Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Unusual Halloween Traditions.

Pumpkin, Halloween, Halloweenkuerbis  Since I pretty much grew up in the United States, I'm most familiar with carving pumpkins and going trick or treating but what about other traditions?

In the Hispanic culture, Mexico, and Latin America they celebrate El Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead.  This celebration begins on October 31 and covers three days to celebrate those who have passed on. 

It is believed that the spirits of the loved ones return home at this time of the year, so families construct an alter filled with candy, flowers, photographs, candles, and they burn candles to guide the loved one home. On November 2nd, families gather at the local cemetery for a picnic and to talk about those they have lost.

In several northern cities, people celebrate "Mischief night" where tricks are played on people, houses and trees are covered with toilet paper, Or things are egged.  Something I never did but have seen happen in a few places I've lived.  This celebration can occur as early as the night before Halloween and as late as November 4th.  In some places, the practice has become so destructive and violent, volunteers help patrol.

In a handful of cities, when  knocking on the door, people are expected to say "Tricks for Treats" and then tell a joke to get the treat.  It doesn't matter if the joke is bad, they just want to hear a joke and every child is rewarded with candy.

Over in the UK, people build huge bonfires and then throw vegetables, stones, and nuts into the fire to frighten spirits away while learning a bit about their futures.  Some beliefs on this included one where if the stone seemingly disappeared from the fire by morning, the person was doomed to die within the next year while if lovers threw nuts into the fire and they exploded, their marriage was doomed.

In Ireland they offer barmbrack which is a fruit cake with muslin wrapped trinkets inside.  These trinkets are said to be indications of the future such as if you find a ring, it means romance is in your future. In Scotland, they believe you should take the peel off an apple in one long strip to throw behind you.  The shape shows the first letter of your future spouses name.

Of course there is this one.  When I was in middle school, I used to trick or treat for UNICEF to earn money to help them.  It also gave me an excuse to go out with my siblings in costume to enjoy the evening. This tradition is still going strong since its inception back in 1950 in Philadelphia.  This event has earned over $118 million since then.

Due to the uncertainty of trick or treating at stranger's houses, a new tradition has started.  People gather in parking lots offering a "Trunk or Treating" where children can still go trick or treating in a safer environment while still being supervised.

In Austria, you are expected to leave bread out and the lights on all night long between October 30th and November 8th.  It is believed these items will welcome the dead back to the earth for the one week they can return. In Germany, they believe the same thing, except they put away all the knives so the spirits are unable to hurt themselves.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about a few unusual Halloween traditions.  I hope you have a good evening.  Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 30, 2017

History of Carving Pumpkins

Halloween, Jack O Lantern  As long as I can remember, my family has always had a tradition of carving pumpkins for Halloween.  We never carve it until the day of Halloween because as soon as the day is done, we've always baked the pumpkin to use for Thanksgiving pies.  The seeds are always dried and cooked up to eat for snacks.

I've always wondered where the tradition of carving pumpkins came from. Apparently, the tradition of carving scary faces into pumpkins and lighting the face comes from an Irish folktale on Stingy Jack.  The Irish never used pumpkins because its a new world food.  Instead they used to carve faces into large turnips and potatoes.

When the Irish immigrated to the United States, they brought the tradition with them and began using pumpkins.  According to the myth, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him but true to his name, Stingy Jack never paid for anything if possible.  So he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin to pay for drinks but instead he kept the money.  He placed it in his pocket right next to a silver cross.  The cross prevented the Devil from changing back so in order to return to his form, the Devil had to promise not to bother Jack for a whole year nor claim his soul should he die during that year.

A year later, Jack convinced the Devil to climb a tree to pick a piece of fruit but while the Devil was up the tree, he carved a cross in the trunk to keep the Devil from climbing down.  Jack made the Devil promise not to bother him for 10 years.  During that time, Jack died but God would not allow him into heaven.  The Devil refused to let him into hell due to all the tricks he played on him, so he gave Jack a burning coal to light his way when the Devil sent him out into the dark night.

Jack carried the coal in a carved turnip as he wondered the earth.  The name of his ghostly figure began as Jack of the Lantern but changed to Jack O'Lantern as time passed.  People in Scotland and Ireland began carving scary faces into turnips and placing them in windows and doorways to scare Jack and other evil spirits.  The English used to carve faces into beets for the same purpose.

On the other hand, there are indications that the term Jack O'Lantern is actually a British term originating in the 17th century to refer to anyone carrying a lamp such as a night watchman but I prefer the myth as its more fun.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Look At Cruises.

Cruise, Ship, Cruiser, Cruise Ship  I have never taken a cruise. The closest I've come is when I took a series of ferries from Washington state to Alaska when I first moved up here.  I have friends who regularly take cruises and love them.  One day, I want to take it but it will be a few years yet.

Have you ever wondered when cruises as a vacation option began?  I did.  In the early 1800's most ships were more concerned with moving cargo and mail rather than moving passengers.

In 1818, the Black Ball line began providing regular service from North America to Europe.  In fact, they were the first shipping line who were concerned for their passengers. They carried many of the immigrants from Europe to America due to their reputation for caring for passengers.

The first pleasure cruises began in 1844 when the P & O Cruises sailed liners to the Mediterranean offering its passengers a leisurely trip filled with relaxation and enjoyment.  Later on they expanded their trips to travel to the British Empire, India, the Orient, New Zealand and Australia. 

Throughout the 1850's and 1860's shipping lines focused more on passengers rather than mail.  These ships added electric lights, more deck space, and on board entertainment. In addition, they began offering the steerage class at the bottom of the ship where passengers bought their own food and found their own sleeping spaces.

By 1900's cruise ships became more like floating ornate hotels. Cruise lines focused more on the romance of the voyages rather than the hassle of traveling. In fact, cruises were designed to protect people from the weather and offer enough entertainment to forget they were at sea.  At this time, the British cruise line Cunard instituted dressing up for dinner on the Lusitania and Mauretania, known for speed in crossing the ocean.

Its closest competitor, White Star lines put passengers comfort first when they ordered the Titanic, Olympic, and Brittanic which when build would be the largest and most luxurious of all ships at the time.  We know the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage and the Lusitania hit a mine and sank in 1916.

Cruising was discontinued during World War I because many of the ships were being used in the war.  At the end of the war, cruising began again so during the 1920's the ships regularly traveled to Europe  but the Great Depression caused a drop in the number of passengers.

When World War II broke out, the cruising industry disappeared because the ships were requisitioned and used.  It was not until the end of World War II that cruising started up again. 

