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.

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!

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.

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.

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!

The Artistic Eye!

Beautiful pieces of art have been created for centuries from a variety of metals.

Once ores were discovered, man began shaping it into useful items like cups, bowls and plates. It didn’t take long for man’s artistic nature to want to make these objects beautiful. Prior to metal, shells, stones, bones and animals skins were used in creating objects of beauty. Even primitive man created jewelry.

I love this bird that was created by drilling three holes into a stone and then attaching the metal parts. The other piece has color and dimension in the metal. I think both show the artist’s creativity and skill.

Long ago people decorated the doors of churches with elegantly created metal hinges and handles. Metal workers were hired to create beautiful chalices, crosses and candlesticks for the church. Wealthy Romans paid for metal art pieces to hang on the walls of their homes in addition to creating decorative cups and candlesticks for their personal use. The wealthy Egyptians adorned themselves with jewelry made from gold and silver. These pieces included precious stones such as lapis and amethyst.

I find it exciting to see metals used with wood, cloth, and stone. It expands the uses and the realm of creativity. Clock makers were experts in combining metal with wood not only in making the clock work, but in making the clock on object of beauty.

Metal art has become popular and is seen in many stores and art festivals. A little research showed that Pablo Picasso was interested in using metal as an art form and experimented with it. Tools for working with metal have made creating unusual pieces easier and has allowed the creative mind to expand. So, once art festivals return, I hope you’ll spend some time admiring the metal pieces of art.

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.

Love, Love, Love!

Valentine’s Day is celebrated throughout the world with a variety of traditions.

As a child I loved Valentine’s Day because of the cards. Today the kids get candy along with the cards, but we just exchanged cards. I can remember looking over each card carefully and deciding who to give each one to. When we exchanged them at school, it was quiet while we read the cards’ special messages. It’s a nice memory. Of course cupcakes and punch are also a part of the nice memory.

In Japan it is customary for women to give chocolate to the men in their lives. The quality of the chocolate determines the quality of the relationship. A co-worker would be given chocolate of lesser quality than chocolate given to a sweetheart.

I grew up hearing the expression, She or he wears his heart on his sleeve. In South Africa, girls literally pin the names of their sweethearts on their sleeve. I read that some men do the same.

I think the people of Finland and Estonia have a wonderful February 14 tradition. They call it Friends Day and remember friends with cards and gifts. We teach our children to remember friends with kindness on Valentine’s Day by the card exchange at school, and adults do remember their friends with a card or small gift on this day.

Today is a special day to tell others you love them. There is a lot of love in the world and we need to remember that. Let us focus on loving each other and being thankful for all the things we love like animals, food, books, flowers, etc. The list is long! Happy Valentine’s Day to all my friends!

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.