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!

Spiders are Inspiring!

He’s cute, and not real!

It’s Halloween and spiders are a main item in this holiday’s decorations. Why? It is because of their association with witches. During medieval times black cats, rats, and spiders were all considered companions of witches. All live in dark places.

In countries around the world spiders are regarded as mystical because of their almost magical web creations. In some stories the spider is the storyteller and he can be wise or a trickster. Spiders have inspired many, many picture books and at sometime everyone has probably sung the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Once it starts to get cold, the spiders start to come in the house. I’m not afraid of spiders, and when I ‘m gardening I never kill one. However, when they come inside they are squashed. I had a friend who carefully carried one outside. Since I have been bitten by spiders, I wouldn’t even consider doing that. The swelling and intense itching is horrible! I suppose that does fit with Halloween.

Spider cookies, cakes, and costumes are all seen at Halloween. Legend has it if one sees a spider on Halloween it means a departed loved one is watching over you. Since tomorrow is All Saints Day the veil between heaven and earth is believed to be thin so that fits. I hope my deceased loved ones are watching over me and they haven’t forgotten me.

I love the fun of Halloween and all the cute creatures that go with it. I don’t do scary, so cute spiders and bats are welcome. Rats are never welcome! Not ever!

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.

There’s a Mask for Every Occasion!

Not Halloween yet!

I love Halloween, but I’m not a fan of masks. I find them scary. I didn’t even like the Lone Ranger or Zorro because they wore masks. However, I do find them interesting.

The oldest mask that has been found is from 7000 BC, but since masks were made from wood and leather it is believed they date back even farther. Most people know that Halloween came to America with the Irish. The pagan custom of wearing masks to ward off evil spirits came with them. I don’t know about evil spirits, but they certainly scare people.

During the 1918 flu epidemic masks were made from gauze in an attempt to protect people from the deadly flu. It wasn’t very effective. Today people are wearing masks in protection against the coronavirus and people have gotten quite creative with them. If this continues, I have the perfect Halloween material for a mask!

Masks for theater, meditation, funerals, and worship are all reasons to wear a mask. I learned that creating a mask with a large forehead meant wisdom and a mask with the eyes closed represented tranquility. The Romans and the Greeks were the first to wear masks for the theater and their masks were quite elaborate. I wonder if much character development was required when a mask said it all.

All cultures appear to have used masks to connect with an ancestor or the gods. Masks were made to represent ancestors to honor them and to receive a blessing from them. Perhaps insight into a problem? In worship, the masks were worn to honor a god or in fear.

I see masks worn on a daily basis and none are scary. I miss seeing people’s faces. I now see smiles in people’s eyes. I’ll send you all a smile without a mask. They’re the best kind!

White Flowers for those we Loved and Lost

White flowers have many meanings. Purity, innocence, reverence and bereavement.

People are suffering. They are angry, sad and hopeless. I grew up hearing, this too shall pass. Of course my response was, when? The unending reports of coronavirus have worn me out, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Now we have the tragic death of George Floyd. When will it end?

I have been included in a discussion of the latest tragic events and I must say I feel like I’m a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I believe all the deaths and injuries that have resulted from the actions of a police officer (and those who watched) are to be mourned. We all saw what occurred, and we all were outraged. I have been surprised to hear that people don’t feel the loss of a police officer’s life is as tragic as the loss of George Floyd. Why? Aren’t we all created by God and loved the same? Isn’t every life precious in the eyes of God?

I will always remember one episode of Little House on the Prairie. Mrs. Olson, an opinionated woman, was walking with a little blind boy who was African American and an orphan. She told him people wouldn’t want to adopt him because he was black. He questioned what that meant and she tried to explain skin color which of course was lost on a blind child. I remember he said, but I don’t see color. I only see darkness. Why do we continue to see color? People should be just as outraged if George Floyd had been white. Color should not matter.

I was at Ohio State in the 1960’s and experienced the tear gas and the demonstrations. I had hoped that was all behind us. Voices were heard and laws were passed to address inequities, but laws don’t change people’s hearts. I weep for Mr. Floyd and for all the other victims of this terrible unrest. I will continue to pray for our leaders and for all those who have suffered. These white bleeding hearts are my tribute to those lost and loved.

A Chest full of Surprise!

Look what I found in my cedar chest!

I decided it was past time to sort through the things I had in my cedar chest. I have used it to store fabric and sewing needs for many, many years. I found 51 zippers and 65 packages of seam binding and bias tape. Amazing! The only thing I sew any more is costumes for our annual Christmas program at church.

In the bottom of the chest, I found a parasol that was given to me by an elderly neighbor when I was a little girl. I think it was used in the late 1800s. Parasols were made to protect people from the sun. The Latin word for sun is sol. They were used 4000 years ago in Egypt and Asia to protect royalty from the sun. They were made from tree leaves and palms. Eucalyptus was mentioned and I can imagine how wonderful that must have smelled. Later animal skins were used. Not very fragrant!

When the custom spread to Europe, the nobility also adopted the custom of carrying parasols but only for women. The parasol handles became works of art and some held a timepiece. The most interesting one I read about was made with chain mail to protect Queen Victoria. The queen survived seven assassination attempts.