Unfortunately with plane service gaining a foot hold in 1958, air travel became faster and easier.  This caused many cruise lines to go bankrupt and they had to sell off their ships.  In the 1960's modern cruising began when cruise lines marketed the cruises as the destination rather than the method of travel.

Since then, cruise ships have enjoyed a relatively stable growth especially since the television show "The Love Boat" showed how great it was. I hope you enjoyed the short history of cruising.

Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bass Reeves and The Lone Ranger.

Lone Ranger, Television, Series, ActorMost people know The Lone Ranger, either from early radio, to the television series in the 1950's, to one of two movies, the most recent one a few years ago.  There is some speculation this fictional character is based on Bass Reeves, a Marshall with over 3000 arrests.

Bass Reeves, an African American was born a slave in Arkansas in 1836.  During the Civil War, he accompanied his owner who fought for the confederacy but as soon as he heard about the Emancipation Proclamation, he declared he was free and took off.

He escaped to the Oklahoma Territory where he was adopted by the Cherokee.  They taught him to ride, shoot, track and  speak 5 native languages, everything he needed to be an effective lawman.

Shortly after the end of the war, he married and settled down as a farmer to raise a family.  He occasionally tracked for lawmen but for the most part.  In 1875, he was hired as one of 200 Deputy Marshalls who worked the territory trying to settle it.

Bass Reeves, the first black lawman east of the Mississippi, was 6 ft 2 inches tall, rode a grey horse, with his trademark black hat and colt 45's worn peacekeeper cross draw style .  Remember the average height for men at this time was only 5 feet 6 inches so he towered above them.

He was fearless and worked hard to fulfill any arrest warrants.  It is especially impressive since he could not read so when he got a warrant, he'd have someone read it to him until he'd memorized all the details.  He worked for 32 years in this job and is said to have arrested 3000 felons and only brought in 20 dead. He admits to only killing 14 and those were in self defense.

Some people claim he is the basis of the fictional Lone Ranger character but according to sources, he was not.  The Lone Ranger character was conceived in 1932 George Trendle who claims to be the creator.  George knew people loved westerns. Its a bit confusing as Fran Striker who worked for Trendle is said to have created him and Jack Jewel who worked at a station in Detroit also is credited. What is provable is that one of the local radio stations began development of this series by securing rights from Striker to create a radio version of the story.

The first five years of the radio series was never recorded and only a few radio scripts exist today.  Fran Striker Jr states the Lone Ranger developed as needed but the first episode came from another one written for a different show. It was adjusted to introduce the character and the character developed as needed.  Tonto was added during the 11th episode so the narrator did not have to explain everything.  Originally, he was a wrinkled old man who drove a wagon.

Over the years, the Lone Ranger continued evolving and changing until he became the character we are familiar with. In 1954, George Trendle sold the series to Jack Wrather so he could concentrate on selling and producing his other series, the Green Hornet.   At this time, television was coming into popularity so the Lone Ranger transitioned to television and eventually into the movies.

Personally, I do not think the Lone Ranger was based on Bass Reeves.  Let me know what you think.  I love to hear from people.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Exercise and Aging.

Fitness, Dumbbells, Training  When I hit one of those Big O's, I decided it was time to begin exercising on a more regular basis because I heard it was good for me.

I was one of those kids who hated P.E. in school.  I preferred college because I could take dance classes rather than tennis or volleyball.  I was not a physical child.  I preferred sitting in a corner reading book after book. 

Once I got out of college and began working, I realized, I needed to incorporate exercise into my daily routines because it helped keep me sane, allowed me to work off stress, and keep my weight under control.  Now that I'm a bit older, I've discovered exercise is still good for me but in a different way.

It appears that exercise does help reduce aging because the exercise helps keep cells younger.  They've found as long as people start exercising by middle age, cells slow their aging.  They've found dating a cells age is difficult because its chronological and physical age are seldom the same.  Due to this, scientists are now looking at its age based on functionality rather than actual age.

The issue is the length of the telomeres the scientists are examining.  When a cell ages, the telomeres shorten and fray but research indicates the more different exercises a person participates in, the slower these telomeres fray keeping them younger.  This appears to be especially true for the 40 to 65 age group.

Researchers have discovered that the more you exercise the younger your body will be.  It can gain up to 9 years compared to those who do not exercise who and are the same age. The exact mechanics of why this happens is not yet known.

As for the outside, exercise also provides help.  Around the age of 35, people begin to loose muscle mass, and gain fat but exercise helps keep muscle lean, maintains a high metabolism and keeps your weight down.  It also creates myokines which helps keep skin looking young.  Myokines are proteins released by muscles during exercise.  So exercise, means less bone pain, less bone loss, fewer wrinkles, and more mobility as one ages. 

In addition, other studies indicate that exercise can decrease the amount of inflammation a person experiences. They do recommend a person avoid extreme exercise because that can cause inflammation but participating in moderate exercise 20 to 30 minutes each day for a total of about 150 minutes per week is the best. 

Exercise is also great because it can reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, the risk of diabetes, improve sleep, and it stimulates the hippocampus which increases memory.

All the reasons one should continue to exercise as long as one physically can.  Let me know what you think.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Classification of Snow Flakes

Winter, Snowflake, Snow, Cold  Most of us were raised with the saying that every snow flake is unique and that no two are the same.  I was raised with that saying but I couldn't swear how true it was because I spent most of my first twenty odd years living in warm climates where it never snowed.

I finally learned more about snow when I moved to Alaska the first time and had to learn to drive on slippery roads, shove my car out from under a ton of snow, and learned never to park on the street because snow plows just piled the snow they moved off the street.

A snowflake starts as a speck of dust or pollen floating on a cloud.  As it falls, water begins to attach itself to the seed and freezes forming into a hexagonal shape. As it travels to the ground, more vapor condenses forming the arms until the traditional snowflake shape is formed.

According to an article I read on the internet will looking up mathematical information, I discovered that no two snow flakes are alike but they are similar enough to be classified as one of 35 shapes.  They can be column crystals or long thin crystals, plane crystals or the nice flat ones like in the picture, some are a combination of column and plane crystals while others are rimmed snow crystals.

The above are more general classifications but some of the shapes can be subdivided into more specific types such as needle type crystals or sector type crystals.  This link leads to an infographic on the 35 snowflake shapes. With the improvement of microscopes and crystallography techniques, scientists have been able to divide snow flakes into 121 categories.

The shape of the snowflake depends on the temperature and humidity of  the surrounding air.  The simpler shapes form with lower humidity while those formed at higher humidity are more complex.  As far as temperature goes, the higher temperatures result in the column shapes while the lower temperatures produce flakes that are flatter and more circular in shape.

It doesn't matter the shapes are always hexagonal whether a column or six armed shape.

