Tuesday, October 30, 2018

7 Halloween Traditions From Around The World.

Halloween Pumpkin Thanksgiving Halloween P  As stated yesterday, Halloween is not just celebrated in the United States.  It is found in other countries but the way they celebrate, may not be the same as it is here.

1.  Ireland and Scotland is where the original Halloween is reputed to have begun as part of the Celtic festival Samhain and other rituals.

Today, they celebrate Halloween with huge bonfires, games, and a traditional fruitcake containing buttons, coins, and rings used to foretell the future.

2. In Mexico, they celebrate Dia De los Muertos, or day of the dead where they honor those who pass on.  It is believed the gates open of Heaven open at midnight on October 31, so the spirits of the children  can come visit family members for a period of 24 hours while the adults wait till November 2nd.

3.  For the past twenty something years, at the end of October, people come to Kawasaki, Japan to participate in the Kawasaki Halloween parade. It is the biggest parade in Japan but you can't just pop over to join the parade, you have to apply two months in advance so organizers have a chance to determine if you meet their strict guidelines.

4.  In the Philipines, they celebrate Pangangaluluwa, a holiday where children go from house to house, sometimes in costume, singing and saying prayers for those stuck in Purgatory. Over the years, trick or treating has invaded the celebration but people are trying hard to return to the original holidays.

5. In Poland, people celebrate Dzien Zaduszny in early November.  People travel to cemeteries across Poland to visit the graves of their relatives. On the first day, they celebrate with candles, flowers, and prayers for those who passed on while on the second day, they attend church services for the souls of the dead.

6. In Italy, people celebrate Ognissanti by placing flowers on the graves of those who have died, both family and strangers, beginning a couple of days prior to November 1st. They turn graveyards into colorful flower displays of color.  In addition, they place a red candle in the window and a setting at the table in the hopes the spirit of the departed will visit.

7.  In Germany, they hide knives so the returning spirits will not accidentally hurt themselves.  They also attend masses for the dead to remember them by.

There are many other places that celebrate a remembrance for the dead at other times of the year including one that lasts 6 months every two years.  These are the major ones found around October 31st.

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

Monday, October 29, 2018

"Trick or Treat"

Halloween Costumes, CandyIts that time of year again when visitors come to your door, expecting a treat when you open your door. I remember making the same journey when I was young.  I also remember a poem children recited at school on the days leading up to Halloween.

"Trick or Treat,
Smell my feet
Give me something good to eat!"

In some areas of this country, the tradition still goes strong but did you ever wonder why children state "Trick or Treat" when you open the door?

It appears the phrase is American in origin but stems from the European holiday of All Saints Day also known as All Hallows Day celebrated on November 1st, and All Souls day on November 2nd  while October 31st is All Hallows Eve which has morphed into Halloween in modern times.

There is a tradition in Europe dating from the 10th century where people went from house to house on All Souls day asking for gifts of food in return for praying for the souls of those who passed on.  We know it was practiced in the 14th century because it is mentioned in Chaucer's writings.

Over time, it evolved so only children went from house to house asking for gifts while disguised.  Originally it was called "souling" but in Scotland, they referred to it as "guising".  Children would recite poems, tell jokes, provide some other small entertainment before being rewarded with treats.

Now candy is expected without children providing entertainment to earn the treat.  The first recorded reference to "Trick or Treating" appears in the November 3rd issue of the  Calgary Herald.  The newspaper made comment about the young who went from door to door demanding treats.  The following day, the article commented about the young who moved things around when they didn't get their treat.

The newspaper records indicate that the new tradition of "Trick or Treating" spread across the United States from the east coast to the west coast in the 1930's.  There are comments about the young ones who would offer to protect houses from window soaping and other tricks for a small treat of candy.  In Nevada, these enterprising children were compared to the Mafia.

There are reports of bags of Halloween candy being sold in Montana in the 1930's but the same newspaper commented that many locals refused to be blackmailed into providing "protection" candy and instead shot buckshot at them for trying to soap the windows.

Eventually, it gained enough popularity that stores sell candy by the ton and children come around to collect their candy on October 31st.  Here where I live, children come through only between 4 and 7 PM.  Usually parents carrying babies armed with bags bring the whole family through to load up on delights.

No, we don't have to worry about children getting hurt out here by crazies due to it being rather isolated and the police know every family and person here.

Have a great Halloween on Wednesday night, I'd love to hear what you think.  

Friday, October 26, 2018

The History of Gimmel Rings.

Rings, Gold, Wedding, Love, Jewellery The other night, I watched a show where a jeweler had a Gimmel ring but it wasn't complete.  If you haven't heard the term before, it is a interlocking ring, also referred to as a puzzle ring.

Originally, these were made up of two plain interlocking rings called gimmel rings. Gimmel comes from the Latin word "gemellus" meaning twin.

Although the rings were interlocking, they could be separated and worn by each person.  There are two trains of thought on these.  Sometimes, there would be a ruby, emerald, or diamond set in the bands which was used to hold the rings together.

One train says the configuration made it uncomfortable to wear that way. So it would be worn separately during the exchange of vows before it was reassembled.  The other train believed the two hoops were worn by the engaged couple and once they exchanged vows, the two rings were reassembled and the bride wore it. 

Historically, these rings were given either to represent a pledge between couples although it might not lead to marriage or between men representing friendship.  There is a record of King Henry III giving a ruby and emerald gimmel set to a count to show friendship.

As time passed with the rising of better metal working techniques, enameling and gem cutting, gimmel rings became more and more elaborate.   In addition, it became possible to engrave a few words inside the rings. Instead of friendship, the rings represented either betrothal or marriage.  Eventually, the woman wore the ring as a wedding ring but in 1649 When Oliver Cromwell took power, he tried to outlaw wedding rings including gimmel rings. but never succeeded.

