Category Archives: ancestors

March to Your Own Drummer

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As a child you may have made wooly lambs and snarling lions to

represent the calm way we wish to exit the month of March and

the wild, windy month we usually start with. I remember using

a large paper plate and cutting out eyes and gluing cotton balls

all over the plate for a lamb. I also remember having made a form

for my preschool students, the shape of a lamb out of brown or

tan construction paper. They loved using the glue and adding the

cotton balls that ultimately got stuck to their fingers, clothes and

everywhere except where they ‘belonged.’

Making lambs and lions with children, as an artistic endeavor,

spurs my desire to share Vincent Van Gogh’s thought:

“Great things do not just happen by impulse but as a succession

of small things linked together.”

Did you know Vincent Van Gogh lived a short and productive

life of only 37 years? He shared and created beauty through his

post- Impressionistic paintbrush strokes. You may wish to check

out this trio of sweet Spring flowering paintings. Van Gogh did

these in his final three years of his short life.

1.  “Cherry Tree,” (1888).

2.  “View of Arles, Flowering Orchards, (1889).

3.  “Almond Blossoms, (1890).

Hope this may inspire you to dabble with paint, chalk, crayons

or start a craft project.

Let’s hope the month starts as a roaring Lion and leaves as a

peaceful Lamb.

Here is a word from Thomas Kinkade, (2001):

“Prayer or simple meditation will nurture your spiritual connection

vital to evolving a focus that is truly personal and intrinsic to

your life.”

MARCH

Gemstone: Aquamarine

Flower: Jonquils

March 1st-

Sunday of Orthodoxy.

There is a complicated explanation about the meaning of this Sunday.

It meant that there was a movement or change among some faiths,

where icons or representations of various important elements could

be produced. This was in the 700’s, Jesus Christ and Mother Mary,

for examples could be depicted through artwork. This is considered

the first Sunday of Lent, 2015.

2nd-

Texas Independence Day.

Would it qualify for celebrating if I had some chocolate Texas sheet cake?

3rd- Town Meeting Day

Vermont likes to have their town meetings.

4- (Sundown) Purim begins. This lasts two days and ends on March

6th. This Jewish holiday celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish

people into the Persian Empire, saving them from a plot to kill

them. This day is one which includes feasting and rejoicing.

5-

Full Worm Moon-

“Add compost to your soil to invite beneficial earthworms into your

garden.”

(2015’s “Old Farmer’s Almanac.)

To make compost, we used to use the parings of our potatoes, fruits

and vegetables. These days, you consume so much of these, so scraps

of the rinds, stems and inedible parts of your food can be put into a

raised garden. You can till it from time to time, creating a rich place

for worms to thrive.

8- Daylight Savings Time (2:00 a.m.)

“Spring ahead. Fall behind.” This little saying helps me remember

the direction of setting my clocks each Spring and Autumn.

I think many of us will be joyous once the season gets warmer. I

hope this will be a season of renewal and ignite new passions and

interests.

“As we turn the pages of time,

we discover hidden mysteries

and triumphs in each chapter.”

(Flavia, 2003).

9- Commonwealth Day in Canada.

Friday the 13th- 2nd one ‘down,’ only one more to go this year.

This is not a big deal to most, except the superstitious ones.

15- Andrew Jackson Day (Tennessee)

17- Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

“Place stems of fresh white carnations into water with green food

coloring to dye the flowers green.” (2015’s “Old Farmer’s Almanac.”)

Do you pinch people who don’t wear green today?

Did you know the Episcopalians usually wear orange today?

Also, on the 17th- Evacuation Day (Suffolk Co., Mass.)

19- St. Joseph’s Day

“If it’s on St. Joseph’s Day clear,

So follows a fertile year.”

(Country  saying or Folklore)

20- New Moon

Vernal Equinox

Spring Begins.

“The fiddlehead, which looks like the tuning end of a fiddle

is the top of a young ostrich fern, tightly curled and sheathed

in a brown coating.”

2015’s “Old Farmer’s Almanac” uses ferns in March’s report.

29- Palm Sunday

Most palm trees require year-round temperatures above 40 degrees

outdoors.

30- Seward’s Day (Alaska)

Shall we have a slice of Baked Alaska, in your honor?

2015’s “Old Farmer’s Almanac” mentions a plant that is native to

Alaska and Canada,

“Tall Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium acutiflorum) tolerates drought

and creates a ground cover, commonly with blue flowers.”

Words to Live By:

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable

combination.”

~Nelson Mandela

The Smithsonian Backyard series of books came with a

sweet stuffed bird. When I received this gift, my book’s

subject was inevitably about a robin, along with my toy

being a robin.

This book begins with a lovely Spring message and ends

with a helpful glossary of words and description of the

habits of each bird in the series.

“Robin at Hickory Street,” (1995) was written by Dana

Meachen Rau and illustrated by Joel Snyder. Read this

and it will give you a beautiful picture of the changing

of the seasons in nature.

