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!

Versatile Vinegar!

Vinegar is amazing!

There aren’t many things we clean with and use in cooking, but vinegar is one and most likely the most popular. I love researching common things and vinegar is truly amazing.

The word vinegar means sour wine and was once known as the poor man’s wine. It has been found in ancient Egyptian urns and is mentioned in Babylonian scrolls that date back to 5000 B.C. The Roman soldiers were known to carry vinegar and the Bible even tells of a soldier offering Jesus vinegar.

I was surprised to learn all the things vinegar can be made from. The most unusual item was dates. White vinegar is made from grains and is the most popular. I used it last week to kill moss on the patio. I couldn’t believe how quickly it worked! The recipe was 4 cups vinegar, 1/4 cup salt, 2 tsp. dish detergent. It worked better than a product I bought last year.

I cook with apple cider vinegar. It is a great meat tenderizer and brings a nice tang to sauces. Balsamic vinegar is sweetest of all vinegar and makes a nice glaze to serve over chicken. It is made from grapes and aged in oak barrels. Like wine and olive oil it varies in price. The most expensive balsamic vinegar has been aged the longest. I just checked the price for a bottle that had been aged 25 years and it cost $179.99. That was a shock!

I am a fan of vinegar for it’s incredible versatility. I know that some people are drinking it as a way to lose weight. I don’t know if that works, but if it does, chalk that up to another attribute of vinegar!

Hippity Hop!

The Easter Bunny Keeps on Hopping!

The egg delivering Easter bunny has been active in the United States since the 1700s. It is believed that German immigrants brought the tradition with them. They called the bunny Osterhase. Children made little nests for the rabbit to lay colored eggs in. It sounds a little crazy, but we have carried on the tradition for centuries. Of course the tradition evolved to Easter baskets and of course egg hunts. My personal favorite is the egg hunt.

I found it interesting that there are other animals that bring eggs besides the bunny. In Switzerland it is the cuckoo. That makes more sense than a rabbit. I also read about an Easter witch in Switzerland who brought chocolate to the children. Witches are scary, but if they bring chocolate they must be okay!

Easter is the most important religious holiday for Christians. Without Jesus’s resurrection, the religion most likely would not have formed. The Easter lily represents that Jesus has risen. It is one of the fragrant spring flowers that bring us reassurance that the winter has ended. Jesus assured us that another kind of darkness had ended. May all of you find joy in Easter wherever you are today, because Jesus is always with us!

The Praying Mantis!

The Praying Mantis is not calm!

When I was a child, I thought the praying mantis was the pastor for insects. I actually pictured one holding a service. So many insects buzz, they would have created beautiful songs. As an adult, I think it looks like Ichabod Crane! Notice the skinny neck and bulging eyes, see what I mean?

I read that the praying mantis represents calm and meditation. Why? It’s a vicious little insect. It has a voracious appetite and eats just about anything. I made the mistake of watching one catch a hummingbird on youtube. I saw the catch, and then I stopped watching.

The female praying mantis eat the male’s heads after mating and one scientist observed this during mating. Talk about a crazed lover! They are said to be related to cockroaches and termites which are both insects that cause trouble, so I guess it’s in the gene pool!

In some cultures seeing a praying mantis is good luck. This one was on my hosta plant last summer, and I thought it was cool. Now, I’m a little disgusted by it knowing that they actually kill hummingbirds!

Peaceful Place to Reflect

Reading in Solitude

There have been times in my life where I wished I could just escape and become a monk. A monastery where talking was forbidden sounded like a true vacation. Since that was not an option, I turned to books.

I read uplifting books for the most part. My husband calls them Hallmark books. They probably would fit in that category, however, the library calls them inspirational. My little reading angel always reminds me to calm down and find a good book. If there was ever a time people needed to escape to a place of laughter and inspiration it is now. Books provide that.

My Kindle has allowed me to get books from the library which of course is closed. That has been a true gift! I admit I’m old school and like browsing the book shelves of the library, but this works great.

The warm spring days we had brought everyone relief. It’s tough being inside. I don’t have much interest in watching TV. I wonder why we have so many stations when there’s nothing I want to watch. Thank goodness for books! I now have the quiet of a monastery when I read and it’s good. Life will return with its hustle and bustle, but for now, I read, cook , and garden. It’s not all bad.

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah!

There’s a Bluebird!

I loved Uncle Remus and I sang along with him when he sang Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, there’s a bluebird on my shoulder. Of course we didn’t have any bluebirds, so it was just part of a magical world in my mind. We had blue jays and that was close enough for me. Just for the record, blue jays aren’t as sweet as bluebirds. They used to dive bomb our cat!

I now have bluebirds coming to my feeder and it makes me so happy. The robins also like meal worms. There is one robin who is particularly big who is probably eating much more than his share, but I don’t have the ability to give him the “We need to share” talk.

Being able to go outside makes being restricted to my home bearable. The rain is complicating things, but I’m still getting outside. I’ve pruned and weeded and am eager to do more. We have a couple cardinals that must live close by and they have been singing their hearts out. What a blessing!

Nature continues to provide me with joy and peace. I am so thankful to have a yard. I know there are many who are not as fortunate. For me, nature is the best medicine in avoiding depression. I pray that my readers may find some relief from this time of anxiety by enjoying nature’s gifts. Just opening a window and breathing in fresh air helps. You can also watch Uncle Remus sing Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah on You Tube for a shot of sunshine! I still love hearing him sing that song!