Beginning in the 17th century, artisans expanded the number of hoops in each gimmel ring until some could be made of twelve interlocking hoops.  It was during this time that the nick of "Puzzle Rings" came about because it was a challenge putting them back together once they'd been taken apart.  Many of the rings at this time had clasped hands holding the heart shaped hands so it looked as if the hands held the heart.

Although the two hoop gimmel rings continued being used until the nineteen century, they slowly disappeared when clergymen pushed for simpler single bands.  Eventually the single wedding band idea took over.  It appears, gimmel rings are making a reappearance.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Turnip To Pumpkin?

Jack-O-Lanterns, Lit, Pumpkins  I was watching one of the reruns of "Call the Midwife" the other night.  It was Halloween and the nuns were carving huge turnips which triggered something in my brain.

It is said that the Jack-O-Lantern comes from Irish folklore.  Supposedly, they carved scary faces in turnips or beets to keep unwanted creatures away from them on that night. 

The story from the 17th century goes that Jack O'Lantern was condemned to walk the earth after making a couple of deals with the devil.  Jack's original name was Stingy Jack who was known as being a foul mouthed drunk.  He invited the Devil out for a drink and when it came time to pay, there was dead silence as each expected the other to pay for it.  At this point, Jack convinced him to turn into a coin to pay for it.  Once the Devil had changed into a coin, Jack pocketed it right next to a silver cross so he couldn't turn back and stiffed the barkeep. After a while, Jack released the Devil with the idea that the Devil wouldn't bother him for a full year and wouldn't take his soul when he died.

One year later, when the Devil returned to collect Jack, Jack convinced him to climb a tree to get a piece of fruit before they took off for hell.  Once the Devil was up the tree, Jack carved a cross in the trunk.  The Devil remained in the tree until he agreed to leave Stingy Jack alone for the next 10 years and upon his death, not claim his soul at all. 

Well, sometime over the next 10 years, Jack died but when he went to heaven, God refused to let him in because he'd not lived a godly life so he sent Jack to hell but the Devil wouldn't let him in because he'd agreed not to take Jack's soul so he was forced to stay in the eternal night, carrying a lantern made of a carved turnip with a lump of burning coal to light his way.

Originally, he was known as Jack of the Lantern which evolved into Jack O'Lantern.  It is said the people of Ireland and Scotland carved their own grotesque faces in turnips, potatoes, or beets before placing them in the windows to keep Jack and other evil spirits away.  When the Irish and Scottish came to America, they discovered the pumpkin was perfect for carving so switched to it.

Over time, carving pumpkins have become a normal part of Halloween in the United States. People have elevated it to an art form while others like myself are lucky to carve a face in it so it doesn't look like Frankenstein.  I figure mine will keep anything and everything away.

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

When Should You Stretch?

Stretching, Sports, Woman, Athlete When I was growing up, I hated P.E.  I wasn't the most coordinated and I always had the instructor who made us stretch at the beginning of the hour, before we did the rest of it.  I was the one who couldn't touch my toes because I didn't bend the same way as others.

Recently, I've noticed the people on my exercise videos recommend stretching at the end, rather than at the beginning. 

I'm sure you grew up hearing the same things I did about stretching but what is the truth?  The American College of Sports Medicine recommends people stretch the major muscle groups for at least 60 seconds each.  This should be done at least twice a week.

In addition, the stretching helps keep a person flexible which is important as a person grows older.  There is current research to suggest that stretching a muscle to its full extent for 30 seconds is considered a static stretch and may not be as effective as a dynamic one.

By dynamic, I mean is a stretch that moves the muscle group through a full range of motion. This type of stretch is considered better if you have not really warmed up yet.  Furthermore, choosing a static stretch before warming up can actually weaken your performance because holding the muscles still can tire your muscles out.

A better time to exercise is after your workout because you are more flexible due to increased circulation to hips and other joints.  If you are into static stretches, this is a more appropriate time for them because its considered safer.

If you want to stretch muscles out without going through a proper workout, it is recommended you walk around for  5 minutes or so to actually warm your body up a bit.  This gets your heart beating, raises your core temperature and pumps blood into your major muscle groups so they are ready.

It is important to save the more aggressive form off stretching for the end of a workout when you are fully warmed up.  When the workout is finished, walk a bit to help your heart return to normal, before spending 10 minutes stretching.

If you want to stretch without doing a full exercise session, move around a bit, then carry out a set of dynamic stretches to warm up all the muscle groups.  I tend to stretch at the end of my workout sessions because I save most of my workouts for after work.  I use them as a way of getting rid of my stress I accumulate during the day.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Disease Can Be Spread By This Animal.

Kitty, Cat, Kitten, Domestic Cat, Animal  Most people claim to be a cat person or a dog person.  Dogs are great for taking with you when you bicycle or go for nice long walks and they tend to sit on laps or toes a lot.  Sometimes they ae a bit big for your lap.  On the other hand, cats tend to be a bit more independent, purr when petted, and let you know when they don't like something much faster.

If you have ever been pregnant, you've heard that you should never change the kitty litter box because there might be a parasite in the poop. 

The parasite, called Toxoplasma gondii, can cause an infection in pregnant women so this is where the waning comes from.  The only way to become infected is if you touch the infected poop and then manage to get it into your mouth.  It is recommended you use gloves when cleaning litter boxes.