Let me know what you think.  I love to hear from readers.  Have a great day. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Uses of Yogurt Outside of Cooking.

Berry, Cream, Creamy, Dairy  Many of us eat yogurt.  We have it with our granola, eat it as part of our Indian cooking, even drink it but how many of us use it outside of the kitchen.  I've used it so many ways in the kitchen myself and love it but I've never used it in other ways.

It can be used as a beauty product. If you smear a layer over your face and leave it there 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing it off, it will leave your face in much better condition because it contians lactic acid which is actually a alpha-hydroxyl acid.  This type of acid is good for the skin, helping to bring clarity.

It is also suggested that if you suffer from psoriasis, smoothing plain yogurt over the effected areas and leaving for 30 minutes helps soothe the skin.

If you run out of conditioner, use plain Greek yogurt instead.  Rub it in, leave for 3 minutes before rinsing out.   You can also use yogurt in a scalp massage, where you massage it in, leave 3 minutes before rinsing out.  If you mix 1 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons each of virgin olive oil and honey, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, mix well, apply to hair especially at the ends and let set under a hot towel for 25 minutes before rinsing in cool water.

If you take the liquid that accumulates on top of the yogurt (whey), mix it with a little ground oatmeal or almonds, apply to face, let dry, then wash off.  This mask helps exfoliate the dead cells off the face.  If you prefer a body scrub, mix equal parts of yogurt and sugar, rub it in a circular motion over your body, then rinse. 

Since yogurt contains zinc, it can be applied to any sunburned area, allow to set for 20 minutes and rinse off.  It helps soothe the burned areas.  Another use is to apply to acne, let set for 30 minutes, then rinse off. 

Yogurt can be added directly to bathwater before soaking in the mixture for 30 minutes.  When done, rinse off, dry off, for nice skin.

Lets move from beauty to practical uses of yogurt.  It can be used to clean tarnished brass.  Apply it straight onto the brass and the lactic acid eats away the tarnish.  Once the yogurt is dry, rinse it off and you'll have nice shiny brass once more.  In addition, it can be used to clean copper pans, sinks, or other copper items.  Apply yogurt, let set till green, and rinse clean.

One thing about yogurt is its live probiotics which help a person be more regular and helps avoid constipation.  Only yogurt with live cultures aid the body in this way. 

Just a few uses of yogurt outside of the kitchen that most people are unaware of.  Have a good day and let me know what you think. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Uses For Oatmeal Other Than At Breakfast.

Berries, Bowl, Breakfast, Food, Fruit  Oatmeal is something I've had for breakfast over the years.  I usually have it cooked with dried fruit or I allow it to soak in milk overnight for the next morning.  It can be used in other ways just like tea bags, and left over coffee grounds.

It is said if you cover acne with  cooked oatmeal that has been cooled, it can get rid of it.  Be sure to let it set on the acne for several minutes before rinsing off.  In addition, cold oatmeal placed on a burn is said to help it heal.

Don't have any baking soda around for to remove smells from the refrigerator, use oatmeal instead.   People swear if you use oatmeal in ashtrays, it helps to get rid the smell of smoke.

If you grind half a cup of oatmeal in the blender before adding 1/4 cup of milk and a couple tablespoons of honey to make a paste you can use on a sunburn for 20 minutes to get rid of the the itch and it gets rid of irritated skin.  You can also add a cup of ground up oatmeal to your bathwater to sooth your sunburned skin.

The same bath water recipe can be used to sooth the skin of your dog.  Place your dog in the oatmeal water, pour the water over its skin, and dry the dog off after you take him out of the bathwater without rinsing him.

Mix 2 tablespoons of ground up oatmeal with one teaspoon of baking soda and enough water to make a paste.  Spread the paste on your clean, dried face for 10 minutes before rinsing off with cool water.  This a nice face mask.  On the other hand if you use equal parts of ground up oatmeal and baking soda, it makes a wonderful dry shampoo to add body to your hair between washes.

Make your own safe modeling substance out of equal parts of oatmeal and flour, and enough water to make a "clay"  it stays moist for hours but does harden overnight.  You can use food coloring to create a rainbow of colored "clay".

If you place dry oatmeal on spilled oil, it soaks it up nicely so its easier to clean.  In addition oat flour can be used to thicken soups or add oat flakes to your meat loaf.

I hope you found some new ways to use oatmeal in your regular life, other than for breakfast.  Have a great day.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Russian Presence in California.

 Most people know the Russians established a presence in Alaska long before gold was discovered.  They came to this state to obtain furs which resulted in Russia building numerous posts for the fur trade.

Unfortunately, the Alaskan climate was not good for growing enough food to support its colonists and the animals trapped for the fur trade began declining.

So in the early 1800's, Russia established a post in California to grow grains for its northern populations in Alaska and to establish a fur trade.  After a search, the Russians selected Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco for its amenities and protection from the Spanish to start their colony.  In 1812, 25 Russians and 80 Aleuts arrived to build the settlement.  The Aleuts brought their skin covered kayaks with them to fish in the sea and to help build a settlement similar to the one found in Sitka.

On August 30, 1812, a special religious service to commemorate the completion of the stockade. They used redwood for constructing the stockade and other buildings. Although between 20 and 40 cannons were installed, the stockade was still considered a commercial not a military venture.  It was named Ross Fortress.  In the following years, the Russians added a chapel, store houses, etc to make it more of a town.

In addition, a windmill, cattle yard, bakery, thrashing floor, cemetery, farm buildings were built while an orchard and vegetable garden were added.  Everyone in the area worked for the Russian American Company.  Although, they were able to hunt animals on an island about 30 miles away, the wild life population dropped during the same time period.

Unfortunately, the amount of grain the Russians hoped to raise for its Alaskan colonies never meet their expectations.  Between the infertile soil, the fog, gophers and mice, they were unable to raise large wheat crops. Fun fact: The amount of barley and wheat in private plots out produced those run by the company.

This caused the Russians to establish two more colonies in the area in the hopes that growing conditions were better but wheat crops never met expectations.  On the other hand raising stock was much more successful so they could send shipments of wool, tallow, hides, salt beef, and butter were sent to Alaska and other destinations.

By 1839, the Russian American company decided to abandon Fort Ross because the sea otter population had declined significantly, the agricultural side could not meet the expectations of the headquarters. Even the shipbuilding industry was not profitable enough for the company.

Alexander Rotchev was charged with selling Fort Ross.  He approached the British, the Spanish, the French, the Mexicans before finding a buy in Captain Sutter, a Mexican Citizen. He purchased the fort but not the land it sat on because the land still belonged to Mexico.  It appears he is the same man who built the mill where gold was discovered a few years later that started a massive influx of people to California.

