Beautiful Witches’ Balls!

Witches’ balls are objects of art and they are protectors.

I have five witches’ balls hanging in the corner of my family room. So, I guess it’s the safest place in the house, since they protect us from evil spirits. I think of them as beautiful pieces of art.

During the 1600’s and 1700’s they were very popular in England and in New England. Witches were well known to cast spells on people and this provided protection. But if witches were evil, why did people go to them for readings? The glass balls were used to tell fortunes too.

The more practical use of these balls was to hold fishing nets. Since the witches balls floated in the sea, it was decided that a woman who floated must be a witch. This was one of the tests given accused witches. She was then hanged or burned to death.

Fear of witches and evil spirits were common, so witches balls were needed. Remember that people wore masks on All Hallows Eve to protect them from evil spirits. We are wearing masks today to protect us from the coronavirus. Maybe witches balls would work on that too?

It Looks Like a Hummingbird!

The Hummingbird Hawk Moth fools people!

The Hummingbird Hawk Moth visits my flowers every summer. It’s said to be a good omen. In fact, a swarm of them were seen crossing the English Channel on DD Day in 1944. People believed this was a sign that the allied troops would win the battle.

This large moth measures two inches which is the same size as the world’s smallest hummingbird the Bee Hummingbird. The Bee Hummingbird is native to Cuba and has a beak, is born from an egg and looks like a bird. The moth hummingbird goes through larvae stage, caterpillar, and then emerges as a moth.

I can always hear the Hummingbird Hawk Moth buzzing. It beats its wings 70 to 80 times a second, so it makes its presence known. It doesn’t have a beak, but it has a long proboscis that it uses to get nectar from the flowers. I think it’s cute, but my daughter thinks it is just creepy.

The hummingbird moths are seen all over the world, but hummingbirds are only found in the Western Hemisphere. We are so lucky! There are 340 species of hummingbirds and there are 160,000 species of moths. The United States has 11,00 moth species of moths, and I’m glad the Hummingbird Hawk Moth is one.

Christianity Under Attack!

Another church was destroyed this week.

I couldn’t find the number of churches that have been destroyed by fire or vandalized this year, but each week I read about another one. This past week a church in Mississippi was burned and a statute of Jesus was beheaded in Florida. Two weeks ago Bibles were burned in Portland. I never thought this would happen in America where we proudly claim to have freedom of religion. I admit I have seen signs of Christianity being dismissed over the years.

When I was teaching, it became popular for our Hispanic students to wear crucifixes. Someone had made them, and they were quite beautiful. One day I commented on one that my student was wearing. He told me he and others had been told they couldn’t wear them in Ms.__’s room. My response was, “That can’t be. It’s not in the dress code, and we do have freedom of religion.” At that point three others joined in and told me he was right. I knew this teacher was an atheist, because she had made it known, but I never thought she’d do this. I was wrong.

While teaching, I saw teachers tell students to leave their Bibles at home when they were found reading them at the lunch table. We had several Apostolic students and this was not uncommon. They stopped bringing them. When I told a group of teachers that I was amazed that an eighth grader asked why we celebrate Christmas, I was told by Ms.__ that I shouldn’t even be discussing Christmas. By the way, this was a student who celebrated Christmas but just didn’t know why.

I never heard of any of our Muslim students being denied or harassed for fasting or going to pray (we provided a quiet place) during Eid Al Adha. Most of my students celebrated the Christian holidays and believed in God, but didn’t go to church or know the Christian faith.

I believe we are one country under God and people of all faiths are welcome. Churches don’t have to be burned, statues destroyed or Bibles burned to have Christians be told not to express their faith.

Batty About Bats!

These little mosquito eaters are welcome to my yard!

Every night at dusk two brown bats come to my back yard for dinner. Bats can eat 1200 insects an hour. My neighbor has a small pond, so I think that is why Bart and Bertha come to dine. Sometimes Sylvester joins them for dinner. Yes, I named the bats. Since they come every night, they deserved to be named.

I’ve learned a lot about bats. Their excrement is called guano and is a great fertilizer. Since it is high in potassium nitrate (salt peter) it was used for gun powder during the Civil War and was used up to WWI. One hundred pounds of guano was needed to make four pounds of salt peter.

