Parsley and Memories

My first experience with herbs was in the backyard of the farmhouse where I lived as as a young child. Parsley was the only herb my foster grandmother grew, but it made a great impression upon me.

I remember picking the pungent stems, just the way she showed me, chewing a few of the curly little leaves while I worked. The taste was pungent, savory, peppery, the flavor of spring, of tradition. My grandmother told me stories as we harvested, of life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when she was young.

She was nearly ninety, when I was born so the tales she told of tradition, of gardening, and just plain living, were nearly forgotten by most, even then.

Some years I’ve cultivated nearly a dozen varieties of herbal plants. This spring, I lacked time and energy for so many, but I couldn’t resist starting a couple pots of parsley, in memory of Grandma Lee.

Parsley loves cool weather. It’s sometimes healthy and full at Thanksgiving, ready for use in holiday turkey dressing. I’ve never planted it in late summer, but perhaps that’s a possibility.

What the Heck are Antique Pockets?

 

Can’t believe I’ve never heard of them. Learned of this fairly common item used by our multi-great grandmothers through Thread on Arrival, A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery by Lea Wait.

Apparently in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, women and girls didn’t have pockets sewn into their skirts. Rather, an invisible slit was sewn into the skirts, camouflaged behind a pleat.

The ladies could reach a hand through the slit to access items stored in a pouch tied around their waist with a thin strip of fabric. Some of the pouches had drawstring tops, some were embroidered.

Women who were less well-off generally had plain pockets which were lost over time. Some of the embroidered ones owned by wealthier women remain, and are cherished, collectible antiques.

An Enchanting Springtime Morning in a Lovely Country Churchyard

This has always been my favorite country church. I’ve not been inside, but the churchyard is charming. Especially so on a springtime morning. Birds soared overhead, the scent of newly emerging greenery permeated the air.

The architectural details are simple yet show a sense of class. Something missing from most modern architecture.

I’ll post more photos of the building and lawn when I’m able to load them. The internet is incredibly slow; due, I suppose to everyone working and studying at home for safety.

Book Review of Crash – The Great Depression and the Rise and Fall of America by Marc Favreau: This book carries messages we need now.

A story of pain and suffering, but also a tale of hope and inspiration.

The Crash by Marc Favreau, tells many little known details of the times leading up to The Great Depression in America, the human impact of the devastated economy, the rise to prosperity fueled, whether fortunately or not so positively, by World War II:

Herbert Hoover suffered the bad luck of being president at the time of the crash but his seeming lack of sympathy for those who suffered most spelled his death as president.

His lack of ideas for bringing the country back to prosperity caused his presidency to go up in smoke with the “Bonus Army’s” shacks – the ones that Hoover ordered burned to the ground to quell the fervor of the World War I Veterans who protested the postponement of their promised benefits until 1945, during a time when they greatly needed the supplemental income.

The story tells of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, two people of wealth and privilege who formed plans to help all Americans.

Their marriage wasn’t always completely rewarding, but they each remained focused, without arrogance, upon improving conditions for the country’s citizens.

This excerpt from an early speech by FDR captures the spirit of his presidency and of Eleanor’s attitude:

“Help for people stricken by the Crash must be extended by Government not as a matter of social duty; the State accepts the task cheerfully because it believes that it will help restore that close relationship with its people which is necessary to preserve our democratic form of government.”

Whether the offering of government sponsored jobs and aid was done in the interest of keeping the public peace, or due to actual empathy on the part of leaders, it was certainly a necessary and humanitarian action.

Readers learn of fights for citizen benefits. Of civil rights and worker’s rights.Of the CCC and the WPA, and various programs that pulled people up from despair and failure, lifting their prospects spiritually and financially, and improving conditions across the country.

Of people like John L. Lewis, a man touched by the witnessing of a horrific mining explosion, who founded the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

Of the little-known lady named Frances Perkins who inspired and drafted the founding documents of the Social Security System. The same lady hoped for a system to provide health care for all, but achievement of that goal still lies in the future.