Have a good day.  I hope you enjoyed this brief history of the Russian influx into California.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

11 Weird Citrus Fruits.

Fruit, Food, Citrus, Pomelo, GrapefruitYears ago, I taught school on a small remote Alaskan Island, accessible by helicopter except for a few weeks when the ocean ice became thick enough to land small planes on.

Although, I'm a math teacher, I had to teach language arts.  Since the island is so remote, most students did not get a chance to taste anything more exotic than oranges or tangerines.

I had a friend send any weird fruit he could find at the local grocery store, then priority mail it out to me for my students.  This way, they had a chance to see something out of the ordinary and they had a chance to taste these odd fruits.

Some of the citrus fruits on the strangest fruit list made it out to the island but many didn't.

1. Buddist Hand or Fingered Citron is a yellow fruit with long finger like tendrils off a central bud that looks like an alien hand.  This seedless fruit emits a lemony scent when cut open.  It does not have juice or pulp but is filled with a pith. It is not edible in the traditional sense but its rind can be candied or used in baking.  It is also considered one of the oldest citrus fruits believed to have traveled from India to China and Japan where they are displayed for good luck.

2. Yuzu is a citrus with bumpy skin and hailing from Japan.  This Vitamin C (three times richer than lemons) fruit tastes like a cross between lemon, mandarin and grapefruit and has caught the imagination of chefs.  Although not as popular in the United States, it has been used for centuries in Asia, it is used in Ponzu sauce often used in Japanese cooking.

3. Pomelos look as if they are a huge grapefruit but they do not have any of the grapefruits bitterness.  This was one of the fruits sent out to me. I remember  it was much sweeter than expected.  It can be used in salads, marinades, cocktails and salsas.

4. Tangelos which are a mix of a Tangerine and a Pomelo or Grapefruit. They are about the same size as oranges but have a sweet juice with a tart after taste.  A couple of these were sent out.  The kids thought they were weird oranges but enjoyed them.

5. Finger limes come from the rain forests of Australia and are known as the caviar of citrus because they are filled with pearls of tart flavor.  Their skin ranges in color from green to black. The fruit is about the size of a gherkin filled with individual globules bursting with a lemon lime flavor and are used in salads, or toppings for other things such as shrimp.  

6. Calamansi limes which look more like oranges due to their shape and orange skins but are quite small.  Its flavor is a mix of lemon, kumquat, and lime.They are used in Filipino cooking.  I've only seen pictures of this particular fruit.

7. Meyer lemons are slightly smaller than regular lemons but are prized by chefs for their sweeter, less acidic flavor. They were brought to the United States back in 1908 by Frank Meyer.   I have heard of them but I've never seen any for sale at the local stores.

8. Bergamont and I am not talking about the herb used to flavor things.  This fruit looks like a regular grapefruit with clear pulp but has begun surpassing blood oranges in its use by chefs.  It originated in Italy as a cross between a sour orange and a lime.  Its flesh is used in marmalade's and jams while it skins are used in pastries.  Chefs love its distinctive flavor.

9. Kumquats are the size of an olive and look like a small oval citrus fruit. whose juice is both tangy and sweet.  It is eaten whole but can be used in salads, jams, or marmalade's. I actually ended up with a couple out on the island.  The students couldn't believe they were so small and so orange. 

10. Blood limes.  yes, you read that right.  I have never heard of these before today.  They are a cross between red limes and the Ellendale Mandarin, specifically created in Australia as a salt resistant crop.  It produces fruit in the winter.  The outside is usually red while the interior ranges from  a yellowish orange to a reddish tint.  It's pulp is said to be full of flavor that bursts in your mouth and is sweeter than standard limes. 

11.  Ugli Fruit or Jamaican Tangelo has a thick wrinkled peel that hides a sweet interior.  They were discovered growing wild in Jamaica about 80 years ago.  One of these was sent out and the kids loved it after they got over the funny skin.  This was one of the fruits they wanted more of.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Taking Wax Buildup off of Linoleum Without Harsh Chemicals.

Floor, Wood, Hardwood Floors  A couple years ago, the guy who repainted my apartment began cleaning the wax buildup off my kitchen floor.  The buildup made my floor grey and dingy.

He started it but only got a small area finished before he had to move on to another apartment.  He did it because I know him well and he thought he'd do something nice while he repainted the house.

So he completed a small area and moved on.  The area was small enough to cover with a small throw rug but I'm kind of OCD in certain areas and I can't stand knowing there is a small white area among the grey kitchen floor, even when covered with a rug.

So I had to work on getting the rest of the wax build up off.  I hate relying on chemical substances to do the job so I checked the internet.  Most of the recipes I discovered contained ammonia or used vinegar but required the use of a scrub brush.  I hate ammonia since its fumes can be dangerous and I am scared to use a scrub brush for fear of scratching the original linoleum.

I found three possible recipes that sound safe but require a scrub brush.  One is using club soda directly on the wax buildup, let soak, then scrub before wiping off.  The second is to mix 1 gallon of vinegar with 1 cup cream of tarter, pour on wax, let soak, scrub and wipe off.  Unfortunately, cream of tarter is difficult to get out here.  The third requires the use of Isopropyl Alcohol mixed in a 1 to 3 ratio with water, pour on, soak, scrub and wipe off.  The final method requires good ventilation.

 I don't like the scrubbing part so  I resorted to using boiling water, paper towels, and a scraper designed for I'm not sure what but not for this.  I pour boiled water on paper towels placed over the area I'm interested in getting rid of wax build up from. I let it set for a while and then scrape the softened wax off.  It is slow but I don't have to worry about trying to ventilate the fumes from my house.

I did find a couple recipes which require a person to mop using a solution either vinegar or baking soda mixed with warm water.  They say if one or two applications doesn't take it all off, scrape the remaining bit off.  I still prefer my plain hot water with patience and a bit of elbow grease.

I'd love to hear from others who have experience taking wax buildup off linoleum floors using safe ingredients.  Let me know please.  Have a good day.

Monday, October 16, 2017

10 Fact about Hot Air Balloons.

Hot Air Balloons, Blue, Sky, Sunshine  One morning, many years ago when I lived in New Mexico, I was fortunate enough to crest a hill, just in time to see numerous hot air balloons silently gliding across the sky.  I will never forget the breath taking site.

I can assure you, I will never be up in one.  I love the videos of the view but I am extremely scared of heights.  I can't even step on a chair without trembling.

I have no idea why I'm scared of heights, I just am.  On the other hand, I love watching balloons from the ground and yes I wish I had the guts to take a ride.  Maybe someday, I'll get the guts up to do it.