“Winter’s song fills the backyard of the blue stone house

on Hickory Street. A honeysuckle branch taps a beat on

the kitchen window.  Wind whistles through swaying

spruces. Rhythmic drips of melting ice dot the snow.

Soon this chorus will be replaced by Spring’s. The sweet

murmur of honey bees, the rustling of chipmunks behind

the shed and the cheerful melody of a robin who will call

this yard his own.”

The book is 32 pages and in the description of the robin’s

song, it is given as: “Cheerily, cheer-up, cheerio.”

And on that note. . .

“Cheerio!”

Threads

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For those of us who are approaching winter, there are some moments

when we may wish to start a large puzzle, work on a craft or read a

book with deeper meaning. After all, the media ‘invented’ the idea of

Summer Books, which always seem like “Beach Books.” They consist

of fun reads, some adventures or romance but generally not expected

to make it into the Classic books area of the library.

While gathering things, somewhat ‘ahead of time,’ preparing for my

Thanksgiving trip to see my Mom and family up North, I put a box of

old wooden spools of thread into a bag. Or rather ones that used to

have thread on them. I added one of my books from the discards

pile at the May Library Book Sale, in coordination with the Delaware

Arts Festival, thinking that I may get a chance over the four days “on

holiday” to bury my nose in a book. The spools will go to my brother’s

future artistic projects. He utilized another set of these antique

wooden spools in a colorful multi-media project, finishing it with

a shiny paint spattered glaze over it. I love the circular shapes within

the circle of  his shimmering presentation of what I would describe

as the “cosmos.”

 

While talking about thread, I don’t wish to go on too many tangents.

 

Do you remember when we would say, “Nice threads?” Sometimes,

I remember saying this to someone with a tie-dyed shirt or a pretty

patch-worked maxi-skirt. Was it applicable only to certain kinds

of clothes or anyone who we may have thought looked “nice?”

Interesting, since we also use the word “threadbare” clothes, for

those which may be considered ‘raggedy’ or worn out. These are

‘bones of contention’ sometimes, when a spouse may wish to keep

a favorite, softened by time item of clothing. The other spouse

may wish to throw it in the ‘rags’ heap.

 

 

Now that I am getting older, I sometimes have to close one of

my eyes to “thread” a needle. I also recently purchased a package

of needles that remind me of the Large Print Books’ section where

I tend to get some of my ‘reading for pleasure’ books. Rarely do I

find ‘classics’ in this area. I pondered this once, “Do they think

that while I am losing my eyesight, I am becoming ‘dimmer’ in

my brain cells, too?” In this same vein, my “threads” of thoughts

can become quite twisted or knotted up, needing someone to

help unravel them.

 

When a spider creates his web, the intricate woven pattern looks

like snowflakes at times. Sometimes, I think of it as gossamer

“thread” and am amazed at how strong its hold is. Especially,

when in someone’s attic, as it catches in your hair. It is definitely

sticky, which makes sense to catch the bugs or flies for the spider’s

meal.

 

While the use of ‘threading in and out’ is less often used than the

expression of ‘weaving in and out,’ I have heard this used.

 

Can you think of other ways the word, “thread” is used?

 

I especially admire the Native Americans who used almost every

part of an animal, one way or another. Using creatures’ sinew

to sew with a needle created from its bone is surely a testament

of their creative and utilitarian minds. I cannot imagine trying

to poke through the fur or animal hide to create clothes and

jackets. It would have been easier to just throw the fur over their

shoulders like a blanket or poncho. That is how I picture my

way of ‘roughing it.’ The daunting task of creating homes out

of materials from the natural world is incredible to me also.

 

I have 15 different wooden spool brand names with the prices

varying from 15 cents to a quarter. I studied and grouped them,

even noticing the colors or as they are labeled, “shades” can be

over 1000 in their number. The variety intrigued me, as I hope

or felt it may a few of my readers. All of the 15 brands are made

in America. I would be interested if anyone in another country

would tell me where their thread in their sewing basket or junk

drawer was made.

 

When you ‘whet’ someone’s interest in a subject, you don’t

wish to leave them “hanging by a thread,” so here is my list:

1. Clark’s brand.

This is interesting because it was originally on its own, but you will

see a spool with two brands who must have become connected. On

this post, I decided would be presenting what I have, not what I

looked up on the internet. I did not research any of these companies.

Details on the Clark’s wooden spool include, “Cotton” and “O.N.T.”

and the “shade” number of 278 on one of several of these. The “Size

50” is on this brand.

2. “Belding Corticelli” brand.

The words are not together, but circle the spool, some on the

‘top’ and some on the ‘bottom.’

“Bel-waxed”

“Mercerized”

“Cotton”

and the expression, “Fast to Boiling.”

Several of this brand, with the price range given of 15 cents, 19 cents

and 25 cents.

The shades are stamped into the wood, ink pressed to show “1707”

on one, for example. The “Size 50” is also on this brand. All of these

gave the length of “125 yds.” of thread.

3. “Sea Island Thread Mfg. Corp.”