The Crash and resulting Depression of the 1930’s taught us many lessons. Alas, history tends to repeat itself due to lack of respect from citizens.

The causes of our country’s troubles today differ a bit from those of the Depression. But the resulting affect on society seems similar. May the lessons we learn from the current situation in our country, and the COVID-19 pandemic, lead America to develop new programs to provide hope and prosperity for all of its citizens.

A study of The Crash, can inspire hope and innovation action to benefit our future.

 

 

Daffodil Days

Nearly the only spring bulb that isn’t eaten by rodents, daffodils are among the most reliable of flowers. Highly popular, the traditional large yellow ones dot lawns, fields, woods edges, brightening rainy April days.

I love all the varieties in the Brecks and other catalogs of bulbs, but alas, lack funds and stamina to order and plant them all.

Daff-a-down-dilly, daffodilly, lent-lily, are some of this flower’s traditional nicknames. They symbolize regard and chivalry, and naturalize well.

Many poets have written poems about them. Here’s a popular one:

Daffodil

by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

 I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

From The Complete Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles

Book Review of The Complete Language of Flowers By Sheila Pickles

I do love the British- At least their whimsical attitude toward gardening and home life.

This book is like a lovely museum devoted to flower lore and Renaissance and 19th Century paintings – of long ago scenes of children and adults, seemingly intoxicated by the pleasure of languishing in verdant settings filled with color and greenery.

Author Sheila Pickle should be commended for recording in such a wonderful way, the traditional symbolism and tradition of classic flower species.

I shall have to seek out her other works, including, The Essence of English Life, and Simply Christmas 

I plan to include posts referencing The Complete Language of Flowers over the next few months, with full credit to the book and its author.

If you love gardens and nature, if you long for the days when spare time on fair season days was spent, not with eyes glued to a screen, but lazing in the sunshine reflecting upon the symbolic essence of flowering plants, you must seek a copy of this book.

A first rate escape from stress.

 

Snowdrops Peeked From Beneath the Coating of White Last Weekend

I’ve written before of the patches of snowdrops near my backdoor. I’d forgotten to look for them this year, but, seeking a ray of sunshine last Sunday morning, I ventured forth as the snows of the previous evening began to evaporate.

The sight of the hardy little teardrops graced with edges of bright green presented me with the gift of inspiration I was seeking.

I’ve recently found a copy of a book I’d been meaning to check out, The Complete Language of Flowers by Sheila Pickles  – book review to follow in a future post.

The section on snowdrops says they were brought to Britain by monks in the fifteenth century, who wished for a flower to bloom on Candlemas Day, the first of February.

They don’t bloom quite that early in Ohio but they nearly always blossom when it’s still winter.

In flower lore, and in my mind as well, they are considered symbols of hope.

Here’s what Wordsworth has to say about them:

To a Snowdrop

By William Wordsworth

 

Lone Flower, hemmed in with snows, and white as they

But hardier far, once more I see thee bend

Thy forehead as if fearful to offend,

Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day

Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay

The rising sun, and on the plains descend;

Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend

Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May

Shall soon behold this border thickly set

With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing

On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers’

Nor will I then they modest grace forget,

Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring

And pensive monitor of fleeting years!

 

Why is it Called Cold Cream and Where Did it Come From?

Sometimes I suddenly wonder how a common product or item got its name. Thus with cold cream. Is it because we need it more in winter, when our skin is drier?

My statement may be accurate, but after searching for the real answer, it seems cold cream was named  because of the cool feeling it gives to the skin upon application.

Interesting. In the summer I use Noxzema, for the momentary chill I feel when I spread it upon my face, stressed from the day’s heat. I use cold cream more in winter, as it seems, to me, more soothing, warming.

What Exactly is Cold Cream?

Cold cream seems to differ from lotion due to the cream’s higher water content. It’s basically a mix of some sort of oil, and water along with an emulsifier and a thickening agent. Cold cream is specially formulated for cleansing, without depleting moisture from the skin. It’s sometimes referred to as cleansing cream.