Did you know, hot air balloons have been around since the mid 1700's when a couple of men sewed cotton cloth to paper to create the balloon part.  The first few went up above 1000 feet but the first manned hot air balloon flight carrying a duck, a sheep and a rooster occurred in 1783 in front of the Kind of France. The first human flight happened just the same year. The first transatlantic flight took place only 2 years later.

Fun facts about hot air balloons:

1.  Louis XVI wanted to use condemned criminals as the first pilots because if they died, he considered it no big deal.  He was talked out of it.  A scientist and aristocrat managed to fly for 20 minutes in the first human flight in 1873.

2.  The scientist decided to be the first man to fly across the English Channel using a new type of balloon filled with a mixture of half helium, half hot air. Unfortunately, 30 minutes into the flight, the balloon exploded making him the first fatality.

3. Champagne after flights came about because balloons landed in their fields scaring the livestock or smashing crops.  The champagne helped sooth tempers. 

4. In 1808, two love sick suitors held a balloon duel over Paris rather than the standard duel at 20 paces.  The balloons took off and at the appropriate height.  Each man fired a blunderbuss.  One man died when his balloon floundered and fell to the ground while the other landed safely.  It is assumed the survivor won the hand of the lady.

5.  In 1794, during the French Revolution, a balloon spend 9 hours in the air with an observer who wrote down his views of the battle and regularly dropped his observations to the ground.  No one knows if the information helped the French win the Battle.

6. During the early years of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln authorized the creation of a balloon corps used to observe enemy movements up to 15 miles away. The Confederates made their own balloon out of dress silk but it was captured by the Union. The Union quit using balloons because they were easy to shoot down due to their size.

7. From 1800 to 1900, circuses regularly featured smoke balloons which were balloons without a basket.  A daredevil with a parachute attached himself to the balloon, the balloon was held over a hot fire until it was filled with hot air or smoke and released to rise up into the atmosphere.  When the balloon reached its highest point, the daredevil released himself from the balloon, opened the parachute and floated down to the amazement of the audience.

8. In 2010, an entrepreneur started a service with glass bottom baskets so people could see directly below its location. Its private but there is some talk of allowing the public to use it again.

9. Hot air balloons have no way to steer so they go where ever the wind sends them.  They cannot be used in rain because the hot air can cause the droplets to boil and possibly destroy its fabric.

10.  The longest flight went from Japan to Canada.

I hope someday I get up the guts to ride in one but I don't know if I'll manage it.  I am just scared of heights.  I hope you enjoyed these few facts.  Have a great day.


Friday, October 13, 2017

What Do You Know About T.V. Dinners.

Food, Salmon, Seeded Mustard, Dinner  When I was in my teens, I did a lot of babysitting.  The people I babysat for always left a tv dinner I could pop in and cook later in the evening, after I put the kids to bed.

It was a treat because my family never ate TV dinners.  We couldn't afford them for one thing and it was cheaper to feed the lot of us by making it all from scratch.

There is a bit of controversy over who is responsible for creating TV dinners.  I'd say based on what I've read, it was a series of events which lead to this item becoming part of American Society. 

Clarence Birdseye, the man whose name if found on frozen foods, created the first real system for freezing foods. In 1923, he figured out a way to package and flash freeze fresh foods so they could be sold to consumers.  By 1949, the Bernstein Brothers were selling frozen dinners in the compartmentalized aluminum trays in the Philadelphia area.  But it was the Swanson company who made the biggest strides in the field.

In 1954, Swanson's had 260 tons of  Thanksgiving left overs they needed to figure out how to use.  They asked their workers for suggestions and one man had just seen the compartmentalized aluminum trays used by Pan American Airways to serve food.  He made the suggestion to the Swanson brothers back in Nebraska so they packed the food, prepared an advertising campaign based on television and sold over 25 million dinners at 98 cents for each one.

In the 1960's Swanson's expanded their line to include breakfast and lunch.  In 1973, they introduced the Hungry Man line designed to appeal to the male population.

Now for some facts about TV dinners.

1. The term TV Dinner is actually a registered trademark.

2. The tray was modeled after the trays used by the airlines.

3. The box containing the first TV dinners were designed to look like television sets complete with dials and volume control.

4. When the TV dinner was first released, television was so new, there was only three to four hours of programming available to watch. It usually ran in the late afternoon and early evening, during dinner time.

5. Up until 1960, TV dinners came without desserts.

6  Since 1987, the TV dinner tray has joined Fonzie's jacket at the National Museum of American History.

7. September 10th is National TV dinner day.

8. Swanson stopped calling them TV dinners in 1962 but the name sticks.

I hope you've enjoyed this small look at the history of TV dinners.  I'd love to hear from you.  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Girl Scout Cookies

Thin Mint, Homemade, Grasshopper, Food  I wondered what the first commercially marketed cookie was but got side tracked when I ran across some history on Girl Scout Cookies. I have bought them in the past even though we do not have any girl scout troops in the village.

Usually one of the teachers has a niece, sister, cousin, or other family member who is selling cookies so they place a sign up sheet in the teachers think tank for people to place orders.  They do charge a bit more because they have to be shipped out.

I love Tagalogs while others in my family love the thin mints.  I think everyone has their favorite.  So how long have the Girl Scouts been selling cookies?  For longer than I expected.

Girl Scouts began selling cookies back in 1917 as a way to fund their activities but the cookies were made by the girls and their mothers. 

In 1922, the Girl Scouts published a sugar cookie recipe in the groups magazine to be made by girl scouts for sale as a way of financing their activities.  One could argue this was the first cookie sold by Girl Scouts.  It was suggested these cookies be sold for 25 to 35 cents per dozen back then.  Each dozen were wrapped in wax paper bags and sealed with a seal before being sold door to door.

In 1934, The greater council of Philadelphia arranged to have their cookies commercially made for sales while a year later, the Greater Federation of Girl Scouts in New York had the words "Girl Scout Cookies" printed on the box of commercially made cookies they sold. In 1936, the National council began licensing bakeries to produce commercial cookies.

Due to shortages of sugar and other baking supplies, girl scouts could no longer bake cookies so they switched to calendars until the end of rationing after the war. By 1948, 29 licensed bakers produced enough cookies to meet increased demand.

In 1951, Girl Scout cookies came in three basic flavors, sugar, mint, and sandwich. At the time, cities expanded and suburbs grew up around cities. The Girl Scouts in the suburbs set up at shopping malls to sell their cookies.