The words, “None Better” are stamped into the wood on one end.

The length on this bigger sized spool is “700 yds.” It is labeled,

“Mercerized Cotton.” (Unlike the other spool where the words

were separated and not contiguous.) This is mentioned to be,

“Made in New York.”

4. “Standard- Coosa-Thatcher Company” is also labeled on

the other end of the spool as “S-C-T”

There is no marking of its shade, color, or length but I am

happy to tell you this was made in “Chattanooga, Tenn.”

5. “Richardson’s .”

“Mercerized Sewing Cotton,”

(Size 50)

100 yards

“Fast to Boiling.”

This singular spool has the word, “Shade 1788,” on it.

6. “Fruit of the Loom.”

40 yds.

(Size 50)

“Mercerized” (no mention of cotton on label.)

“Fast Color”

*Would we today call this ‘color fast?’*

7. “Dandy” brand.

This label is the only one which presents a blend of,

“Cotton and Polyester”

Made in U.S.A. is stamped into the wooden spool’s end.

“Mercerized” is again not connected with the source of

the thread’s ‘material.’

“Boil Fast”

*Doesn’t this fascinate you? How can one expression, “Fast

to Boiling,” be attributed to one kind and then, this shorter

one be given?*

There are two facts about the “Dandy” brand which are not

included on any other of my spools, “Left Twist” and “Two

Cord- 1200 yards.” This is a longer/taller wooden spool.

8. “Ball’s Best” brand.

This was made in South Willington, Connecticut.

“500 yards”

“Cotton”

(24) May be “shade” number?

Gardiner Hall Jr. Company.

“Sole Man’ers”

*(Was this meant to be used on soles of socks or shoes?)*

9. “Coats” brand.

“Super Sheen With Silicone” on a shiny paper circle on top.

125 yds.

“Mercerized”

“Boilfast”

(50)

19 cents.

Shades are “169” “70” and “57-A”

On the bottom of the spool, where there isn’t any shiny label,

stamped into the wood is: “J + P Coats.”

10. “Lily” brand.

“Mercerized.”

50 yds.

Cotton boll symbol on the paper label.

“Boil – Fast”

11. “Radium” brand.

“1 oz.”

“Three Cord”

“Mercerized Cotton”

“Color 1169”

12. “Aunt Lydia’s” brand,

“American Thread Co.”

“Button & Carpet”

“Extra Strong + Smooth”

“Shade 830”

13. “Empeco” brand.

“Mercerized Thread”

“Manufactured by Max Pollack Co. Inc.”

Made in “Mills Groton, CONN”

“700 yards”

Color “518.”

14. “Coats + Clarks”

(At last, we have both companies joined together.)

Time has gone past, since this big spool is labeled

to cost, “39 cents” and has details, such as:

“Dressmaker’s Spool”

“Made in U.S.A”

(50)

Color or shade is “86-B”

15. “Talon” brand.

“Mercerized.”

325 yds.

“29 cents”

“Made in U.S.A.”

“Colorfast” (at last!)*

15. “Star” brand.

“100% Polyester”

40 yds.

“American Thread Co.”

“CONN”

(An area code is given, but is faded. Possibly 06905 or 08905?)

“Will-Boil”

Three different spools have these color numbers:

“484” “553” and “020”

The three have varying length of thread:

“40 yds.” “125 yds.” and “150 yds.”

“Mercerized Cotton”

I enjoy learning about the crafts and hobbies of fellow bloggers.

Do you tend to carry out the same kinds of activities or do you

change them, as the season changes?

This post began with my getting out some things to go visiting;

along with sorting out the spools from my crowded sewing basket.

I accomplished the chore of cleaning up and writing this post about

‘threads’ due to those wooden spools. My little grandchildren used

to play stacking games with them, as if they were uniquely shaped

building blocks. Remembering their tall towers of spools make me

smile. Then, the giggles of when they all came tumbling down.

I imagine children in the past doing this playful use of spools, too.

 

 

 

 

 

“Raise Your Glass” to Hard Cider!

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I have eclectic drinking tastes, which include some of those malt-flavored

drinks that resemble ‘wine coolers,’ from the seventies. I have an occasional

beer, support Fatheads’ micro brews, since they help my brother’s artistry in

their logo-painted walls. I enjoy wine, savoring the layers of flavor, such as

can be found in Lake Erie wineries. I enjoy the reds like Cabernet Sauvignon,

Merlot and Pink Catawba wine made from Catawba grapes. Recently, though,

I have ‘discovered’ the Cincinnati, Ohio company of Boston Beer Co. which

produces the biggest hard cider in the U.S. I think you will recognize, even if

you are not a hard cider drinker, the name of “Angry Orchard.” Business in

the hand-crafted apple cider area of beverages is booming! From 2007 until

last year’s total sales of hand-crafted hard cider, it went from $200 million

dollar business to a tripled amount of $600 million!