Bats are important to over 500 plant species. They pollinate plants and bananas, mangoes, guava and agave depend on them. The tube-lipped bat that bananas rely on have extremely long tongues in order to reach the nectar. Their tongues are one and half times the length of the bat’s body. Amazing!

When Halloween arrives, I will hang my black bats with a lot more appreciation for them. I learned a lot about these furry, flying mammals. Perhaps Bertha and Bart should star in an educational story for children.

Lavender Deters Evil Spirits!

Lavender doesn’t just smell great!

Lavender is a favorite is my garden and it has many uses. Some people use it in baking and make a lavender sugar. When I read about cooking with lavender, I learned that it is dangerous for cats and dogs to eat. My cats don’t seem interested in it, and I just enjoy the look and smell of it.

Lavender is grown throughout Spain and Portugal and is used in celebrating holidays by spreading it on the floors of churches and homes. It is believed to cleanse the area of evil spirits and negativity. Congress might consider spreading a little lavender in order to promote harmony.

Lavender is burned in bonfires on St. John’s Day in Europe which is also called Midsummer’s Day. It is celebrated on June 24 which is John the Baptist’s birthday. Today lavender is burned in homes to cleanse the air and like with the bonfire, it carries prayers to heaven. Smudging sticks can be made with lavender to purify homes. It is said to help bring peaceful sleep when burned in the bedroom.

According to lavender folklore, a woman in childbirth should hold it in order to gain courage and strength. Growing lavender in one’s garden will bring good luck, ward off evil, and attract fairies. Since I have lavender, I invite good fortune and fairies to my garden. I also encourage it to ward off mosquitoes like it is supposed to do! Marigolds are also said to keep mosquitoes away along with allium, lemon grass and lantana. I have three of these plants, and I have mosquitoes.

Lost and Found!

The last egg was found!

We had our Easter egg hunt on Mother’s Day this year because of Covid. I hid 60 eggs and 59 were found. This happens every year and as summer progresses the missing eggs are found. Little chick was in the lilies. She had been filled with two pieces of chocolate. The egg had been opened and the chocolate eaten but the wrappers remained. Some lucky animal had a nice treat.

I love reading the stories of things lost and then found years later. I have a lost and found story that happened several years ago in England after we had visited friends.

My husband and I left northern England and were driving south on our way to spend the night close to Heathrow Airport. We stopped after a couple hours to eat, and to have my wallet lifted from my purse that I didn’t have zipped. This I discovered after another hour on the road. We returned to the rest stop and of course nothing had been turned in, but we did file a police report. I also called home to cancel my charge card. I spent the next three hours going between praying and berating myself for being so careless.

When we arrived at our hotel, I was told I had a phone call. It was from a police department two hours west of where we were. My wallet had been turned in. A woman said she found it on the side of the road. When I asked what was in it I was astonished. My American money was there, my English pounds, and my credit card. NOTHING had been taken. We didn’t have time to retrieve my wallet and they would not send it to us so our English friends handled that for me. Bless them!

The timing of the phone call was amazing and the number I had for the woman who had found my wallet did not exist. I like to think my prayers were answered. I have no way of explaining the timing of the phone call to coincide with our arrival at the hotel. I like to think an angel found my wallet as a result of my endless praying. All I can say is pray works!

Pasta is a Comfort Food

Making noodles is easy and comforting!

My mother made noodles frequently but seldom took the time to let them dry completely. I loved those chewy noodles. My problem in making noodles was getting them thin enough. Fortunately, Kitchen Aid makes a wonderful attachment that rolls the dough thin and then another attachment cuts it uni formally. It’s great! During times of stress, a nice bowl of pasta and a glass of wine are very comforting.

A bowl of 4000 year old noodles was found in China that was made from millet. Noodles have been made from rice, semolina, potato starch and wheat. Many cultures share the love of noodles. Romans used to fry their noodles and cover them with a fish sauce and the Chinese boiled their noodles which were made from ground wheat and water. The Europeans added egg and created egg noodles. The most interesting noodle I read about is the Japanese Shirataki noodle. It is made from the konjac yam also called elephant yam. It didn’t sound very appetizing to me.

There is much discussion on who was first to make noodles. It is believed that the Arabs brought them to Italy, but it appears China was also making them. All the countries who enjoy noodles have their own traditional dishes and I would be willing to try almost all of them.

