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.

Where do you find God?

I find God in nature.

I find God in nature and it’s a good thing because I can’t find him in church. As a little girl I would sing the songs I had learned in church while swinging. My mom said I was paving my way to heaven and entertaining the neighbors! I still remember thinking if my feet weren’t on the ground, then I could touch heaven.

Today I can go to a restaurant (indoors) and sit at a table that is six feet away from others and dine with up to ten people. On June 1, I can attend a wedding reception of up to 300 people, sit at a table six feet away from others and dine with ten people. However, I can’t go to a church service on Sunday. Maybe if we had tables instead of pews it would be approved?

I know pastors feel responsible for their flock, but if I can go to a restaurant without a mask, I certainly can sit in church with a mask and not be six feet apart! Perhaps three feet? Live streaming church services just isn’t the same.

If Satan exists, he must really be enjoying this. Houses of worships with so many restrictions I wonder if anyone will come when the doors open. I know that Satan is described as the Deceiver, and I’m beginning to feel deceived. My garden is a lovely place to worship and it will continue to be my house of worship.

May Memory

Eighth Grade Project!

May used to mean my eighth graders would present their Eighth Grade Project to the class and their parents. I loved doing this, and most of them did too. The hardest part of the project was deciding what to research. The instructions were to research something they were interested in, and I learned there wasn’t much. After the first two years I eliminated sports as a possible topic and changed the instructions to something they didn’t already know about, and would like to learn about. This made it tougher.

Students had to write a paper, teach the class for five minutes, and have two visual aids. This sounds challenging, but they were ready and did well. We heard about historical events, artists, professions, and a lot about food. Once they learned they could bring food in, it became a popular topic. I particularly remember the dishes a Somalian student prepared. The girl’s mother was there and was so proud! I don’t remember any of the names of the dishes but there was ground beef, vegetables, and sweets made with honey. Another favorite topic was ice cream. I will do a blog on ice cream because the history is interesting.

I have fond memories of those wonderful presentations but not about the snake. The student researched boa constrictors, and to my surprise her father brought in the snake for her presentation. That became another topic for elimination!

Vaccine needed!

First successful smallpox vaccine was in 1796.

An observant English doctor, Edward Jenner, noticed that the young girls who milked the cows did not get smallpox if they had previously had cowpox. That led him to using the live cowpox virus to inoculate against smallpox. That was used until the 19th century when a modern vaccine was found. A global campaign against smallpox lasted from 1958 to 1977. Smallpox has now been eradicated, but the scars on many of our arms still exist. I remember my mother had a huge scar, but mine has almost disappeared.

Smallpox existed for centuries. I read that during the Ming Dynasty in China (1567-1572) scabs from the smallpox were dried and ground into power. People would then inhale the powder and develop a mild case of smallpox. Sounds gross, but apparently it worked. The 1700s brought a new type of inoculation or variolation. That is a new word for me! Pus from a smallpox patient was placed in a healthy person where an incision had been made. It was then wrapped for eight days. The person being inoculated would get a mild case of smallpox. It didn’t always work, and some got very sick and died.

I barely remember my smallpox vaccine, but I do remember my polio vaccine. I was in elementary school and all children were lined up and we received our shots. Later oral polio vaccine was given, but is no longer given in the United States.

Today scientists are working on a coronavirus vaccine. I join everyone in praying for this. When (not if) we get one, I wonder how many people will get it? Less than half of Americans get a flu shot each year.

First Mother’s Day held in 1908!

A daughter’s tribute became a national observance.

Anna Jarvis felt that mothers should have one day where they were honored. She felt passionate about this after watching her mother serve others. Her mother, Ann, was a pacifist who cared for both Confederate and Yankee soldiers during the war. After that she created mother’s clubs to address public health issues. She sounds like a remarkable woman who must have been an inspiration to many. The states observed Mother’s Day before it became a national holiday as a result of Anna Jarvis’s efforts. West Virginia was the first, and is proud to have the International Mother’s Day Shrine. I never knew there was such a thing! In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made it an official holiday. Congress had rejected the idea in 1908.

I have many memories of Mother’s Day with my mother and grandmother. Now I’m a mother and grandmother! My mother drove me crazy at times, and I’m sure I have done the same to my children, but isn’t that part of the fun? I always said I wasn’t going to be like my mother, but of course I found myself doing many things and saying things that she did. I guess it can’t be helped.

Hallmark got into the holiday by 1920 and it made Anna Jarvis angry. She said it wasn’t a holiday for companies to make money and she protested against candy and card makers. Really? I for one love to receive cards and chocolate. My favorite gift is flowers as my family knows.

I hope all you mothers are enjoying your day and are hearing from your children. Anna Jarvis never married nor had children. If she did, I wonder if she would have appreciated a Mother’s Day card. She died in 1948.

Laughter is the Best Medicine!

Laughing burns calories and relieves stress!

Rudolph had a bad case of fleas in our Christmas show last year and his agent Saulie was frantic trying to find a cure. She had lined up several appearances for him. Rudolph was very tall as you can see, and every time he scratched people laughed. He and Saulie brought the house down as the expression goes! I wish people had this to watch again and again.

I’ve written the Christmas show the last four years at my church and my goal has been to write a lot of humor for the show. I want the laughs for many reasons. It relieves stress and Christmas is a stressful time. Laughter boosts our immune system, decreases pain and adds joy to our lives. We need all of that all year round.

I’m working on the show for this year and I keep looking back to what I’ve done in the past. Frosty didn’t want to dance and play with the children because the Buckeyes were on TV. Rudolph’s nose turned brown as a result of a nose spray product he was promoting in a commercial. And then there was Helga the witch who complained to Santa about Rudolph stealing apples from her tree. Just remembering makes me smile!

Laugh, smile, and chuckle are all good words that express happiness. I hope reading this might bring a smile or a happy memory from Christmas. I know remembering has put a smile on my face.

Lungwort, not just a pretty plant!

Lung shaped leaves?

I don’t see it, but apparently people in the Middle Ages thought lungwort leaves looked like a lung. Under the Doctrine of Signatures, medicinal uses of plants were determined by their appearances. What is interesting is that Native Americans did the same thing and they were on a different continent!

I have enjoyed lungwort in my garden for years. It likes shade and has a long blooming time. I suspected the name meant it was used in the past to treat lung problems. I was surprised to learn it is still used. One can buy 4 ounces of lungwort extract for $35.00 to treat a variety of ailments.

The extract is used in tea to treat not only lung problems but diarrhea and hemorrhoids. I think hemorrhoid suffers would prefer using a cream. Poultices can also be made from the plant to treat burns, reduce swelling, and to treat an enlarged thyroid. Talk about being versatile!

I love my plants and a perfect day includes working outside. I find herbal medicine fascinating, and I know many women were accused of witchcraft for using these amazing concoctions. For me, I just want to enjoy their beauty.

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!