The largest areas producing hard cider can be found in New York, Michigan,

Washington and Oregon. Great locations for apple orchards and to create

this hard cider, you need to be close to where they grow. A man named Peter

Moon, used to have a shop in Columbus Easton Town Center called, “Color

Your World.” He has been working on his own personal recipe for hard cider,

seeing great potential in the Central Ohio area.

Historically speaking, we may consider the American apple pie an icon for

our country, but apple cider made into hard cider came over on the Mayflower,

with those Pilgrims. We can find records of barrels of fermented apple juice

packed along with all the other necessities needed to start a community in

America. This makes sense since apples were readily available to farmers and

the Pilgrims needed to ‘brace’ themselves, so to speak, for a whole different

World! This could be considered America’s first ‘drink’ they toasted safe arrival

here…

To go even farther, this article I found discussing apples being fermented into

hard cider, it is totally possible that the signers of the Declaration of Independence

had pewter goblets of this ‘brewed’ cider.

I am happy to soon ‘ditch’ the Angry Orchard brand of hard apple cider for a new

‘brew’ made by Peter Moon who is calling his cidery, “Mad Moon Craft Cider.” You

know my fascination with the moon? This means it is ‘fate’ that I travel southward

and check out this new place he has. I need to try this!

In a recent Columbus Dispatch article, introducing this new company, it mentions there

is a humble organization and simplicity in the Mad Moon company’s headquarters.

There is a sign hanging by the office,

“Cider for the People.”

It is representative of the company’s signature. These 4 words are a ‘take off’ of a Populist

slogan and sentiments from William Henry Harrison’s 1840 Presidential campaign. W. H.

Harrison was known to be a ‘hard-cider-drinking frontiersman.’ (Sept. 12, 2004 Columbus

Dispatch article.)

When Prohibition came along in 1920. hard cider lost its’ place in the people’s popularity

of beverages to imbide in. There was moonshine and illegal brews, but when Prohibition was

repealed, beers were the most popular drink.

Today’s society is always looking for something ‘new’ to discover and try. There are many of

the population trying homemade beer and apple cider brewing, along with winemaking.

They ‘crave’ unique beverages and as hosts and hostesses, offering a variety of choices.

In Columbus, Ohio we have around 13 beer breweries, some hobbyists and home brewers

are now opening ‘cideries.’ It is just a small beginning, the tip of an iceberg of beverages and

there is an ‘open market’ for this here.

Starting at the ground level, Peter Moon, has 750 gallons of apple juice fermenting in three

of Mad Moon Craft Cider’s 10 large tanks. The labels are still in ‘rough draft’ stage of the

business. I liked the bottle’s design in the photograph accompanying the Dispatch’s article.

Apples need to be originally grown from European seeds, what is considered “old seeds.”

They are stronger flavored apples, with savory and distinct ‘tones’ to their taste. Ohio farmers

find them to not be able to resist fungi and diseases. This seems to be a concern and a ‘work

in progress.’ So far, one of the farms that is selling their apples for hard cider has been able

to recommend the strength of ‘gold rush apples.’ I can relate to this search, when I make my

homemade apple crisp I like the softer apples of Rome, Gala and have tried others, too.

In Licking County, (Ohio), there is a hard cider being sold as, “Legend Valley Cider.”

This company has 50 accounts on their ‘books,’ so far. They await the end of the apple growing

year of crops to start their second year of production.

This is a stretch of my imagination, but I think Benjamin Franklin would have been proud of

the return to apple cider fermentation. It is what Early Americans would have respected. Freedom

to consume and continuing in the independent spirit of free enterprise, too.

So,  “Raise Your Glass” to toast the return of hard cider!

(Thanks to Pink, (2010) song, “Raise Your Glass!”)

 

What are you drinking?

If you don’t like alcoholic beverages, do you like apple cider?

I sure do associate apple cider with Fall or Autumn.

Our Identifying ‘Songs’

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A West African tradition that fascinates me, is that when every

woman in their tribe of “Griots” is expecting a baby, they take

time to think and contemplate giving the baby, a ‘song.’ They go

off to meditate and come up with what they feel would be the

specific identifying chant or ‘song’ that will follow the upcoming

baby, throughout his or her life.

Have you ever heard of this tradition? I was so interested in this

and wished to share my source, the May, ’14 “Natural Awakenings”

magazine.  The article’s title is “Live  Your Song: Each of Us

Carries a Unique Inner Tune that Affirms Our True Nature.”

In this article, it explains that each person has a soul, in their

belief system. Each soul has a certain vibration that expresses its

unique and special purpose. It has a ‘flavor’ or ‘essence’ that can

be ‘heard.’

The baby’s birth is greeted by its song, giving it meaning and worth.

The times in the child’s life, where the song plays an important

part are when born, when getting ready to attend school, initiation

into adulthood and the time of marriage. The loving embrace of its

tune and melody is to keep the child feeling valuable and included.

If the child, young adult or grown adult should happen to break the

tribe’s rules or even worse, break a law, the tribe will circle the one

who has fallen away from them, chanting and singing their song.