What fascinated me about this creature is that it does not just infect cats.  The parasite can be spread to other animals via the cat's poop.  In fact, scientists have discovered the parasite inside of the Arctic Baluga whales found dead near Quebec.  The one celled animal was found in 15 out of 34 whales or about 44 percent.

There is no proof the parasite is responsible for their deaths but if they tested positive, the parasite was mostly found in the brain or heart. According to one scientist, they've always been in contact with the Toxoplasma gondii but with the rise of the domesticated cat population in the Arctic, the number of parasites within the whale population has grown.

They are not sure how the parasite got into the whales.  It is thought the cat when depositing poop outside gets wet, releases the pathogen into the liquid that eventually goes into rivers before flowing to the sea.  

Scientists claim this discovery supports the idea that the warming of the climate in the Arctic has opened the way for the easier spread of pathogens.  In the past, Ice has acted as a barrier to the spread but since things have warmed up a bit, more pathogens are being found in places they haven't been found before.

The only suggestions they have to prevent parasites from ending up in the ocean is to bag the kitty litter up and toss it properly.  In addition, it is recommended one should not flush it down the toilet.

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

Monday, October 22, 2018

Winter is Late!

This picture was taken this past Saturday afternoon on my way over to school for a couple of friendly Volleyball games.

The day, October 20, 2018, was warm and beautiful. Almost warm enough to not even need a sweater. This is highly unusual this late in the fall.

If you look at the hills to the middle right, you'll see there is no snow. None at all.  Usually by now, they should be covered in a blanket of while.

Check the lake out!  It is totally liquid with no ice.  None at all. By now, it should have a good layer of ice, thick enough to walk on.  When the lake has a layer of solid ice, it becomes the shortcut for the village.  You use it to get to the post office faster, the store, even the part of town just across the lake.

The best thing is that a frozen lake makes it faster getting to the clinic which moved to the edge of town closer to the airport in case a medevac is needed.  Since the lake is not frozen and it has not been cold enough to even ice it, the river is still flowing nicely. 

This means men are still traveling by river to other villages, or they go certain spots to hunt because they can.  Someone is always dropping some fresh meat off with my neighbor almost every weekend. The kids are out on the basketball court till dark because its perfectly clear. 

As you can see, it looks like its fall, just like anywhere else.  Don't misunderstand me, we do have fall but its usually about a month earlier.  This is how its supposed to look in mid September not so close to Halloween.  If this continues, I'll get to see all the trick or treaters without all their winter gear.  I might actually see the costumes.

When I moved her 13 years ago, we had snow by this time.  In fact, we'd get several feet of snow over the winter and it often didn't melt till the end of May or early June.  We used to see the first bits of snow by mid September, now its October usually and this year?  Who knows. 

Many argue this is anecdotal evidence of global warming.  I don't know.  I do know that even when I lived on Little Diomede, one of the most remote islands in the United States, locals commented the ice was forming later than normal.  Ice was important because it provided a landing strip for a couple months in the winter but the later it formed, the shorter the season for airplane service before the helicopter started again.

I'll let you know when winter arrives.  Have a great day.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Did She or Didn't She

Girl Woman Beautiful Black Tight Dress Lon She created the little black dress that became a part of every woman's wardrobe.  She created a perfume that survived and is still on the market.  In the 1930's she went to Hollywood to design costumes for several movies but her designs were more for the showroom floor rather than movies.  Who is she?  She is Coco Chanel, creator of the perfume Chanel number 5.

Although she rewrote her history, in reality, she lived in an orphanage when she was 12 because her single mother passed away.  She made a living as both a seamstress and a burlesque performer who took her name "Coco" from the title of a song she regularly performed.

She met a wealthy cavalry officer who showed her a more privileged life which gave her a taste for the finer things.  She made hats for her friends while living with her lover.  Along the way she fell in love with her lover's best friend and he financed her first hat shop in Paris in 1910.

It was only a few years later, she began selling clothing which helped her gain the reputation of a couture.  This also helped her pay off the man who funded her business.  Sometime in the early 1920's she developed her now world famous Chanel number 5 perfume and began marketing it.

Recently, allegations have emerged about her and what she did during World War II that indicate she worked for the Nazi's and might have been a spy.  I was quite surprised to read this as I only knew her as a fashion designer.

First, it is alleged she used the Nazi Party in her attempt to take total control of her perfume company.  Back in 1924, she needed funding for her perfume company so she accepted financing from Paul and Pierre Wertheimer, two Jewish businessmen. 

According to the agreement, she was left with only 10 percent of the company so in the 1930's, she took advantage of Aryan laws as a way of trying to reassert her total ownership of the company but by this time the brothers turned control and ownership to a nonjewish friend.  This prevented her from reclaiming the company.  In addition, they'd fled to New York to safety.

Secondly, She closed her shops down in 1939 just as World War II began, claiming it wasn't time for fashion, disappearing till the 1950's.  Yet it is said she became the lover of Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, the attache assigned by Joseph Goebbels to the German Embassy in Paris in 1933.  It was here they met, became lovers and moved in together at the Ritz in Paris.  Apparently, she was recruited in 1941 as a Nazi spy who traveled around Europe with Baron Louis de Vaufreland. It was their job to recruit spies for the Third Reich.

During this time period she interacted with the British including delivering a letter to Winston Churchill suggesting he end the war with Germany.  As we know the war continued on for another two years.  When the war ended, it was decided not to persecute Coco Chanel.  She and her lover moved to Switzerland until 1954 when she made a deal with the Wertheimer brothers to bring Chanel number 5 back.  The House of Chanel arose from the ashes of the war but her creations were not as popular in Europe as they'd been before the war, however, American fell in love with her fashion.