In the 1960's the number of bakers dropped to 14 but more and more cookies were being sold due to the children born right after World War II were joining girl scouts.  In 1978, the number of bakers dropped to four to ensure lower prices and quality while all the boxes featured the same designs showing girl scouts in action.

As time passed, the number of bakers dropped to two.  Boxes and logos were redesigned and sales continued to grow. Girl scout cookies are now kosher and there is even a gluten free version being offered. 

I admit, I was one of those girls who went door to door to sell cookies.  I never sold enough to receive any award nor did I go much past the age of 15 due to moving overseas but I still buy the cookies, toss them in the freezer, and enjoy them through out the year, especially the thin mints.

Now for the Fun Facts.

1. There are only two licensed bakeries who make official Girl Scout Cookies.

2. They may make up to eight types of cookies but thin mints, peanut butter filled sandwich cookies, and shortbread cookies must be made every year.  This is one reason the varieties change from year to year.  Not all are made every year.

3. Each bakery names its own cookies which is why the same cookies have different names in different parts of the country.

4. Girl Scout cookies are sold for different prices in different parts of the country because the councils are the ones who set the price.

5. Thin mints are the best selling cookie of all the varieties.

6.  The girls sell over 700 million dollars of cookies each year.

I hope you enjoyed this quick look at history.  let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Its Time for Auroras Again.

Aurora, Northern Lights, Borealis, Night  October is when we start seeing the Aurora Borealis here in Alaska.  You wander out around midnight or one, look up to see beautiful green or pink slights dancing across the sky. Sometimes, they swirl but most of the time they dance.

In the bush of Alaska, I've heard people say that the aurora will dance if you whistle.  I don't know if the belief is true only because I've always seen it dance.

The Sami people up in Northern Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia believe the northern lights are the souls of those who have passed on.  They are respectful of the lights whenever they see them.  They have a variation on the local belief of whistling.  They believe if you whistle, you bring the souls closer and closer until you are taken away.

Another belief in Scandinavia in regard to the northern lights is the dancing green lights represent huge schools of herring swimming by in the sea.  When fishermen saw the lights, they felt they would have good catches when they fished. 

In Sweden, lots of displays of the aurora predicted good yields of crops the following year while the Norwegians thought the lights were the spirits of old maids dancing across the sky and waving at the watchers.  On the other hand the Finnish believed that magical arctic foxes used their tails to spew snow up to the sky.  The Finnish word for the Aurora translates as "fox fires."

If you check out the legends in Asia, you'll discover the Chinese believed the lights were caused by dragons spewing fire at each other while they fought in the sky.  On the other hand, both the Chinese and Japanese believe a child conceived under the northern lights will be blessed all their lives.

This last may explain why so many Japanese fly to Fairbanks, Alaska to go to Chena Hot Springs to view the aurora in the winter and spring.  Its a popular destination.

The Scottish are reputed to believe the lights represent the clans fighting and spilling blood due to the reddish lights seen there.  In other places like France and Italy, the appearance of the northern lights signal war, plague, or other bad occurrence.

I never think about the legends when I see the lights.  I just stop and stare at their beauty and hope they last a good amount of time before fading into the night sky.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

14 Interesting Facts about Oreos

Cake, Pastry, Sweet, Sugar, Unhealthy  I remember those commercials growing up. The ones where someone would always twist the cookies apart to eat the filling first, then the crunchy cookie sides.

I seldom ate them because my mother did not buy cookies.  Instead we made them but occasionally I'd visit a friend whose mother served them as a snack after school.

The other day I discovered there are quite a few different varieties of Oreos including one with a chocolate hazelnut filling.  Have you ever wondered when Oreos first made their appearance?  They've been around for over 100 years.

The story begins in 1898 when several bakery companies merged to form the National Biscuit Company now known as Nabisco.  Their first successful entry is the box of Animal Crackers just four years later but in 1912, they began production and marketing of Oreos.  They successfully filed a trademark on these cookies in 1913.

Apparently, these cookies were originally released in 1912 but were sold at 30 cents per pound rather than per package as they do now.  It appears the first package made its appearance to a grocer in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The cookie in 1912 is quite similar to the current design dating from 1952.  It was called the Oreo Biscuit when it was originally released but the company changed the name to the Oreo Sandwich in 1921 before they changed the name to the Oreo Creme Sandwich in 1937.  The cookie was renamed with the current name of "The Oreo Chocolate Sandwich cookie" in 1974.

No one is sure where the name came from.  There are lots of different theories but no one knows for sure.  Now for 10 interesting facts about the cookie.

1. Since 1912, Nabisco has manufactured enough cookies to circle the globe 312 times if lined up end to end.  If you stacked the cookies you could travel from the earth to the moon 5 times.

2.  The original filling recipe called for pork fat as part of the recipe.  This lead to problems with being classified as kosher but in 1998 Nabisco took steps to change that so all Oreos are now kosher and the packages carry the symbol.

3.  In 1912, when Oreos hit the market, there were two flavors, original and lemon meringue.  The original proved to be more popular so Nabisco discontinued the lemon meringue flavor in the 1920's.

4. Since 1912, over 450 billion cookies have been sold world wide.

5.  For its 100th birthday, a special birthday oreo with a cake flavored filling and sprinkles.  Over the years, they've created other flavors such as green tea, blueberry ice creme, root bear float, caramel apple, and other flavors created to appeal to consumers in different countries.

6.  Oreos are sold in over 100 countries.

7.  The Hydrox cookies looks like a copy cat cookie but it was actually released four years prior to Oreos.

8. There was an oreo breakfast cereal produced from 1998 to 2007 but it can still be purchased in Korea.

9.  The cookies have a 71:29 ratio of cookies to cream but the double stuff one is only 1.86 or 1.67 times as much filling, not twice as indicated by the label.  It depends on whose article you read as to the figure given.

10. The cookie has a pattern of 12 dots, 12 flowers, 12 dashes, and 90 ridges in each one.

11. Nation Oreo day is celebrated on March 6th

12.  Each cookie takes 59 minutes to make from start to finish.

13.  A portion of West 15th  Avenue between 9th and 10th avenue in New York City was renamed "Oreo Way" to celebrate the fact the first cookie was produced at the factory there.

14. When Oreos were originally introduced in 1912, they were one of three.  The other two, Mother Goose Biscuits and Veronese Biscuits were never as popular.

I hope you found this interesting.  Have a great day.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Harmful Skin Mixtures.

Make Up, Rouged Face, Close, Eye, Pink  I hope the title grabbed your attention.  I bet you think that all makeup sold on the market is safe. It is for the most part but there are a few things that are not.  So many fewer than say back in Elizabethan times.