The hope is that the community’s love will overwhelm the individual

and help them to find their way back to their original path. The final

time the Griot tribe, in West Africa, sings the special song is as family,

friends and the community gather at their bedside, helping them to

pass onto the next world, with the memory of their past life’s song.

I like the idea of a song, that our friends would know and recognize

it as ours. I would hope that we would always feel ‘in tune’ with our

family and friends. When we should ever wander away, move or

change our life’s direction, it would be so comforting to know that

our ‘song’ follows us, wherever we go.

Our ‘song’ would help lead us back home again, knowing the true

love, friendship and sense of belonging is waiting for us.

I had not realized that there are others, scientists and researchers,

who have studied this philosophy and practice of finding one’s ‘song.’

The persons considered “modern pioneers in vibrational energy,”

are Sharry Edwards (bio-acoustic biologist) and Donna Eden (energy

medicine field). They have independently detected that each of us has

a “fundamental signature frequency that can be equated to our unique

song that persists throughout our life.”

Some would say the ocean ‘calls to them,’ others would think that the

railroad train is their sound, with the thumping wheels along the track.

Natural songs can include birds. (That is my ‘song,’ not just because of

my name but the story about my Grandfather’s message sent through

the cardinal’s song).

The two women mentioned, Sharry and Donna, feel we innately seek

certain natural sounds that reinforce and strengthen our song.’

Other examples I read about were the sound of the surf, wind, rain or snow

falling. I could ‘hear,’ or imagine, someone’s ‘song’ in the trees shaking

from the breeze, the shivery feeling of the night sky filled with stars and

the moon. I think that some crave and need the sun’s warmth upon their

skin.

Your ‘song’ can be described as, “cell-to-cell vibrations” within ourselves.

We intuitively feel this these vibrations or rhythms as almost magical.

 

I found this sentence/quotation from the article to be meaningful:

“At one with the universe, our song contributes its part in the infinite

chorus of creation.”

 

(Quotations and research provided by Jill Mattson)

Please share if you feel you have a ‘song’ and let us know what really

‘moves’ you, intuitively.

 

Uplifting Messages for Everyday Lives

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Serving people and volunteering reflect how culture has shown a

history of caring and pulling together in times of adversities

and strife. The valuable message and “roots” come from all faiths

and can be found in various examples.

Spurred on by my recent “Spire” newsletter from the First Presby.

Church, in Delaware, Ohio’s message:

“Mission work that is carried out by churches and other organizations

makes a difference in the lives of people all around the world. One

purpose of mission work is to help those who are hurting in whatever

way is appropriate to their specific situation.”

I could not help reflecting on the different levels of helping others

that I feel I have done and will try to add more to my own sense of

purpose in life. I wondered if I could investigate and find some

history in the United States, of being positive ‘lights’ and doing

good works.

Native Americans have always viewed the concept of helping each

other, as beneficial and calling it a “give away.” The process

is described as choosing a special gift to impart at a helpful

time.

This is a long-respected tradition, honored among most tribes.

The Pacific Northwest and Canadian Indian tribes have something

called a ‘potlatch.’ I found that the Chinook tribe was one who

originated this process, but if someone is more knowledgeable on

this subject, please feel free to ‘pitch in’ and help me explain!

Native American traditions are enduring, meaningful and loving.

There are traditional ceremonies held by other tribes as “Give

Away Ceremonies.” What helped me to understand better why they

do this, is by realizing that Native Americans don’t place a

“value” on individual property or money. They feel that if there

is anything that another person should need or will benefit the

other family, then one should ‘give away’ that item. Not having

personal “ownership” of the land and its creatures is also

included in Native Americans’ belief systems.

Other people consider when they are giving time, money or energy

towards a cause as ways we are “paying forward.” Eastern cultures

include “karma” (or “kharma”) and “kismet” as reasons one may

wish to engage in positive actions. What ‘goes around, comes

around,” does not mean that there is not respect and value in

those caring actions!

Another way we may explain the process of helping one another

could be as “giving back to the world.” You may hear this come

out of famous people or philanthropic projects.

Powerful actions, to positively impact and support one another,

crosses across the world in so many other dimensions. Churches

send out their teams out for rescue and retreats, sometimes

labeling this, “Mission Work.” Serving others helps both the one

who is setting out on a mission, and the ones who are on the

receiving end.

My family’s three children engaged in community church functions

called, ecumenical peace camps and ecumenical youth groups.

It is appropriate to view this subject on a Sunday, but every

day is truly the way you carry out your faith or spiritual

expressions in respect to your God, Allah, Mother Nature, Higher

Being or your own personal inner beliefs. Agnostics and atheists

give with open hearts and hands, through their acts of kindness.

Witnesses to 9/11, Katrina, floods and famine relief, Red Cross

and other ways that people are constantly reaching out and going

beyond their everyday actions (and comfort zones) are so inspiring!

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that

no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

John Mc Mullin, who writes for a ‘healthy and better life’ local

magazine and other noteworthy journalism endeavors, tweeted:

“I can accept my wheels coming off the tracks as long as I trust

parts of my self know how to put my wheels back on the track.”

