that works.

We all probably know people who never appear happy. They complain about others, their job, and various others things. When they enter a room, a cloud of despair is with them. It is difficult to even talk with someone like this because nothing positive seems to get through the doom and gloom. I don’t know the scars that are inside, but I believe God could help heal. I know he helped me heal my inner wounds.

I believe we all have gifts to be discovered and shared. We need to feel good about ourselves. So much time is spent on electronics, I wonder if both young and old are finding time to discover or remember their inner gifts. Would it make them happier?

I’m not much for making lists or keeping a journal but I know many are. Keeping a gratitude journal helps them have a positive attitude and to have a relationship with God. I just thank God every day for all my many blessings and this time of the year I praise him for the glorious nature that surrounds me. My garden, the baby birds in our tree, the rainbow and the beautiful moon this week have all filled me with gratitude. One of my gifts is the ability to appreciate God’s glory!

Summer Solstice comes with warnings!

The longest day of the year is a day to be wary of evil spirits!

The seasons have always been dictated by plantings and harvests. Bonfires were built to boost the sun’s energy and to ward off any demonic spirits. Flowers and herbs were worn to ward off evil spirits and St. John’s Wort is thought to be very powerful. The name of the herb is attributed to John the Baptist whose birthday is celebrated around the summer solstice.

When Christianity spread through northern Europe, pagan customs and Christians beliefs were combined. This affected the Celtic Calendar. There are four quarter days for the four seasons, but the Celts had four Cross-Quarter days that are in the middle of the season. For example, February 1 was considered the first day of spring (not March 21) and Christians called this day Candlemas. I wrote about Candlemas in a previous post.

Lady Day was March 25 (spring equinox) and was the day for hiring men to plant. The church called this the Feast of Angel Gabriel in celebrating Gabriel’s visit to Mary and announcing she’d be the mother of the long awaited messiah.

The summer solstice (Midsummer Day) marks the midpoint of the growing season. Bonfires are still lit today in some communities to ward off evil spirits while St. John’s Day is celebrated with festivals and prayer. The importance of having a good crop to harvest has not changed. It was also a time for weddings. Couples met on May 1 which was celebrated because it was halfway between the spring and summer solstice. They then married on Midsummer Day. The couple had six weeks to get to know each other!

August 1 is the halfway point between the summer and fall equinox and was called Loaf Mass because it celebrated the harvest of wheat. Farmers took the first loaf of bread to be blessed by the priest and then broke the loaf into four pieces. The pieces were placed in the four corners of the barn to protect the wheat that was stored there. Festivals continue to be held to this day.

The fall equinox is known as Michaelmas and it is the beginning of harvest. The angel Michael is celebrated and festivals are held. It also was the time for elections because it was a time when people gathered.

October 31 was Samhain and many believe this was the Celtic new year, but I also read many believe February 1 was their new year. Meat was slaughtered at this time for their winter supply and of course bonfires were lit to ward off evil spirits. Fortune tellers predicted what the new year would hold for the people.

The year ends with Christmas and the winter solstice. Since today is hot and humid, I’m thinking the cold of December sounds pretty nice. I hope you enjoyed learning about the Cross-Quarter Days.

The Wort Family!

Like any family, the members are quite different.

The word wort comes from the English word wyrt which means plant, herb or root. The opposite of wort is weed. Names were given to the plants because it was believed the plant would help a particular part of the body. That has been proven incorrect because many plants actually have toxic properties.

Spiderwort is the only plant blooming in the picture. It has a cluster of flowers and like a lily the flower only blooms for one day. If you have broken the stem of a spiderwort you know how sticky the sap is. It was used to treat insect bites and I can understand that usage. The stems and leaves have both been compared to spider legs. I like the plant because it does well in both sun and shade and it blooms most of the summer.

Lung wort has a leaf with white dots and in the spring it has beautiful pink and purple flowers. It likes the shade and it blooms for four to six weeks. Another plus for this plant is the deer don’t like it. It is one of the wort plants that is toxic.

Barrenwort (epimedium) is the one with the heart shaped leaves. It produces yellow flowers in late spring. It has many other names and is considered an herb by some. Apparently it has a pleasant taste and can be used as an aphrodisiac. I’ll pass. It was a lovely addition to my garden this year and it likes the shade and is deer resistant.

The fern looking plant is a master wort which is a very large category. I could not find mine online, but that was what it was labeled when I bought it. It blooms in June if the deer don’t eat the white flowers. It likes the shade and the flower reminds me of Queen Anne’s Lace. I was a day late in trying to get a picture. Those deer!

If you are a gardener, I highly recommend the wort plants. They offer long lasting beauty in the garden.

