Category Archives: Yule log

Art, Environment and Health News

Standard

“I loved the title for this short entry in the “Natural Awakenings”

magazine: “Looking at Beautiful Art Bumps Up Brain Activity.”

At Japan’s Oita University there were outstanding research results

and I will share them with you. Another part of this article will give

you some natural choices to replace antibiotics in fighting those

winter illnesses. While looking at locally grown foods, the pesticide

levels are less in those choices over the ones found in stores. Also,

an interesting find that I came across had two ecological and ‘green’

facts to make sure we contribute to a better world.

How did they measure the increase of brain activity ? You may have

guessed that in the Japanese study of MRI scans, (which are magnetic

resonance imaging screenings) were the source for the scientific

results found in this research study.

I enjoyed the comparison of slides shown of still lifes and landscape

paintings to the actual real artwork of paintings in a museum. The

39 subjects were shown slides of art and later, presented with the

paintings. Another element they were researching was asking them

to express their feelings of the element of beauty in the  slides and

then again, what degree of beauty they felt the actual paintings were.

The most “beautiful” in the subject’s ‘eyes’ of ‘real art’ were rated

significantly higher in the pre-experimental phase over the slides of

paintings.  They called the slides of the paintings, “corresponding

photographic analogs.”

“The MRI’s showed that during the experiment, portions of the brain’s

frontal lobe, related to emotions, memory, learning and decision-making

were activated.” (November, Central Ohio; “Natural Awakenings.”)

Final significant results were that when the researchers compared the

“positive effects of aesthetic appreciation of the art paintings versus

the photographs, they noted more activity at the back of the subject’s

brain.” Which means both areas of the frontal lobes and back part of

the brain were stimulated but the back part was raised at a higher level

of activity.  The location in the back parts were in the bilateral cuneus,

which is a part of the occipital lobe and the left lingual gyrus or ridge.

This means the basic visual processing location and the visual memory,

logical ordering and dreaming areas were the most stimulated with

it being verified on the MRI’s.

When we eat foods, such as fruits and vegetables, we need to make

sure we are getting them from a ‘safe’ source. I think this is a fact we

are all aware of but the interesting facts were presented once again,

which prodded me to share this information here. Conventionally

grown foods contain pesticide residues that are 3-4 times higher in

organically grown foods. This was found in the “British Journal of

Nutrition,” where they conducted 343 research studies and published

last June. Since from the farm to the market is a continually growing

industry, it is nice to have facts that support this movement. The ones

grown on organic farms also were found to have higher levels of healthy

nutrients such as minerals, vitamins and antioxidents. Ones that are

grown with phosphorus fertilizers and not including mineral nitrogen

in their practices were found to contain higher levels of cadmium. The

study’s results confirmed this in the following statement:

“Results indicate that switching from conventional to organice crop

consumption would result in a 20-40 % increase in crop-based anti-

oxidants and polyphenolic intake levels.

The emphasis on Honey and Ginger being such healthy and natural

curative power sources even fought the drug-resistant bacteria which

have a list of long names:

“Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli (E Coli) and Klebsiella

pneumoniae.” Also known as “Super bugs.”

* Further clinical examination is needed to standardize the amounts

in these two ingredients for cold, flu and germ fighting. The research

was conducted at Ethipia’s University of Gondar College of Medicine.

I concluded, we may as well include healthy doses of honey in our

diet, along with including ginger while cooking. I love sauces where

the sweetness is balanced by the spice ginger, along with making a dark

black tea, with some ginger added for flavoring, honey for sweetening.

India’s green project to improve their environment, is focusing on the

areas along their 62,137 miles of highways. India’s Rural Development

Ministry is following their kind of “Johnny Appleseed,” America’s

noted man of  spreading apple seeds along different areas. India’s

hero is named Jadav “Molai” Payeng, an Indian man who. all by

himself, planted 1,360 acres of forest.

This project has three focuses: to help provide jobs for the rural poor

people, include youth in employment and improving the environment.

The country of India has been suffering from severe air pollution.

The World Health Organization released unfortunate statistics of India’s

youth unemployment rate being 10.2 percent and #6 on a list of World’s

Ten Worst Cities with air pollution. The Prime Minister Narenda Modi

has announced a goal of spreading electricity to every home by 2019,

which will rely largely on solar power. Other areas of health concern are

also being targeted for cleaning the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.

 

Merry Christmas news for environmentally concerned:

“The Greenest Tree” is supporing buying locally grown trees,

preferable ones that will be grown outdoors, with a close

second being ones that are cut down in tree farms that are

purposely evergreens growing for resale.

Here is the reason:

85% of artificial trees are sourced from China and often contain

toxic chemicals.

Looking at the carbon trail is also important, meaning how much

effort and use of power and resources was used to get the tree to

your home.

Temporary sidewalk or street corner tree lots may be getting trees

where pesticides are used to create the Perfect Tree. These are not

good fro homes, again, comparing this to the natural sourced trees.

Sometimes, home-grown products are just about what we put into

our body for food, but what we breathe for a month while it is in

our living areas.

According to National Geographic Green Guide, Americans actually

discard 30 million cut trees after the holidays. Oh my goodness!

The wood is ‘wasted’ in landfills.  One state that is leading a better

way to go with old Christmas trees is in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

where they collect them to combat coastal erosion. Way to go!

Locate tree growers by state and learn how to dispose trees responsibly.

There are great places and resources to check up on facts:

http://PickYourOwnChristmasTree.org

http://GreenPromise.com

http://Tinyurl.com/65oqh9

There are detailed steps for care and planting potted trees at

http://WikiHow.com and other locations of the Tinyurl.com

website.

Do you mind letting me know if any of these facts were helpful

or ones you learned today? Also, any other Green Choices or

healthy suggestions are welcome here.

 

 

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!