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.

Where Do You Find Joy?

January is a long, dark month and finding joy keeps the heaviness at bay.

I always wish for snow in January because it brings me joy. I’m not talking about a lot of snow, just a couple inches. When snow is on the ground, the early darkness isn’t so bad and when the moon is shining, the night has a magical quality.

This little angel of joy caught my eye with the rainbows on the wall. I have crystals hanging in the window, and in the late afternoon rainbows cover the walls. It’s impossible to enter the room and not be filled with joy. Of course if I have rainbows, that means the sun is shining. Any day the sun shines is a joyful day.

One of my granddaughters called me yesterday to tell me she had used her birthday money to buy a new doll. Talk about joy! Her joy was contagious and as I listened, I smiled and shared her happiness. Later she sent me a picture of herself with her doll. More joy!

I was able to go to another granddaughter’s basketball game this week and the happiness I felt for being able to go can only be described as joyful. I’m so aware that time goes by so quickly that I want to be a part of her activities as long as I can. Graduation comes quickly. It was a joyful evening.

I wish all of you many moments of joy this month. I know if I bake chocolate chip cookies today for my husband, I will bring him joy. My mother used to say, It’s the little things in life that makes us the happiest. I think she was right.

What a Night!

Mary was chosen.

Mary was a young girl by today’s standards. This was her first child and to have been far from home when she went into labor would have been frightening.

I always thought how sad it was that there was no room in the inn until I had a baby. Now I see the wisdom in being sent to a stable. The inns were crowded which meant they were noisy and probably dirty. Who’d want to have a baby under those conditions? Not me.

Clean straw or hay and fresh air would have been better. Maybe Mary could see the star and concentrate on its beauty as she went through labor. I like to think the innkeeper’s wife was there with water and clean cloths to deliver the baby. I think God would have provided support for her.

I wonder what she thought when shepherds arrived telling her about angels announcing her son’s birth. Had she been surprised or had she just smiled realizing God was spreading the word that his son was born. The long awaited child that Isiah had prophesized was here at last. God was a proud father!

This was a joyous night that Christians all over the world remember. I can’t imagine the responsibility of raising God’s son. Mary clearly loved and trusted God or she would not have been chosen. She is a blessing to all of us who celebrate Jesus’s birth. Thank you, God!

A Snowy Path to…?

Where does this path lead?

A familiar story idea is about following paths. I always liked how Gretel tried to mark the path to her and Hansel’s home with bread crumbs. As they continued their way through the woods they found a house made of gingerbread and covered with candy. As they discovered, looks can be deceiving.

Teachers and parents also like to use paths in discussing which path children should follow when it comes to career, behavior or group of friends to follow. In short, the subject of paths has a lot of material for people to write and talk about.

In my mind, the path is leading to a barn that holds an old sleigh that has been lovingly painted and repaired. A sweet old man, who looks like Santa, lets me pet his horse that pulls the sleigh. I offer to help with chores if he will show me how to drive the sleigh. Mucking out the barn is worth the lesson. My fantasy ends with driving the beautiful red sleigh through the woods.

Christmastime is a magical season of lights and dreams. For me, the snow adds to the feeling that anything is possible. I would love to hear where your paths would lead. Happy imagining!