The other surprising thing I found in my cedar chest was a golden dress my mother made for my grandparents’ golden wedding anniversary. All four of the granddaughters wore them. My nine year old granddaughter now has mine and wants to wear it for my sister’s 50th anniversary.

Umbrellas followed the parasols and on a day like today, it might be needed. It is amazing the things one finds in cleaning out a chest, cupboard or desk. My next project is a filing cabinet!

Tulips in Turbans?

Tulips originated in Turkey

The Ottoman sultans wore a tulip in their turbans as a sign of wealth and power. In fact the Persian word tulipan means turban. The tulip became popular in the Netherlands in the 1600’s. In fact, the popularity drove the price so high in that time period that one bulb equaled the price of an expensive Amsterdam home along the canal.

The history of tulips is interesting. One surprising thing was a tulip virus caused the prized pure red tulip to have white in it. This became extremely expensive because it was different and everyone wanted it. You’ll notice in the picture I have red and yellow tulips and then the variegated ones. I have difficulty keeping any pure colors. The purple have stayed pure. That’s because they represent royalty I guess!

The tulip craze was astonishing. Some very wealthy people went broke because of their need to buy more and more tulip bulbs. It is believed that the bubonic plague may have influenced the ending of the craze. I would think so!

There are 3000 varieties of tulips. One woman wrote she has 2000 in her garden. Like the rose, the red tulip is the most popular color and it also represents love. Blue tulips have been the most challenging to cultivate. They still don’t have a pure blue, but are close. They are said to represent tranquility and peace. I am mentally sending you bouquets of tulips in all colors and hope you can all get outside to enjoy them before they are gone!

Crocuses are Blooming!

It’s spring for me when the crocus bloom!

When I researched crocuses, I learned there are 90 species and that one specie produces the spice saffron. It is called the saffron crocus. The three red filaments in the flowers are collected for use. It takes hundreds of crocuses to obtain any usable amount. Of course, there are only three stamens per flower! This crocus is also called the autumn crocus, so it would not herald spring.

I love the little crocus flowers and think how garden fairies might use them. I found a print online called The Crocus Fairies that was first printed in 1944. It is delightful! The crocus shape is a perfect cup for a fairy or a small animal to drink from. If you have time, check it out.

When I found the crocus fairies, I then found fairies for a variety of other flowers. It makes sense. Fairies would know the flowers and appreciate them more than people. However, I really appreciate my flowers!

Today I learned where saffron was produced and why it is so extremely expensive. It made me look at my cute little crocuses with a little more respect. I also learned that people have been harvesting the little red filaments for over 3000 years. Why would someone even think to do this? I find it amazing.

In Like a Lion,Out Like a Lamb!

Roar! It’s almost spring!

This beautiful guy was created for Columbus’s Home and Garden Show. The theme this year was Africa and each landscape company was given a wire animal to make come alive. The Seely Landscape Company were so determined to do this they contacted a taxidermist for eyes in order to obtain the life-like quality. They won best of show for their amazing landscape which included the lion.

The saying In like a lion, out like a lamb is a weather prediction that many of us grew up hearing. This year, March came in like a lamb, sooo we’ll wait to see if we experience a roaring ending. In the past, people believed nature maintained a balance and the month of March is a perfect example. In Ohio, we have both wintry snow and beautiful spring days. My blooming spring flowers always receive a little snow.

We often hear people talk about finding a balance in life. This is usually directed at work and family or work and play. Finding a balance of foods we eat is also a balancing act. Those noodles throw my diet askew. I however wish for imbalance in my life. I desire an imbalance of love and joy! I want an imbalance of sunshine. Those of you who live in Ohio understand this. I don’t care if it’s cold, but I want sun!! I’m happy March is here and my daffodils and tulips are pushing through the soil. I have bluebirds eating at my feeder and today we have sun. I appreciate this imbalance in my life and hope that it continues. I hope March has an imbalance of warm sunny days. I’m done with winter and wearing my winter coat!

Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday?

Last Day to Feast!

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of forty days of fasting for Christians and perhaps for those who want to end a bad habit. The forty days is because Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness praying.

For many it is Mardi Gras which is the French term for Fat Tuesday. It is also Shrove Tuesday. It was customary for early Christians to ask to be forgiven of their sins or shriven on this day. The Pancake Bell would ring, people would confess their sins and then make pancakes in order to use up all the rich ingredients. During lent, people were not to eat eggs, milk, butter, or meat. People around the world will eat pancakes today in keeping with this custom.

It makes me wonder what people did with the eggs they gathered and the milk that the cows produced during that time. Cows have to be milked twice a day, so they probably made butter and cheese and ate it on Sundays along with eggs. Sundays were exempt from fasting because they were (and still are) considered days of joy in celebration of Jesus’s resurrection.

I always give up sweets and seldom make it the forty days. I have chocolate chip cookies to eat tonight! I plan to make it this year. (I always plan to make it!) I will give up the unhealthy sweets and add more prayer time. A time to grow spiritually is the benefit of lent. Hope you all find a benefit in this lenten season.