Many of the toxic elements of Elizabethan makeup came about due to the idea of the perfect women.  She had to have snow white skin, bright eyes, red lips and cheeks, with pale hair.  This is a time when chemistry is not very advanced so chemists used what they had.

Lets start with how they managed to get the extremely pale skin.  The desired shade was one of white or as white as possible.  One way to get it was to mix white lead with vinegar so it could be spread over the face or neck.  This was the preferred method of nobility if they could afford it.  Other choices included alum mixed with tin ash, or cooked egg white with talc or sulfur.  

Red lips and cheeks could be obtained by using madder, cochineal, or ochre based compounds but the most popular was vermilion, a mercuric sulfide, as it could be used in a thick layer.   Since many of the ingredients used caused skin damage, there was a whole set of mixtures used to treat blemishes,  spots, freckles, and acne which could contain lemon juice, rosewater, mercury, alum, honey, or eggshells. 

In fact, washing ones face with mercury was quite popular as it provided a face peal that made the face soft.  At the same time, women used eye drops containing Belladonna to create the desired bright eyes.  In addition, they lined their eyes with a kohl containing powdered antimony. Of course women also plucked their eyebrows but they also plucked up to one inch of hair to move the hair line upwards for the desired high brow look.

As for the blonde or reddish gold hair, dyes were not very advanced so women used a variety of ingredients including urine to lighten hair.  Since it was difficult to obtain the ideal color, many women shaved their heads and wore wigs instead.

As you can see, many ingredients used then poisoned and killed their user.  Today, one of the fashion ideals is people getting henna tattoos rather than regular tattoos because they are temporary and wear off after a while.  I've gotten them in the past because I think they are cool but you have to make sure the person applying one uses regular henna.

There is a "Black henna" on the market that is often used to provide darker almost black tattoos rather than the dark brown.  This mixture contains paraphenylenediamine or PPD which is a very toxic ingredient.  This ingredient is used in permanent hair dyes but its levels are controlled.  When used in black henna mixtures, the levels often exceed safe levels because they want to speed up the time it takes the color to develop. 

Unfortunately, PPD can cause chemical burns on the skin and lead to potential allergenic reactions.  Not everyone has reactions but its better not to use it.  How do you know the difference?  Regular henna is an orangish brown appearance.  If it appears black, don't use it.

Let me know what you think.  Have a good day.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fun Goverment Assignment.

Businessman, Cartoons, Training, Lecture As you know, I am a teacher.  I had a column all ready to go but I got called in to help out with the government class and that activity sparked a whole new entry so I am running late because of it.

The small government class is made up of mostly English Language Learners whose teacher believes in providing them a chance to practice their English.

She divided the students into three groups. Their assignment - They had to create a presentation designed to convince people of adopting a certain candy as the national candy.

The students chose Hershey's, Twix, and Skittles.  It was fun listening to the students as they provided a bit of history on each candy.  Apparently both Twix and Skittles originated in the United Kingdom before being introduced to the United States. 

Of course, Hershey's originated in the United States.  Most people know this, especially if they live in the area around Hershey, PA.  The town where Hershey's chocolate is made and has been made for a very long time.  One interesting fact students mentioned had to do with Hershey's being the chocolate sent overseas to the servicemen during World War II.

The group who favored Skittles, had the best presentation. They focused on the question of "Which candy should become the national candy?" best  They related as much as they could to the history of this country, its diversity, and the states.  They constantly reminded us of the correlations between the candy and our country.

The other two provided wonderful histories but they were not reminding us of the reason for the presentation so they never really told us why it should be adopted.  Still, they all tried.  Most students find making presentations difficult, I think this was a great way of easing them into practicing this skill.

I enjoyed myself.  I think if I'd been able to do an assignment like this when I took government in high school, I would have enjoyed it so much more.  I might have also learned a bit more because I had a chance to understand governmental processes more.

Let me know what you think.  Have a great day.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Origins of Three Sweet Desserts.

Mixed Berries, Pavlova, Pie, Cake, Sweet  When I was in Finland this past summer, I ended up at a party hosted by a group of people from New Zealand.  The dessert they provided goes by the unlikely name of Pavlova.

The pavlova is a dessert consisting of a base made up of a baked sweetened meringue, topped with fruit and whipped creme.

I remember trying to make the dessert when I was a teenager living in Australia.  It was hard to bake it just right because if the oven was too hot, it overcooked, too low, it under cooked and if someone stomped, it died.

It requires egg whites, sugar, corn starch, and a bit of vinegar whipped into a stiff meringue that is placed on a piece of parchment paper in a circle.  It is then baked for 1.5 hours at around 250 degrees. The trick is to leave it in the oven when the time is done and let it cool completely before opening the oven door.  This is the part that makes it a difficult dessert to make.

According to what I understand, this beautiful dessert was created to celebrate the visit of world famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who visited both Australia and New Zealand in 1920. Both countries have claimed its creation but it appears recipes for it were published in New Zealand Cookbooks and magazines before the same recipes appeared in Australia.

Either way, the dessert is extremely sweet, extremely delicious and extremely addicting.

The second is the Baked Alaska which as far as I know is not a regular dessert served in the state of Alaska.  Baked Alaska is ice cream encased in either pastry or meringue.  There is a record from 1802 showing Thomas Jefferson served ice cream wrapped in pastry for dessert at a state dinner in the White House.

Researchers have found a recipe called Baked Alaska Apple pie dating from 1855 in which the author has cooks add ice cream to the apple pie before placing the top crust on it and baking it.  Between then and 1900, there are records of a variety of desserts similar to the dish we call Baked Alaska but none carried that name until the Fannie Farmer Cookbook of 1896.

She has the cook prepare a meringue which is put over a cake topped by ice cream before browning it under the grate.  Originally it used a walnut spice cake for the base, topped with banana ice cream, and covered all over by the meringue.  The reality is that no one is absolutely sure who created the dessert and who named it.

The final dessert is the ever popular trifle, a layered dessert with cake, fruit, pudding, and whipped cream.  Early versions of this dessert resembled fools, a dessert of pureed fruit mixed with creme.  The two names were often used interchangeably to refer to the same dessert.  In fact, trifle developed as a way to use up old cake.

There are records from the mid 1700's show that alcohol, cookies or cake, and custard was combined to create trifles served in a special trifle bowl.  These bowls were prized possessions of many a housewife.  By 1751, recipes started appearing in various cookbooks.

Although most trifles now a days are nonalcoholic, alcohol in the form of sherry, Madeira or brandy were the chosen flavors traditionally used in this dessert. Over time, arguments have arisen over the type of jelly, whether the custard should be made from scratch or from a powder, etc.