Another tweet by John:

“When the anguish and pain of what we think we know becomes

overwhelming, only then are we willing to explore what we don’t

know.”

I enjoy so many blogs with their famous quotations and photos,

I also revel in poetry. This local woman, Jennifer R. Harbor

shared this poem, (purposely written in lower case letters…):

“i am

not this Body

not these thoughts that consume me,

not these feelings that find me,

not these beliefs that drive me,

i am

not this used flesh scarred by existence,

i am

infinite spirit, limitless energy, borderless space,

i am the light of ancient stars

i am eternity expanding,

i am

not this Body

i am

radiant Light, living only to

Transcend this vessel

of eyelashes, fingers, lips, toes…”

JRH, 2007.

Abundant Gifts

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This title suits the enormous pile of gifts that

I received, along with the tremendous feelings of

love and admiration for my family’s varied gifts.

We are definitely blessed with a wonderful family

and hope that you had many moments where tears

were close to springing forth, for either your

‘laughing till the tears came’ or because you feel

this also, about your family being so meaningful.

You want to be like Norman Rockwell, but sometimes

your family is like the one in “Christmas Vacation.”

Much of the joy flowing at my brother, Rich, and

sister in law, Susan’s house was due to the one and

only grandchild present when Mom, youngest daughter,

Felicia, and I arrived late on Christmas Eve.

We had seen said California Theo valiantly portraying

a solemn shepherd at the Bay Village located, St. Barnabas’

Episcopal Church.

Theo, his grandparents, Rich and Susan, along with his Cali.

parents, Dorothy and Jon stood up in front, by joining the

adults singing in the choir. Theo and Grandpa Rich had

practiced with the children’s choir for the Nativity portion

of the program,during the week Theo had been there.

Why was Theo valiant? Because his mother and he had had

a horrible bout with either food poisoning or a strong

and fast flu, along with half of Jon’s side of the

family. They were queasy and pale, but stalwart along

with some joy and jubilation once they got through the

sweet children’s “early Christmas Eve service.”

Theo tooted on a long and unusually decorated South

African horn, while we ate and savored turkey, homemade

corn bread stuffing with mushrooms, cranberries and nuts

along with grilled asparagus and other side dishes. We

are much more ‘mindful’ now of our health since Randy’s

quadruple bi-pass surgery and Felicia’s health and

wellness accreditation added to her marketing and

communication degree from UD. She is trying ‘gluten-

free’ due to her aggravated RA which started as a

pre-teen as JRA.

Now, there is never a reason to ‘brag’ about actual

gifts, but I am so pleased with the variety and scope

of the gifts, I hope you will just skip down to the

comments area and add your own favorite gifts you

received. I will be including some my family received

to add some ‘unselfishness’ to my listing gifts!

My friends at work and I exchanged gifts at work on

Monday, along with bringing a snack to share, too. I

am always amazed that I would never have met these

hard working and more manual labor workers than I may

have met through teaching. They are definitely the

light that keeps me going when I am exhausted while

lifting repetitively 30-50 pound hampers!

My friends from the Philippines shared food, of course.

I had given Kridia a Mary Poppins Madame Alexander older

doll right in her precious box. I was happy with Felda’s

gift of saying that not only had they watched the old

“Mary Poppins” movie, they had enjoyed the older version

of “Sound of Music,” but Kridia “votes” for the newer one

with Carrie Underwood. They are planning on taking her to

see, or maybe due to little restless ‘Zachie Poo,’ may

wait to see “Saving Mr. Banks.” That movie is the one

based on the “real” Mary Poppins and “real” Banks Family.

I am anxious to get a chance to see that one, too!

Tammy brought a red, green and white swirled cake with

vanilla cream frosting with coconut and it was in the

triangular shape of a tree! It had red and green M & M’s

on it, too.

Melvin caught me in the parking lot, giving me a German

wine that had spices and tasted like a hard mulled cider,

but was 10 % alcoholic content. I drank this with my family

up in Cleveland, warmed and yummy. He said when he had

heard me talking about my immigrant grandparents, he had

thought of me, then while at the Rickenbacker Air Force

Base commissary, had purchased it to give to me. I cannot

pronounce nor write the name of the wine, but you may

look up holiday German wines and find it! Melvin was once

stationed there, so he says that carolers travel around

the small towns, shops have tables outside their doors,

enticing shoppers by some of their wares and little cups

of this heated wine. I kept the bottle, but did am not so

great at reading the ornate lettering on it, so am not

totally sure of the name of that wine!

Susan had put the South African gifts unwrapped under the

tree, we opened them, since Felicia and I would be leaving

on Christmas day to travel almost 2 and 1/2 hours back to

my son’s ‘party’ and family gathering with the 6 grandies.