But my mother and many others spread thick layers of it upon their faces at bedtime. To fight the ravages of aging.

These days, sometimes scents, glycerine or other ingredients are added to increase the aesthetic and therapeutic effects.

How Long Has Cold Cream Been Around?

The invention of cold cream has been attributed to Galen, a Roman physician, who reportedly mixed molten beeswax with olive oil nearly 2000 years ago.

In 1846, American pharmacist, Theron Pond began to experiment with women’s beauty products. According to the company’s site, Ponds Cold Cream and Vanishing Cream, designed for skin which tended to be more oily, became very popular as World War II began.

Now the most recognized brand on drugstore shelves, women continue to discover the healing and beautifying properties of Pond’s cold cream, dry skin cream, and related beaut products.

A Mother’s Tradition, Passed on to Daughters

As a child, I felt so grown up when my mother let me spread cold cream on my skin at bedtime. It was common in the 1960’s for women to sleep in rollers, looking like electrified ghosts, with their heavy white cold cream masks. No doubt the product protected their face from aging, the curlers made their hair beautiful for the start of the following day. But I don’t know that young husbands approved of the bizarre bedtime rituals. But wives weren’t expected to be sexy 24/7 back then.

Thankfully today, we know a thin layer of moisturizer is normally sufficient. Blow driers have pretty much eliminated the need for sleeping in rollers.

There are now many products on store shelves for preventing excessive skin aging. But these days when we all need to simplify our lives, cold cream seems to be making a comeback. Many women, including Australian singer, Kylie Minogue, are finding it a favorite beauty product.

I wouldn’t want to return to the days of archaic bedtime rituals, but I must say it’s fun to occasionally don on a bathrobe, put my hair up in rollers, cover my face with a thick, soft plaster of  lightly scented cold cream, and paint my nails a pretty shade of pink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeking a Simple Tool for Practical Purposes

So many implements we used to take for granted are now quite rare. Neither a trip to a hardware store, nor a big box building store yielded a simple metal bucket like this one.

It’s seen some hard use and I wanted to replace it with one less worn, but I will have to look a bit further. Perhaps a traditional farm store will have one, though they don’t carry everything they used to.

I left this one outside accidentally last spring, but liked the way it looked in this setting so left it there.

Some may see it as a piece of junk, nestled amid the weeds next to a worn railing, but to me these types of scenes are a form of art.

Book Review of Drive Thru Dreams by Adam Chandler

This tale of the history of the fast food industry was quite entertaining and enormously informative.

Among other fascinating facts, I learned that Ray Kroc was quite the tough guy. The McDonalds Brothers got ripped off, though thier name will go down in history.

The Colonel was a true fast food pioneer, but he toiled endlessly to reach the top, then, when the interstate highway system was constructed, the chain’s locations on small town main streets suffered, necessitating a revamp, financially and logistically.

By that time the Colonel was in his sixties, yet he tirelessly took to the road in his own car once more, plugging franchise opportunities to small-time restaurant owners.

When he sold the chain, the man who started it all was taken advantage of in the end.

The overall fast food story follows the course of most American business over the past half century.

Companies pulled to success by the bootstraps of creative, determined, individuals, have been taken advantage of by corporate interests who, today, reap immense profits with only pennies going to those whos dole out bags of hamburgers, cups of Coke or Pepsi, or the new innovative menu variations that cater to the changing culture of fast food consumers.

But what would we do without our fast food in today’s hustle culture? We baby boomers can reminisce all we want about leisurely family dinners prepared by our mothers, where each of the day’s events were discussed in depth, wise advice given us by our parents, as we anticipated the dessert course, served on decorative plates.

The reality is, try as we might, not many families have work schedules that permit formerly  common civilized rituals.

So, should we praise Ray Kroc and pass the Big Macs?

I wouldn’t go that far, but I do recommend reading Drive Thru Dreams. It’s a documentary style book but it won’t bore you. Expecting to scan it as I do most non-ficion publications, I drooled over the interesting details on every page.