Was she a Nazi Spy?  I have not seen definitive proof but there are documents which indicate she could easily have been.

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Dining In The Dark

Salmon, Dish, Food, Meal, Fish, Seafood  Apparently, there is a new trend where people pay to dine in the dark.  I am not talking about eating by candlelight but in total darkness.  This requires the waitstaff to use night vision goggles so they can "see" to deliver the food.

This idea began in 1999 when The Blind Cow opened in Zurich Switzerland followed by the Invisible Bar in Cologne, Germany.  These were opened to give sighted people the chance to experience what the blind felt when eating. 

Since then it has changed to become the thing to do.  Since most people cannot see what they are eating, food is served so that meat is in chunks rather than in whole pieces because its extremely difficult to cut something you can't see or vegetables are mushy like masked potatoes rather than green peas.  Thus places like this offered a more limited menu.

Often the menu shows a description of the item because its been discovered that people have problems distinguishing between flavors when they lack visual cues.  In other words, if I order a steak, I use some of what I see to tell me its been blackened and those visual cues provide my mind with what it needs to connect to its flavor.

In addition, the lack of lighting makes it more difficult to interact with people because we do not know where anyone is.  Most restaurants like this seat people on long benches so they are often sitting next to strangers.  Consequently, conversation often revolves around mundane things such as finding the silverware rather than a more intimate topic.  If you can't see people's reaction to your comment, how do you know if it was successful or they were laughing to be polite. No matter how great the dining experience was in the restaurant, they are not likely to want to repeat it at home. 

One reason it is thought the number of restaurants offering this experience is growing because of the "experience economy".  In other words people pay for experiences as well as services and products.  Although, many argue that eating in the dark, heightens our other senses thus making the whole dining experience even better because our smell takes over since we can no longer see.

On the other hand, it is argued that because we can't see the food, we are missing out on things like color which tells us when something is off or burned and those clues help the mind with expected quality. We use those clues a lot.   In addition, the claim that when a person cannot see, their other senses may not be correct because the limit data available indicates that is not true. 

I hear its the experience people are after but honestly, I prefer being able to see my food.  I want to enjoy the colors, see the composition of the dish, enjoy the presentation.  I also don't want to tentatively feel for my food and hope I don't get it in my lap.  I have enough trouble getting the food from my plate to my mouth, I don't need more in my lap.

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Conman or Artist?

Dollar Currency Money Us-Dollar Franklin S  Stephen Boggs was an unusual man by any standards.  Although he was an artist, he didn't sell his work in the usual manner.  In addition, his art bordered on fraud if it didn't remain hanging on the wall.

Stephen Boggs began is career in 1984 while sitting in a diner.  While doodling on a napkin, he turned the number 1 into a one dollar bill.  The waitress offered to buy his artwork but he refused.  In stead he offered the hand drawn picture as payment for his coffee and doughnut.  She accepted it and even gave him a dime in change.

Over the years, he drew American dollars, British pounds, and Swiss Franks but he every bill he created has something on it to indicate it wasn't real such as "In Fun We Trust".  He offered the finished bill to a merchant who had the choice of accepting it or rejecting it.  If the merchant accepted it, he'd ask for a receipt and change.  He used the receipt to keep track of where every piece of artwork ended up.

If anyone contacted him to buy a piece of art, he'd give them the name of a merchant who accepted it and help broker a deal but he never directly sold a piece of his work to anyone.  Many of his bills ended up at the Art Institute in Chicago, the Modern Museum of Art in New York and the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

On the other hand, he was arrested, charged, and tried numerous times as a forger in several different countries because he'd use the "fake" money to pay for things.  He always insisted he was not a counterfeiter even when the Secret Service confiscated over 100 pieces of his work.

His early life was that of being raised by a single mother after she divorced his father but she did remarry a Tampa Business man after working in a Carnival.  Stephen didn't graduate from high school because he was expelled for supposedly starting a riot.  He claims it was someone else who hit the principal with a book.

He tried going to several different colleges to major in Accounting but finally ended up pursuing art at Camden Art Center where he produced conceptual drawings mostly of variations of his signature or numbers.  So in 1984, he began creating money and tried displaying some of it.  In 1986, he showed an oversized pound note that sold for $1500 pounds and in the process attracted the attention of a Swiss Art dealer.

The Swiss appreciated his talent and accepted his drawings as legal tender so he soon lived in the best five star hotels and ate at the finest restaurants. Unfortunately when he tried using his displaying his notes in the UK, he was arrested. 

At one point, he planed to print off $1,000,000 worth of his bills to release into the local economy but he was prevented from doing so.  He even went so far as to sue to get his confiscated art back from the government but the case was dismissed.  Mr Boggs passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 62.  He was found dead in a motel room.

Many recognize him as an artist genius while others claim he stopped one step short of being a con artist.  I don't know but I figure if people accepted his money in payment for supplies it was their choice as long as they didn't spend it.

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Charge It!

Credit Card Master Card Visa Card Credit P  I have two credit cards total.  One I use most days and the other I save for traveling overseas because its the better choice. I use it to the point, I seldom write a check anymore because the credit card is much easier to use.

Credit cards in the form of courtesy cards or metal charge plates that allowed customers a chance to charge their purchases.  Mostly oil companies and department stores began offering these in 1920's. The drawback with these cards is they could only be used with the place that issued them.

In 1950, Frank McNamara started what we know today as a 'Credit Card'. He started the Diner's club card designed to be used at a variety of restaurants in New York City.  The idea was that he'd charge merchants a 7 % fee on everything they purchased.  His logic was that people with the card would spend more than those without and the fee was worth it.