I took Trista the giraffe printed purse that was a cloth

tapestry material with a sling kind of strap. It will be

a great “Mommy” purse. I took Jamie a polar bear mug and

its little goodies from Mom, along with hot Cheetos. He

used to get tins of sardines, herrings and tuna fish from

my Dad, my Mom tried to continue this tradition for

several years, but had decided to downsize her gifts, more

out of having to haul them from the bus to her apartment,

than a budgeting issue. My daughter got a snowman mug with

dark chocolates from Mom, I received a card with $10 and

a big hug, along with her little saved cookies from the

dining room to take home. She also ‘re-gifted’ for Jamie

and Trista, a big box of Fannie Mae chocolates. Felicia

and I had both given her boxes of dark chocolates, and

Randy had gone to the Cleveland Malley’s chocolate shoppe,

where he had given us all yummy and great quality candy.

Susan gave my oldest daughter a Cape Town calendar. (These

gifts for son, oldest daughter and daughter in law were

taken to them. Son and family had gone up for Thanksgiving,

daughter more than once had brought the two boys up, too.)

I received, in the mail, a wonderful book that I have been

reading and studying about writing. It is called, “On

Writing Well,” by William Zinsser. It is a 30th Anniversary

Edition, given by my friend, Gary, who is the man I kept of

the match.com group of men, who writes for the sports section

of the Columbus Dispatch. I was thrilled with the UPS package

on a few days before Christmas. I have read and recommend the

forefather of this book, “Elements of Style,” written by E.B.

White with his English Professor friend and colleague, William

Strunk. Strunk and White’s book was one I read in college about

writing.

Bill had taken me to eat, twice in December, although both times

I offer and he accepts money for a hefty tip or the whole meal,

in the case of the salad bar at Ruby Tuesdays. His gift is always

a big dose of philosophy, analyzing our lives so far, cheerful

talks about his Heather and my current ‘love,’ at the time.

I thoroughly enjoyed and reveled in the Christmas concert and

meal with that special friend. I loved the fact we walked from

my apartment, across one of the three bridges and up the steep

and slippery hill and steps to Gray Chapel, Ohio Wesleyan Campus.

Although there was a constant attempt to keep the salted sidewalks

from getting slippery, the walk was a little treacherous, as I

wore a nice pair of heels! I wore an attractive “ensemble” and my

old, herringbone woolen long coat and gray cashmere (previous year’s

gift from youngest daughter) scarf. This was what I had worn when

I met up with my ex-husband on First Friday of Delaware with a green

cashmere sweater, that gift from a friend, and jeans, that night.

There was Chaos! upon arrival at my son’s but the children were

overall very well behaved. There is always a long table set up with

the munchies that I adore, pineapple slices, veggie tray with ranch

dressing, a relish tray with my sweet gherkin pickles, along with

my bringing two balls of the chipped beef cream cheese ‘logs’ with

100% whole wheat crackers and Triscuits. My youngest daughter

ignored the beef part of the logs and ate it anyway, since the

cream cheese and chives interior is basically healthy and gluten-

free. She ate all the veggies, the pineapple and watched herself

by eating a bite of the famous 3 cheese mac n’ cheese, Trista

makes for all family gatherings.

I was able to get photographs of most of the children with

their opening the gifts (I gave school and play clothes)

while my brother’s gifts of toys were a welcome relief!

Too bad he could not have seen the hour long play with the

two girl cousins (Jade and Makyah) with the wooden painted

and unusually shaped beads and strings. Randy gave some

awesome gifts of coffees to my girls and also, Mod Podge

in two big jars, to my oldest artistic daughter. He got

a great Crock Pot for the main meal planners, Jamie and

Trista, along with some candies to share at the party.

You see, at Jamie and Trista’s house, they have two

rooms, the play room and the kitchen set up with food!

The revelry and comraderie, includes Trista’s father,

Jerry.

He seemed, understandably, lost and saddened by his

wife, Chris’ passing, her son and his wife, Jerry’s

son and wife, friend, Alan, Theresa and Hailey, Zena,

Emily and Jason, along with my three children and six

grands.

There is always an atmosphere of joviality with the

men sometimes imbiding some ales or beers, the women

having a glass of wine, too. The children ‘munch and

run,’ or grab and take on the go snacks but they are

required to stay with food in the kitchen or playroom

areas. The little girls, Kyah and Jade, were using

water in their tea cups and using the play tea pot

in the living room, before being scolded and sent

back to the playroom. The boys were having fun with

their tablets or DSL’s? is that what they are called?

Nana never looks at those games nor tries to play

them, unlike Wii games of bowling or other fun things

on the big screen television in the family room. I

was once a Donkey Kong “Queen” amongst my son’s

group of Nintendo friends. That is the last time I

attempted that sort of game!

Children everywhere, the tree lights glowing and the

atmosphere was warm and toasty, filled with the

abundance of love flowing all around us. Such a gift

that is beyond words…

A final quotation that pertains to “abundance” by

Thomas Kinkade:

“Perceptions of beauty vary. We should delight in the

diversity of taste, just as we rejoice in the

abundance of experiences that life has to offer.”

