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.

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!

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)

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?

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.

Dr. Seuss, Oh No!

Dr. Seuss was a racist?

I love Dr. Seuss books and used them in teaching. Every year I taught a unit on discrimination, and I read The Sneetches to my students. It’s a story about the Star Belly Sneetches and the Plain Belly Sneetches. Each thought they were the best ones on the beaches. In the end, they learned a Sneetch is a Sneetch and stars on bellies don’t matter.

Ted Geisel was born in 1904 and died in 1991. He went to Dartmouth College and is said to have written racist books. A man who wrote the Sneetches could not have been a racist. Knowing the time period he lived in, racism was common and if he did write racists books while in college, he changed. Education and life experiences can correct one’s faulty thinking of his youth.

He also wrote The Lorax which is an environmental book. I loaned my copy to the science teacher who read it to her students. The Sneetches and The Lorax both added to our students’ education in a fun way that they remembered.

I was privileged to sit on my local school board years ago, and I remember parents wanting certain books banned. As a teacher, I had a parent that wanted not only his child not to read a book, but to prevent all the students from reading it. I am against banning books. People should be free to decide for themselves if a book is appropriate for themselves or their family. By the way, my student was allowed to read something else. No problem, that was standard policy.

Dr. Martin Luther King wrote in his I Have A Dream speech that he dreamed of people being judged by the content of their character. I think The Sneetches clearly show Ted Geisel’s character.

Candlemas is Feb.2

Groundhog Day is February 2, but why?

Groundhog Day falls midway between the winter and spring solstice. People eager for spring to arrive wanted to know just how long they had to wait for warm temperatures. Like many of our American traditions, it was the German settlers who brought the idea of watching an animal on February 2 to determine if the animal saw its shadow. A sunny day was certain to mean there would be six more weeks of winter.

February 2 was known to ancient people as Candlemas. This was the day that the clergy blessed candles and gave them to the people to see them through the winter. The custom was to set the candles in the windows of one’s homes on this day.

For some reason Germans took to watching badgers on this day in an attempt to make a weather prediction. After all, animals should know, right? When the German settlers came to America, they decided on the native groundhog to watch.

Groundhog Day was first officially celebrated on February 2, 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Germans settled in this area during the 18th century. I can’t help but wonder how long it takes a child to learn how to spell the name of the town they live in. Thank goodness for spell check!

Canada’s famous groundhog is named Wiarton Willie and lives in Bruce County, Ontario. He doesn’t look like the groundhogs we see eating along the side of the road, he is all white. He does predict like the various groundhogs around the U.S.

It’s amazing how blessing candles led to watching a groundhog on February 2. I never knew about Candlemas until I did a little research. I like the idea of candle blessing. That would make a dark winter’s night brighter.

Thankful for Toilet Paper!

TP is used every day, and is appreciated!

Once again people seem to be gathering toilet paper rolls from the stores’ shelves. I guess it’s part of the fall harvest! I found very few rolls last week at my local Kroger.

When traveling in Europe, I saw the communal latrines the ancient Greeks and Romans used. The wealthy had toilets in their homes, but when in need they used the public latrines and were frequently treated to music as they relieved themselves. Good times, right? Sponges attached to sticks were used to clean one’s bottom and then the sponge was cleaned in salt water. These cleaning sticks were shared.

It is widely known that the Sears catalogue was used in outhouses throughout America as toilet tissue. I know my relatives did. Toilet paper was invented in 1857 by Joseph Gayetty but was expensive. It was made from hemp and treated with aloe. It cost 50 cents for 500 sheets. That would be $10 today. Gayetty was so proud of his invention he put his name on each sheet. The ancient Romans put their enemy’s name on pieces of pottery and then wiped themselves. People do interesting things, don’t they? I just love history!

Leaves, moss, and soft plants were also used to clean one’s bum and there is a list of the most desirable plants to use when in the woods. Lambs ear is a popular plant and the cowboy’s favorite was mullein. It has many other names such as flannel leaf, velvet dock and bunny’s ear. If you find yourself in the woods and need a tissue, just look for a soft plant! They have been used for centuries.

At Thanksgiving, I doubt if anyone mentions toilet paper as something he or she is thankful for, but I know people are. There are so many little things that we take for granted that have now been noticed. Toilet paper comes to the forefront. I’m glad I found some last week!

My Ladder to Success!

Ladders are used every day and have been for thousands of years!

A painting of men on a ladder was found in a Spanish cave that is believed to be 10,000 years old. The men were collecting honey from a bee’s nest. Ancient ladders were made from vines and later rope. As you can see, mine is an old wooden one, but it allows me to paint and decorate outside for Christmas. (It’s become a little wobbly and should be replaced.)

A smart young man named John Balsley decided to put hinges on a ladder so it would fold in 1862. He lived in Dayton, Ohio. (He was a Buckeye but not a nut!) Today people talk about climbing the corporate ladder which Balsley would not have understood, but he would have known the Bible story of Jacob’s Ladder.

I now know why walking under a ladder is believed to be bad luck. In medieval times, it was believed a person would upset the holy trinity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) if he/she entered the triangle that had been created by the ladder leaning against a wall. This was the same belief the Egyptians had about the sacred symbol of the godly triangle. Another belief was since ladders were used to hang a person on the gallows, the triangle formed by the leaning ladder would trap the ghost of the person who had been hanged. No one wanted to encounter a ghost or offend God!

When students would say, “I don’t know what to write about,” I would suggest researching an ordinary object. Not many took me up on the suggestion, but see how interesting an ordinary ladder is?