This was the first card to be accepted by multiple merchants.  The cardboard card offered one monthly bill for all those meals eaten at different restaurants but it had to be paid in full at the end of each month. With in one year, 42,000 people used the card and by 1953, it was the first internationally accepted charge card.  In addition, a few other companies tried marketing this type of card.

In 1958, American Express, Carte Blanche and Bank of America issued cards but Bank of America offered the most innovative terms of all.  The Bank of America offered a revolving balance and their  first plastic card that could be used at more types of merchants than the Diner's card but was only good in California at first.  Bank of America introduced its card by mailing 60,000 already activated cards to residents in Fresno.  Unfortunately, this stunt lead cost the bank millions in fraud but they kept issuing them to others within California. 

By 1961, Bank of America began showing a profit.  Up until 1966, this card only worked in California but in that year, they licensed their card to other banks out of state so you could go elsewhere and still use the card.  In  the same year, 1966, a different group of California banks started the Interbank Card Association to help manage issuer merchant transfers. 

 in 1986, Sears added the Discover card which was different from other cards in that it offered a small rebate for every dollar sent using the card.  Eventually, Discover  acquired the Diner's club card.

As time went on the Bank of America card became Visa and the Interbank Card Association became Master Card, two of the major credit cards used in today's society.  Over time, protections and perks were added to attract customers.  In today's society, more and more people are using their smart phones to charge items instead of using a card.

Hope you enjoyed this short history of credit cards.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Malls, Malls, Everywhere Malls

Shopping Mall Shop Shopping Kielce Crown P  Most cities have them.  Many have these multistory structures filled top to bottom with stores, eating courts, and an equal amount of parking.  Some are small with a few stores while others have acres, upon acres of temptation.

By definition, a mall is a collection of stores, services, and parking possibly with banks, movie theaters, gas stations, etc.

Malls have only been around ninety some odd years. The first one was built near Kansas City, MO back in 1922 by the J.C. Nichols company.  It was called the Country Club Mall and the idea was for it to provide a business district for a residential area. It had a single building with a paved lighted parking lot.

Later in the 1920's with cars becoming more popular, business districts became clogged with traffic so companies began building strip malls further out.  Strip malls differed in that they were a straight line of stores often anchored with a grocery store, and/or drug store with other convenience stores in between and parking out front.

Although the Grandview Avenue shopping center (Columbus Ohio) opened in 1928 with 30 stores and parking for 400 people, the Highland Park Shopping Village (Dallas, TX) which opened in 1931 received credit for being the first planned shopping center.  What made it different is that it occupied a single piece of land rather than several blocks with streets running through and the stores all faced inwards, rather than towards the street.

About this time Sears and Montgomery Wards who started as catalogue based operations, began opening stores on its own piece of land with parking lots but in the suburbs where more people lived.  Another shopping center/mall in Columbus, Ohio encouraged night time shopping when Don Casto, developer of the Town and Country Shopping Center hired a 90 year old woman to dive from a 90 foot platform into a four foot pool of flaming water.

This event took place in the lighted parking lot where people could come to see and while there, they could check out the shopping center.  Malls continued to grow and change.  In the 1950's one shopping center opened in Seattle that was actually two strip malls facing each other with a walkway between the two while the first two story mall opened in Framingham, MI one year later.

In 1954, this concept evolved into a mall with a store at the center surrounded by a ring of stores with the park lot enclosing the mall first build in Detroit Michigan.  This mall also made history when it became the first mall to be air conditioned.

Two years later in Edina MN, the first totally enclosed mall opened, complete with central air and heating, two department anchor stores, and a common area.  The Southdale center has the reputation for being the first regional mall.  In the twenty years after World War II, as the populations in the suburbs grew, so did the building of malls, especially strip malls so that by 1964 there were just over 7,600 of them in the United States.

In less than a decade, the number of malls doubled and new types opened such as the "festival marketplace" in Boston filled with food and specialty shops or the first vertical mall in Chicago filled with stores, a hotel, offices, condo's and a parking garage.  Some malls got bigger and bigger becoming super malls such as the Malls of America complete with amusement park while others featured factory outlets.

There were a few years in the late 80's and early 90's where construction dropped due to the Savings and Loan crisis but things snapped back and construction began again.  What is found at malls depends on what the customer wants because the owner of the mall wants to keep stores in it so the population changes as the demands change.

I've even seen a few shopping malls that loose stores to the point it has to close.  There is one I've seen over the years in California loose tenants. The only thing that survives is a couple of restaurants, a movie theater and the odd used bookstore. I expect one of these years its going to totally go out of business.

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

Friday, October 12, 2018

You inherited it! Now What!

Silverware Forks Metal Cutlery Silver Dish  When my grandmother died, she passed it on to my parents and I suspect when they pass on, I'm probably going to inherit it.  What is it?  The family silver, passed down through the generations.  This is the real stuff, the stuff you do not throw in the dish washer but carefully wash by hand and when it tarnishes, you have to clean it.

Its beautiful but high maintenance and not something I know how to really clean.  I just remember helping to clean them with some sort of polish you put on, let set and then wiped off.  When done, the silver looked really cool again and it was promptly wrapped in some sort of cloth and put away until the next fancy meal.

I found 13 different things you can use to help keep silver shiny and beautiful and they are so easy to use. 

1. Bring one liter of water, one tablespoon of baking soda, and a piece of aluminum foil to a boil. Drop the silverware into a pot for 10 or more seconds depending on the amount of tarnish, pull out using kitchen tongs.  If the tarnish still remains make a paste of 1/4 cup baking soda and two tablespoons of water, apply to the silver with a damp sponge and wipe off.