The only trifle I've ever eaten was made by a family aunt who used lady fingers, vanilla pudding, fruit, and whipped cream on top of it all.  I've never had the alcoholic version nor have I ever eaten the traditional English version.

Let me know what you think. Have a good day.

It is said the name was inspired by the purchase of Alaska in 1867. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

3 Favorite Flavors of Rice.

I discovered three types of rice I absolutely love to cook with.  You can find them in the store if your store carries Lotus Foods Brand.  I don't normally like highlighting specific brands of food but they are the only people I know who carry these rices and which I can find easily both locally, well in Fairbanks, and on Amazon.

First is Madagascar Pink, a rice whose outside is a beautiful pink.
The grains are not all pink but ranges from light to dark and cooks up nicely. Although the hull is partially milled, the taste reminds me of a delicate flavored hearty rice. 

I realize its almost a contradiction but its really not.  Its like comparing homemade bread fresh out of the oven to store bought bread. 

The rice is grown in the Lake Alaota region of Madagascar.  Lake Alaota is the largest fresh water lake in Madagascar filled with marshes, etc and its the largest rice growing area in the country.

The rice takes cooks in about the same amount of time as white rice but is chewier and is just as easy to cook.  I don't measure things out, but I go with having about 1 inch of water above the rice, place on low heat until cooked.  I've used it in stir fried rice, plain, and any other way I can think of.

It is high in manganese and molybdenum and is considered a good daily source of magnesium, phosphorous and complex carbohydrate.

Second is Bhutan rice which is a darker red shade than the Madagascar Pink.
As you can see, it also has more red colored grains.  It is grown at 8000 feet elevation in Bhutan where its been grown for the past few centuries.

It is just as delightful as the Madagascar pink when cooked but carries slightly more color when fully cooked.  In Bhutan it is often served with mushrooms and hot chilies but in the United States it is more often served with flavorful foods such as pork, duck, or eggplant.

This rice is one of the few exports from Bhutan because white rice is replacing its use there. The rice takes only 20 minutes to cook.  It is high in magnesium, manganese, molybdenum and phosphorus and is delicious when eaten alone or with something else.

The last type of rice on my most favorite list is Jade Pearl Rice.

The grains are small and round with a pale jade green color even when cooked.  The pearled rice is infused with an extract of bamboo which gives it, its green color.

The specific variety of bamboo used to provide the green color and add to the flavor is said to provide health benefits including extending one's life.  

In 20 minutes it cooks into a nicely lightly sticky rice that quite different from most other rices.  The descriptions say it tastes like bamboo or a green tea but to me, the flavor complemented the coconut milk based curry I served with it.

I use all three rices in place of white rice with dahls, coconut milk based curries, regular curries, etc at dinner and for the left overs in my lunch.

Unfortunately, you cannot get most of these rices in bulk unless you live in a large enough place with huge Asian stores.  Due to my location, I end up ordering these rices via Amazon in the smaller sizes.  I go though them quickly because the rices are wonderful and I prefer them to the more standard white rice.

Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear if you've ever had these rices and what you thought about them.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Once Upon A Time

Wallpaper, Background, Night, Blue, Girl  Once upon a time, the way most fairy tales begin and the title of a television show, soon to start its seventh season.

I run about one year behind because I live in a place where the over the air choices are limited, no cable and I'd rather pay for basic internet than for Satellite because the channels I want come with the most expensive package.

I'd heard the actress playing the lead character "Emma" was leaving the show.  I was scared she'd die when I heard of the final battle with the visions she had.  I hate seeing characters die in any show because I have such a soft heart.  I've loved the fairy tale quality of the show with all its twists and turns, its bringing in characters from various stories.

Season six was no different than in its wonderful twists and turns from previous seasons.  I love the way the evil queen - the evil part of Regina she got rid of, the Black Fairy who turned out to be Rumpelstiltskin's mother and who stole his son to raise, Aladdin, Jasmine, Jafar, and changing reality.

It twisted and turned to a musical episode with some wonderful songs, a wedding, and a change in reality to help Emma loose hope.  Hope the one thing that keeps us going.  Hope, the one thing that keeps us going through the hard times.  Hope which convinces us things will be better.

The final battle was not physical, it was of keeping the belief alive vs the one who wanted to kill it.  Henry remained hopeful until the very end, even going so far as to leave his mother with one last story.  I loved the way she came back with that first step to face her enemy for the final showdown.

She won due to her goodness and everyone got their happy ending.  The endings made my heart turn warm and glowing.  I heard there  was going to be a 7th season with a slightly different focus on Henry this time rather than Emma.

I love the way they segued into the teaser for this new season so people will want to watch more to find out why Henry and why he has a daughter.  Since I don't have access to the current season.  I am going to have to wait a full year until the series comes out on DVD so I can buy it and have a marathon session.

Yes, I still have hope that the future will allow me to do the things I want to do.  I believe it will happen.  If it doesn't, I will always hope until the day I die.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Sweet Tooth.

Elephant, African Bush Elephant  Over the weekend, I posted a picture of an elephant asking for peppermint.  There is a story behind the request.

I've done a variety of jobs throughout my life.  Some jobs were full time, some weekends only, and some are in between everything.

At one point in my life, I worked at a Renaissance faire about two hours south of my house.  I got involved because a chance opened up and I love learning new things.

It was so cool.  I received training in improve theater which helps me in my current job.  I went from actor, to singer, to musician to being the opening act for the morning when people waited for gates to open.

I had a partner I was "married" to.  In the morning, we'd go out among the crowd, he one side, me the other.  I'd go looking for my "husband" to tell him that mother was moving in with us. I had to look for him because he'd gone out drinking the night before and never came home.

I'd harangue him about his drinking, he'd cringe.  I'd inform him about my mother moving in and he'd turn pale.  We had a grand old time as the saying goes.  It was so much fun.  Other times, we'd set up by a business and play or sing to bring people in. 

One of the attractions at the faire, one kids loved, were the elephants.  One elephant had a sweet tooth for peppermint candies.  If she, yes she, smelled a scent of peppermint, she'd lift her trunk and follow the aroma.  She'd follow the aroma till she found the candy.

It didn't matter who had the candy, she'd take it.  She took candy out of a child's hand.  She'd slip her trunk into a man's shirt pocket and steal it.  She LOVED peppermint.  Adults laughed when their candy was stolen, children cried but it didn't stop her.  Once she got the candy, she popped it into her mouth wrapper and all. 

The owner of the elephants moved around the country working various ren faires from January to December.  Its how he makes his living. Yes I have fond memories of those days when I'd spend the weekend camping out and working.  Someday, I'll tell you more.

Have a good day and let me know what you think.