Years ago I went to Germany as a teacher chaperon and stayed with a family for a week in Dresden. The first meal was spaghetti with tomato sauce. That was a surprise. I don’t know why Spatzle (a German egg noodle) wasn’t served instead. Another surprise was sauerkraut was not served with their bratwursts. In fact, my host was surprised to hear that I ate my brat with kraut. Travel is very enlightening!

I ‘m suggesting if you are feeling a little blue, ( a favorite saying of my grandmother) make some noodles! Egg, flour and a little milk. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes and roll it out. Easy and fun. A bowl of pasta can brighten any day!

Tear Down Statues of Jesus and Mary?

People need to examine history carefully.

A black activist made news saying statues of white Jesus and Mary must come down because they represent white supremacy. It reminded me of the houses of worship being destroyed in Russia and priests being arrested when the Communists took over. Then there was Hitler who hung the Nazi flag in all the churches and arrested all pastors and priests who opposed him. I ask, is this the transformation of America? Do Christians have an evil history that requires our church to be destroyed?

No one can deny that members of the Christian faith used the Bible to support slavery. God has been used as an excuse to do terrible things throughout history. But why not examine the reason slavery ended in America? Christian abolitionists along with members of the Jewish faith ran the underground railroad and freed an estimated 100,000 slaves. They spoke out against slavery, wrote against slavery and campaigned against it. These people were beaten, arrested, and killed for their beliefs and using their first amendment right called freedom of speech.

Christians opposed the expansion of slave states and worked tirelessly to educate people on the evils of slavery. I believe without their relentless push to end slavery the practice of slavery would have continued. Maybe the Civil War would not have even been fought without these faithful people.

Instead of condemning white Christians and telling us we represent white supremacy, why not celebrate the Christians who fought for Civil Rights in America? I choose to look at the shining examples of my faith who worked to end slavery and also walked with Reverend King to change racists laws. As Doctor King said in his I Have a Dream Speech, he wanted his children to live in a nation where people were judged by the content of their character. When examining history, I hope people will not omit the contributions of Christians in the fight for equality.

Lawn Art for Everyone!

I miss the summer arts festivals!

These are two examples of lawn art in my yard. The kitty could use a fresh coat of paint, but he’s still cute. A few pieces placed among the flowers makes the yard fun. They are also good spots to leave clues for the grandkids’ treasure hunts. Of course if the clue mentions a mushroom, they have a problem because there are two in my yard.

I certainly don’t need any more items, but my husband would disagree. I know it’s unusual for the wife to tell the husband no, but that’s how it is. I do love looking and admiring the pieces. So much talent is on display at the art festivals. Pottery, glass, leather, weavings and metal are amazing creations to admire and buy.

The first art festivals were music festivals and they date back to the early 1700s in England. Athens, Greece held the first drama festival in 543 BC. Playwrights and poets competed to have their work performed. Auditoriums were created by cutting into the hillsides and 10,000 to 20,000 people could be seated.

Like most people, I love summer and this one is unlike any I have experienced. There are no outdoor concerts and no arts festivals. When they return next summer, I anticipate large crowds in attendance. I think it’s true that we don’t appreciate something until it’s gone.

An Old Enemy!

Honey bees are awesome until you step on one!

When I was little, people did not treat their lawns. They simply mowed their grass with a push lawn mower. I had three pairs of shoes. School shoes, church shoes, and tennis shoes. Summer meant no shoes. That’s where the trouble lay.

We had clover in our grass and bees love clover. I got this photo at the park which doesn’t use chemicals. Almost every summer I’d step on a bee. We played a lot of badminton and watching out for bees wasn’t on my mind until I stepped on one. I still remember the swelling but the itching was worse.

My uncle was a beekeeper. He and my aunt would put bees on their hands to get stung. This is how they treated their arthritis. One of honey’s attributes is that it reduces inflammation. My aunt substituted sugar with honey in almost all recipes. She was a nutritionist and taught home economics at the local high school. I hated her chocolate syrup but everything else was good.

My mother gave us tea with honey to soothe a sore throat and to quiet a cough. I read one could put honey on a burn for healing because honey has antibacterial property. Honey helps release oxygen from the burn and that is what promotes the healing.

My lawn doesn’t have clover and I have reduced my barefoot time. It was never the honey bees’ fault because they just want pollen. Honey is now one of my favorite words because I use it when speaking to my husband. He is the best honey!