2. Line a medium sized bowl with aluminum foil before filling with hot water.  Add a tablespoon of your powdered laundry detergent and then add your silver.  Let set for a minute before removing and rinsing with clean water and air dry.

3. For persistent tarnish, pour a small amount of ketchup on a paper towel and gently rub over the tarnished area.  If that doesn't remove the tarnish, let the ketchup sit for 15 minutes before rubbing with a soft cloth and rinsing clean.

4. Make a paste out of equal parts of water and cornstarch.  Apply the paste to your silver, let dry, then rub off with a rough towel.  If you do't have cornstarch, you can use cream of tarter.

5. Do you have some hand sanitizer around?  Add a some to a dry soft cloth and rub the silver with it.

6.  Try soaking the silver in lemon-lime soda for an hour to remove tarnish.  After an hour, remove the silver, rinse, and dry completely.

7.  Another household item you can use to clean silver is toothpaste.  Put a small amount of it on a cloth, rub the silver, then rinse.

8.  If you soak your silver in a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of baking soda for two to three hours before rinsing under cold water and drying, it can make your silver sparkle.

9. Finally, another way to make your silver shine is to soak it overnight in a mixture of 1 tablespoon lemon juice,  1 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 cup of instant dry milk. 

If you've inherited the family silver and its looking a bit tarnished, give one of these methods a try to get them looking nice again.

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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Been Around Almost As Long As Football.

Cheerleaders Football College Nfl Sport Un I was watching a rerun of Hell's Kitchen the other night.  If you've never seen it, a bunch of cooks compete to get a head position in one of Chef Gordon Ramsey's restaurants and someone is eliminated each week.  In this episode, one of the challenges took place at a high school complete with marching band and cheerleaders.

I realized cheerleaders are a part of high school and college life for most people.  Most of the schools I went to did not have cheerleaders but there are cheerleaders from wee little ones, to the professionals.

The whole idea of cheerleaders peaked my curiosity because I wasn't sure when they made an appearance on societal landscape. They've been around a lot longer than I expected.  A bit of background before discussing cheerleading.  The first college game was played 1869 between Princeton and Rutgers University in New Jersey.  Sometime by the 1880's Princeton created an all male pep club to support the football team. 

One of the Princeton graduates took all of Princeton University's cheers with him to the University of Minnesota.  In 1898, a medical student at the University of Minnesota grabbed a megaphone and lead the first real organized cheer breaking the college's loosing streak. Soon after, a squad, known as a yell squad, formed with six young men.  They usually wore slacks, sweaters with a letter on it, shirts and bow ties with standard shoes.

It would't be until 1923 women were allowed to join the University of Minnesota.  The 20's was also the decade that tumbling and acrobatics were added to routines. Around the 1930's cheerleaders began using Pom Poms but it wasn't until the 1960's crepe paper was replaced with vinyl.  In addition, other universities allowed women to join their cheerleading  squads but they didn't join in large numbers until the 40's during World War II when men were off fighting.

Just after World War II ended, in the summer of 1948, one of the male cheerleaders at Southern Methodist University, held the very first cheerleading clinic in Huntsville, TX attended by 52 females and one male.  This same gentleman created certain moves which are still around today and he is also the one who founded the National Cheerleading Association which he incorporated in 1961.

In the late 50's cheerleaders began cheering at basketball games, in addition to football. By the 1960's most colleges and high schools had cheerleading squads.  Furthermore, over the years two to three other cheerleading associations were formed including one in 1987 devoted to teaching safety coaches and advisors.  In addition, competitions started so cheerleading squads competed against each other for various titles.  Since those early male only squads, women have gradually taken over so they constitute over 90 percent of cheerleaders currently.

At one point in my teaching career, I ended up as the cheerleading coach when the regular two both had to give it up due to health problems due to having a dance background.  I managed to help choreograph a routine or two and they did well for a first attempt.  The thing that made me feel better is I wasn't the only second choice coach, nor was I the only one who hadn't been a cheerleading in high school.

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Cell Phones Have Come Along Way!

Iphone Smartphone Apps Apple Inc Mobile Ph If you are of a certain age, you remember the world before cell phones.  You remember the telephone which is now referred to as a land line and slowly disappearing into history as more and more people eliminate them in favor of cell phones.  Many grandparents will tell you about party lines where everyone had their own ring and your neighbors ended up listening in when they picked up the receiver to make a call.

When we think of cell phones, we think of  those that have been around for about 40 years but I discovered the idea has been around for a lot longer.  In 1908, a man claimed to have invented a wireless telephone but the world thought him so crazy, they arrested him for fraud.  Charges were later dropped.

During World War I, the Germans tested a radio based cell phone on the train that ran between Berlin and Zossen. After the war in 1924, the Germans added the radio based cell phone to the Berlin Hamburg run.  Not much happened until World War II when the military made use of radio telephony links through the war because the devices became more portable with hand held receivers.

These inventions lead the researchers at Bell Laboratories to develop a phone system that allowed people to send and receive calls in their cars.  On June 17, 1946, they offered mobile services for car phones in St Louis, MO and within a couple of months AT&T began offering their own version of the same service. There was no nationwide service, only a patchwork of limited areas with limited service.

Unfortunately, these phones never really developed at this point because they appealed to a limited number of people.  The cost of the calls tended to be quite expensive because the early calls had to be connected by an operator and the equipment installed in your car weighed close to 36 kilograms or about 75 pounds.  In addition the phones operated by the person depressing a button when they wanted to speak and release it to listen.  At this point, there were only three channels available so only three customers could be using their mobile car phones at any one time.