Although, I attempted, really tried to shorten this!

Expressions and Vocabulary

Standard

There are a few words that are ‘thrown around’ this time of year that

I was not completely sure of and wanted to know more about them. I hope

you will put up with another post about Christmas! I just love this time

of year and all the festivities and wonder!

These are words or phrases that I thought I knew but ‘missed the mark’

and learned more about the complete definitions and explanations.

1.) Did you know in the original “Twelve Days of Christmas” that the

Four _________ Birds were not “Calling Birds?” The original English

version calls these birds, “colly birds!” In 1780, this song was

included in a book, entitled, “Mirth without Mischief.” The birds

can be interchangeable in their names. So, we now sing the more

common and the other name is long out of practice.

2.) wassail- noun. 1. An early English toast to someone’s health.

2. A liquor made of ale or wine, spices and often baked apples

served in a large punch bowl, usually at Christmas. 3. Riotous

drinking.

I wondered why people could go “wassailing” when it was all about

toasting, drinking and having a riot of a celebration? The word

eventually meant to go caroling.

3.) When they say, “We will bring some ‘figgy pudding’ I wondered

what this entailed, also.

By using the definition of “fig” you will find the word “trifle”

within it. A trifle can be a cake or treat…

fig- noun. 1. Usually edible oblong or pear-shaped fruit of a tree

of the mulberry family. Also: A tree bearing figs. 2. Trifle.

(Cake layered dessert.) I also could see that when you say, “I don’t

give a fig about it!” that is a trifle amount. So, there!

4.) myrrh- noun. A brown, slightly bitter aromatic gum resin obtained

from African and Arabian trees and used especially in perfumes or

formerly, in incense. (This is one of the Gifts of the Magi, the

Three Wise Men, who by the way, are not really numerated as “three”

in the Bible!)

5.) I know this is silly but I wondered if people ‘boxed’ on Boxing

Day, this is celebrated in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada

on December 26th! I mean I wrote it on my December calendar but did

not know the meaning of “Boxing Day!” It is a postal holiday that

is observed as a ‘legal holiday’ in parts of the British Commonwealth,

coming from a historical point of view, when they would give the

postmen Christmas boxes for their service as gifts.

6.) In ancient England, kisses were given under the mistletoe as a

ceremonial act of ending grievances! I looked up the definition

and this is not included in my Brittanica-Webster Dictionary!

mistletoe- noun. A green plant with yellowish flowers and waxy,

white berries that grows on the branches and trunks of trees.

In another book, I found out that the word “toe = twig.”

Sprigs over doors were symbolizing Peace to guests; not exactly

the romantic way that we picture it in today’s customs!

7.) Someone at work asked me to look up “partridge” and explain

why this is used as the First day of Christmas. I could not find

why it is the type of bird used, but here is the definition that

did have a pleasant, sweet looking drawing accompanied with it.

partridge- noun. Any of several stout-bodied Old World game birds

related to the common domestic fowl. In North America, a similar

looking bird is called the ‘bob-white’ or ruffed grouse.

8.) turtledove- noun. Any of several small wild pigeons especially

of an Old World genus, noted for cooing.

Both the partridge and turtledove are acknowledged as “Old World”

birds, so interesting to me!

9.) courser- noun. A swift or spirited horse.

No mention of a reindeer but this was the question that my 9 year

old grandson asked, “What are coursers?” while I was reading the

“Twas the Night Before Christmas” book.

10.) frankincense- noun. A fragrant gum resin from African or Arabian

trees that is burned as incense.

This definition sounds familiar, hmmm! the same as “myrrh” in most of

the words chosen to define these.

Last but not numbered, I learned a fascinating tradition about the

Yule Log:

Once this was a popular tradition, but rarely continued among the

‘regular’ people these days. It originated in medieval days, when

Yule logs were chosen on a specific date: February 2nd. This log

would be held in a location until New Year’s Eve of that same year.

So, once the log was chosen, it was protected and kept in a special

place of honor. It was dried outside from winter, through all the

seasons, until December 31st. This was a family custom that has

gone by the wayside. I think it would be a wonderful one to start

again, because it has a purpose! It becomes a forgiving force of

nature!

Here is how it goes… A piece of this log becomes the way to light

the “yule fire.” The directions say to use this piece of the saved

log as a “foundation of the Yule fire.” Nowadays, to continue this

or renew this meaning as a family tradition, it would include any

log could be used along with decorating it with ribbons or using

chemicals to produce colored flames.

Burning this to “ash” all the bad feeling or hard times of the

past year away. This previous year could also be considered by

writing notes on pieces of paper, folding them, with the content

meant to be the bad feelings, illnesses or hard times family

members experienced. By writing them, then folding them up

and throwing them upon the fire, any problems, quarrels or

grudges may be forgotten.

In France, the bakers in bakeries make delicious cakes that

are called, buche de Noel.” The cakes are in the shape of a

Yule log. Knowing how I love French pastries, I am sure this

would be scrumptious! I would like to have this on New Year’s

Day!