Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: The Surprise Doll

The Surprise Doll
Author: Morrell Gipson
Artist: Steffie Lerch

Forward thinking children’s books come from all eras. Even though this book written in the 1940s, before the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, it is an excellent example of the understanding that we humans are more alike than different.

One girl wants a special doll. She visits a doll maker with the hope that she will have a doll for each day of the week. She has to leave her dolls with the toy maker. She misses her dolls.

When she returns to the toy maker on the appointed day, her surprise doll has qualities of each of her dolls. I won’t give away the biggest surprise.

This is one of my personal favorites. My father used to read it to me often. When I read it to my kids, I can remember the sound of his voice like an echo, “just like me.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Value of Volunteering

The value of Volunteering in life is directly relational to the project to which we volunteer. Volunteering for a mandated number of hours has its value, perhaps to alleviate some penalty. This volunteering is good but it’s not out of desire to do good works, it’s from the desire to avoid penalty.

Volunteering as a responsibility to our community or out of desire just to be of service creates the most value because the motivation is positive to positive. The positive, not avoiding penalty plus the positive of the action creates a greater good.

Particular to this thought is the need for mentors, whether the mentorship within a business situation or for youth in the community. Mentors or Masters are necessary so society moves forward. If the new or young people to a trade or craft are always reinventing the wheel, we as society fail to move forward from our current status.

4H was introduced a little over a hundred years ago via the University Extension Services to help boys with growing crops and girls with canning produce. Since that time 4H has expanded into all areas of farm and animal husbandry as well as technology, science, art, crafts, public speaking, theater arts, and more.

I am privileged to mentor several girls through the learning process of quilting. This uniquely American textile art which was once part of most women’s creative outlet has waned in the last 50 years.

Recently, there has been increased interest in the art. With few mentors in the craft, I’m pleased to share the joy of creating beautiful and useful items.

It came to my attention that many volunteer projects are creating a difficulty by taking what was a paid position and making it a volunteer job or internship. I’m not taking anyone’s job by volunteering in this way. In fact, much of what was considered women’s work, aka unpaid, is just not done. The field is wide open to volunteer in what past centuries labeled as women’s work. These venues of volunteerism are still available, still necessary. They are the fabric of our society.

The fact is many of the ways in which our foremothers related with one another, supported each other and the greater society are just what we find lacking in today’s world. It could be considered nostalgic by the uncreative, but I beg to differ. The remnants of a once great textile industry are ready for resurgence but we need society to value the creation of hand-made items as well as the value the volunteers who pass on such knowledge.

4H is an excellent program for youth. It provides learning experience for young people in a many different fields of knowledge. It also provides the opportunity to share sports, crafts, gardening, animal and technological knowledge with the next generation.


Monday, May 16, 2011

A Good Omen: Ladybug

When a good omen visits, it’s nice to tell nature or the world thank you for sending the message of balance this day.

Ladybugs are good omens. Since the Middle Ages, ladybugs have been connected with saving crops from being overrun by other insects.

Depending on your local history, Ladybugs may be responsible for predicting how much money you’ll have, how many children you’ll have, a cure for tooth aches or improvement of your overall health. But no matter where you live, it’s considered bad luck to kill a ladybug.

Some of the amazing fact about ladybugs includes: Ladybugs are beetles. There are at least 400 different kinds of ladybugs in North America and nearly 5,000 different varieties around the world.

Without the ladybug we’d be overrun with aphids. Aphids are a favorite food of the ladybug. Contrary-wise, Ladybugs are not a favorite food to any predator. They release a chemical so they don’t taste very good.

Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home
Your house is on fire,
Your children are gone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Horseradish: Herb of 2011

Horseradish, known is scientific circles as Armoracia rusticana is a close relative to broccoli, cabbage and mustard. It grows as high as 5 feet (1.5 meters) with large leaves and beautiful white flowers.

Best When Used: The Horseradish root is best use when freshly broken providing the most pungent of tastes and unique aroma.

Myth: Ancient Greek myth states the horseradish root is worth its weight in gold for the myriad of medicinal uses. These medicinal applications were commonly used through the Renaissance period.

Good Health: Horseradish contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin C.

Medicinal Use: Known to herbalists through the ages as a diuretic, Horseradish is used in treatment of minor health problems such as urinary tract bronchitis, coughs, infections, and sinus infection. Recent biochemical research reports Horseradish kills harmful bacteria and has an immuno boosting constituent.

Growing: The root grows better in a sunny area. Plant the root immediately in a moist hole twice as large as the root itself. Keep the area moist but not soggy wet. Add compost two or three time per growing season. Horseradish grows into zone 5. Harvest in the autumn after the first frost for the most pungent flavors.

Landscape: Horseradish is used as a border accent flowering plant.


Granny’s Horseradish Sauce

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup horseradish
1/8 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp mustard
1 bunch chopped chives.

Blend together. Pour over steak or seafood.

Food Uses:

Breakfast: Scramble 1-tsp in with scrambled eggs.
Lunch: Add ½ tsp to mayonnaise on a sandwich.
Dinner: Use Granny’s Sauce with abandon

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Watching Gerenuk (genus: Litocranius) eat is a calming experience. The East African antelope also known as the giraffe-necked antelope have a beautifully muscular, yet slender body. Their movement is delightfully graceful.

Indigenous to the African continent, it may be surprising that the Gerenuk are picky eaters. They tend to select the juiciest leaves available, leaving the rest behind.

Nature has uniquely situated these elegant animals at just the right height for the best food selection: fruit, flowers and leaves. Taller than the most gazelles, their selection is greater and higher on the bush or tree than their smaller food competitors. Since they average 4-5 feet in length, they are far smaller than giraffes that graze further up the tree.

Male Gerenuk have horns, females do not. They are otherwise very similar in size, shape and coloring. Both the male and the female stand on their hind legs to feed.

A well-cared for Gerenuk can live up to 13 years in captivity, while the average lifespan in the wild is only 8 years.

Watch and learn more about Gerenuk: http://www.lazoo.org/animals/mammals/gerenuk/