This system was soon replaced by a better one that allowed more callers on the air and eliminated the need to use the operator to connect calls.  Unfortunately, the increased number of channels still could not handle the demand so people often waited up to 30 minutes or more to connect.  Many local governments restricted the number of callers to keep the system working.

Companies came up with the Radio Common Carrier but it was only a bit better but it discouraged roaming and it had a complicated billing service.  About the same time, various mobile services began in Europe.

 The next big development towards the modern cell phone came from Russia in the late 50's, early 60's when a scientist developed a lighter weight phone weighing 70 grams and fit in a persons hand but the Russian Government pushed to have it used in cars.  Around the same time, Bell labs designed the first technology that lead to our current cell systems.  This technology allowed calls to reuse frequencies and hand off calls.

The first modern cell phone was used to make the first call in 1973 when scientists at Motorola used a prototype to call Bell Labs.  This phone weighed about three pounds and was about 6 inches long.  in 1979, the first 1G network was developed in Tokyo where it spread out across the world, arriving in the United States in 1983, just about the same time the first modern cell phone was released.

The first Motorola phone cost almost $4000 dollars and lasted for about 30 minutes before it needed recharging.  Unfortunately, it was about 12 inches long but it was hailed as the most portable phone up to that time.  Over time, 1G became 2G and the phones became smaller until IBM released Simon, the worlds first smartphone with apps, calendar, e-mail, standard keyboard, etc in 1993. It cost all of $900 for a two year contract or $1100 with no contract.

Over time, the phones have evolved into today's "smart phone" with everything we'd find on any other mobile device.  They are much smaller and much more powerful.

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

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The 10 Best Cakes in the World!

Cake, Chocolate, Chocolate Cake  I love cakes but not the modern ones out of the box.  The one you just add eggs and water, stir and bake.  Those lack substance in my opinion.  I recently had my first "Dump" cake AKA soda cake and it was gross.

I grew up on Duncan Hines and what ever other boxed cake mix was on sale.  When I got old enough, I started hitting the library shelves, looking for cookbooks with 'real' cake recipes.

The ones that are dense, filled with flavor and goodness like an apple spice cake filled with chopped apples and tons of spices or a carrot cake filled with grated carrots.  I love using the pulp left over from making carrot juice in my carrot cakes.

The list in order from last to first is as follows for the most popular ones in the world.

10.  In tenth place is a dish, most Americans would not consider a cake but it actually fits the criteria.  It is the French Souffle which is hard to make but if you do it successfully, you have a fantastic dish.  A dish to impress everyone but it's also the one mentioned in television shows when someone runs through the house slamming doors.

9. Next is the Passion Fruit sponge cake.  I realize its not one most Americans would go after but growing up in Hawaii, passion fruit is a flavor you find in everything from ice cream to pancake syrup.  This cake has two layers of sponge, filled with a mixture of passion fruit, vanilla, and mascorpone before being topped with a wonderful passion fruit icing.  When I lived in Australia, they often added passion fruit to the pavlova's they made.

8.  From Eastern Europe, we have a  Babka which is a yeasted cake filled with chocolate or cinnamon swirls.  Since its yeasted, it's closer to a bread than the type of cake we are used to.  Many countries in Europe have a wide variety of yeasted cakes.  Americans would liken the cake to a brioche style bread.

7. Of course my favorite is a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  Everyone has their special recipe including mine where I throw in lots and lots of pumpkin pie spice. The Ukrainian lady makes a two layer one filled and topped with thick layers of cream cheese frosting so the layers of cake are equal to the filling. I love its denseness and flavor.

6. The French have a Croquembouche found at weddings and and baptism's since it looks a bit like a tree as it moves form a large base to a point at the time.  Its filled with profiteroles made  creme puff pastries tied together with threads of caramel.

5. Another of my favorites is the Spice cake.  Everyone has their own version but typically you'll find cinnamon, ginger, mace, cloves, and mace, topped with a cream cheese frosting.  This type of cake often appears in the fall and winter near certain celebrations.  Some people even add a bit of maple syrup for another flavor dimension.

4. If you've ever visited an Italian restaurant, you'll have run across Tiramisu, layered sponge cake filled with coffee, mascarpone cheese, cocoa, eggs, and sugar, sugar, sugar.  It became popular in the 1960's, and is now considered a classic.  Although some people may say it has faded out of favor, I see it at so many places, I'd disagree with that.

3. What about the decadent Black Forest Cake whose title reminds us of the Black Forest region of Germany.  The chocolate layered cake is filled with whipped cream and cherries but named after the liquor  Schwarzwalder Kirsch, made from cherries.  It is said the cake resembles the flavor of this beverage because its often flavored with a cherry brandy.

2.  From Germany, we hop over to Austria for the Sacher-Torte.  The story goes this chocolate cake covered in apricot jam and topped with a chocolate icing was created back in 1832 when the head chef went home sick and the 16 year old apprentice had to step in to make dessert at a state dinner.  It was a full success but the young man kept the recipe secret.  In 1876, one of his sons opened the Hotel Sacher and of course, served the cake there.

1. The Orange Almond Cake also known as the Flourless Orange Cake is simple but the flavor bursts in your mouth.  The orange and almond flavor bursts forth upon your tongue. There is some controversy regarding the top cake but if you are rating cake by flavor, this has to be it.  I don't care for orange flavor anything but the almonds make it much denser and flavorful than usual.

Many of you might disagree with the list but our favorites are not always looked at in the same way from a world perspective.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day and enjoy the rest of it.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Columbus Day: When and How?

Nina And Pinta Replica Ships Most of us learned the rhyme about Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492 when we were in school.  It is well known he was not the first to discover the Americas but he was the first one to make a claim for a European country.