We Remember

A day to honor those who lost their lives for America and remembering loved ones.

The first Decoration Day was held in Arlington Cemetery in 1868. President Ulysses S. Grant officiated. It was held to honor and remember the 620,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War. Decoration Day became known as Memorial Day and was celebrated by states before it became a federal holiday. New York was the first state in 1873 and Waterloo, New York was named the birthplace of Memorial Day because the citizens placed flowers and flags on soldiers’ graves.

It is interesting to note that women laid flowers on soldiers’ graves in Columbus, Mississippi, in April,1866, to honor those who had died in the hospital from wounds and disease. Research showed prior to that year in 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina, former slaves and missionaries gave the 257 Union prisoners a proper burial. These graves were placed in rows and a ten foot fence was built around it. The sign read “Martyrs of the Race Course.” Ordinary people did extraordinary things to honor those lost in war.

In 2005, Jeff Miller and Earl Morse formed the Honor Flight Network to honor those who served in the military. Honor Flights take veterans to Washington DC to visit the nations’ memorials. It began with WWII veterans and now Vietnam veterans are the primary recipients. Today there are 128 hubs throughout America and approximately 22,000 veterans make the trip each year.

As a little girl, I remember watching the soldiers march down the street behind the band. My mother picked flowers (mainly peonies) and we went to the cemetery to put flowers on relatives’ graves. We honored veterans and remembered loved ones.

This week 19 children and two teachers were killed by a disturbed young man in Texas. The shortest verse in the Bible is Jesus wept, and I believe Jesus cried with us as we wept. On this Memorial Day we pray for the families of those who mourn their loved ones, whether they were lost many years ago or as recently as this week. I pray that God will bring comfort and strength to all who have lost loved ones.

Granny Witch to Role Model!

Mother’s day has been celebrated in America since 1914.

Every time I smell fried chicken I think of my grandmother. She was a hard working farmer’s wife who cooked a huge noon meal every day for my grandfather and uncles who worked the farm. Endless chores filled her day and I believe my work ethic was influenced by her. “Take time to do it right. If it’s worth doing, do it right. Finish one job before starting another.” These are all sayings I grew up hearing.

A friend of ours asked his university freshmen students who their role model was growing up. He said that 20% of the students said their grandmother and that was followed by a parent or a teacher. That led me to doing a little research on grandmas.

I had never heard of Granny Witches, but am familiar with herbal medicine. Appalachian grandmas became known as Granny Witches because they used plants, prayer, and wisdom in treating people. German, Scottish and Irish traditions for healing came to America with the first settlers and they learned more about plants from the Native Americans. This knowledge was needed since doctors were scarce. Religion came with the settlers and Bibles were regularly read and church was attended. Superstitions about the grannies’ abilities were not erased by attending church. Grannies believed in prayer and superstitions.

A part of a girl’s education was identifying plants. Women passed their knowledge from one generation to the next and were able to find water with a forked stick, treat ailments with herbs and deliver babies. Grannies quoted scripture, read tea leaves, and gave advice. The importance of the Granny Witches in the communities can’t be emphasized enough.

Today many grandmas receive gifts and cards. I recently taught my 13 year old granddaughter how to make a lemon meringue pie. She appreciated the help, but she gave me a gift by asking me to teach her.

Happy Mother’s Day!

May Celebrations and Beauty

Lilacs are one of May’s flowers and irises, peonies, and poppies will soon follow.

The month of May announces that summer is on its way. The flowers are glorious and proud as they blow in the warm breezes. However, I need to show what my last April surprise was.

Deer ate all the tulips in my front yard. There were almost 150. This is the first year they enjoyed a tulip buffet. I’m used to them eating my lilies but this was a shock.

These tulips are in the back of the house and were not bothered. Deer did leave me their calling card of poop though.

May Day was yesterday so April surprises are now in the past. I remember delivering May baskets of flowers to neighbors as a little girl and even dancing around a maypole one year. The maypole was a tradition in both England and Germany. The ancient Romans celebrated the flower goddess Flora and the goddess Maia on May 1. I can’t imagine keeping track of all these different gods and goddesses and all the celebrations. This was a fertility celebration for crops and people.

The Puritans did not approve the dancing and drinking that occurred on May Day and we can assume what else occurred, so Parliament banned maypoles in 1644. It didn’t take long for the new king, Charles II, to restore the tradition. Since this was a fertility celebration, many soon changed the tradition of young men and women dancing around the maypole to having children dance instead. I wonder if that solved the problem.

Wishing you all a happy May and I hope you are blessed with blooming flowers. And…a little dancing is good for the body and the soul!