Although he actually landed around the Bahamas, he is given credit for "discovering" the Americas on October 12, 1492.

The movement towards making it a Federal holiday began during President Harrison's tenure.

What is most interesting is that Columbus never actually set foot on what is now the United States and he was relatively unknown for the first two to three hundred years after he claimed this area for Spain.  It wasn't until the United States became an independent, an association between Columbus and this country grew.

Soon, places were named after Columbus such as the District of Columbus, the Columbus River, Columbus University.   Then in 1828, Washington Irving published a book on Columbus and his voyages.  At the time, its contents were accepted as gospel but it has since been found to be highly fictionalized.  However, it has left history with myths that persist to today.

At about the same time, Italians began moving to the United States, setting up pockets here and there throughout various cities.  Unfortunately, they faced  discrimination for both their religion and just being Irish.  In fact, several were lynched in New Orleans because it was thought they killed the police commissioner even though they didn't receive a proper trial.

It was just one year later that President Harrison made his decision to have people celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's landing and claim of the Americas.  It was his proclamation that connected Columbus with American patriotism but he never really discussed Columbus's life, work, or race. 

The Italian Americans saw celebrating Columbus and his life as a way of being accepted by mainstream America rather than being discriminated against.  Italians across America began pushing to have Columbus Day celebrated and in 1906 Colorado became the first state to officially observe Columbus Day.

By 1910 a total of 14 other states joined Colorado in officially observing Columbus day but about the same time, there was a movement to recognize Leif Erikson as the person who discovered America which lead to Wisconsin to declare Leif Erikson day in 1930. This was about five years after President Coolidge told a crowd he believed Erikson discovered America. 

In 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt, president at the time, implemented the first federal observance of the holiday but it was Richard Nixon who created the modern celebration by presidential decree in 1972.  There are a few states who have renamed this day to "Native American Day" or "Indigenous People's Day or "Discover's Day" but for the most part the federal government still recognized the second Monday of October as Columbus Day complete with closings of the Post Office and other federally run offices.

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

Friday, October 5, 2018

They Saved The Art!

Mona Lisa Smile The Joconde Leonardo De Vi  When I took French back in high school, I remember the teaching stating that the people of France hid the art from the Louvre through World War II so Germany could not appropriate it as they did the art from the Jews and others.

Imagine, a nation worked together to hide precious art work from invaders for several years to preserve their heritage.  The struggle began in 1938, when the French government realized they were facing the possibility of being overrun.

So beginning in 1938, workers of the Louvre prepared paintings, and sculptures before sending them out to chateaux and other places in the countryside.  They chose nondescript locations that the Germans would never think to look.

In 1939, just a few days before the Germans invaded, the Mona Lisa left the Louvre for a safe place.  It would be moved five times during the war to keep it safe but they did it.  In fact, when France and Britain declared war on September 3, 1939, the workers made a concerted effort to remove all remaining major artworks so as to protect them.

Jacques Jaujard took it upon himself to prepare the art to leave the Louvre.  He closed the museum for three days so necessary repairs could be done but in reality, he, his staff, students, and others worked round the clock to pack up all the public art after they classified the art as most valuable art, major works, and world treasures. 

One of the workers secretly recorded every painting confiscated from private citizens so that when the war ended these records were used to repatriate over 45,000 paintings from the Germans. Throughout the war, he kept track of all the artwork, even going to far as to smuggle heaters as needed to help preserve everything.

They packed up over 3,600 paintings, multiple sculptures, and other pieces of artwork, dispatching them in 37 convoys across the countryside. One convoy had 203 trucks carrying over 1800 pieces alone.  These convoy's traveled roads packed with refugees escaping Paris.  Although these pieces of art were protected from the Germans, they decided the Louvre should be reopened one year later in September of 1940 to maintain the normalcy of the city.

Unfortunately, when the Louvre reopened, the Germans slowly filled the museum with art they confiscated from the conquered before sending it on to Germany. Many wings were closed due to a lack of art while at least one other wing housed art that only the Germans could view.  The head of the museum and his workers were unable to do anything to save that art at this time.

In addition to keeping the art safe from the Nazi, he had to fight the Vichy French government who wanted to turn all the art over to the German Government.  Throughout the war he managed to keep that from happening.  Once the war ended, the French Government had to repair the Louvre, get the paintings back and by 1947, the museum reopened with every one of the pieces of art that had been shipped out in 1939.

It is so impressive that the people of France banded together to save these pieces of art for future generations.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Museums? When and Where Did They Start.

Mona Lisa Painting Art Leonardo Da Vinci A  When was the last time you visited a museum?  Was it an art museum such as the Louvre or the Guggenheim? Or did you get to wander through one of the numerous Museums of Science and Technology?

The last museum, I wandered through was the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.  I went because they had a visiting dinosaur exhibit but they also had a kids section and a section filled with Polynesian artifacts. I spent a whole day there and had a blast.

Have you ever wondered how long museums have been around? When did they start?  For most of us, they were always around.  I remember seeing those museums at small hole in the road places you'd stop for gas when traveling cross country.  It might house arrowheads or old animal skeletons but they attracted people.  There is even one in London devoted to death and medicine which I saw with a friend who made a promise to a dying man.

The word Museum came from a Latin word that evolved from the Greek word for Muses. Since Museums are places where items are cared for and displayed so the concept has been around for a very long time, at least since the Sixth century when a Babylonian Princess collected and curated items from Mesopotamia.    This collection was discovered in 1925 by an archeologist who noted that items had notes of where they were from.  This is thought to be the first real museum.

From then on, museums existed but in reality the collections belonged the royalty or the rich who kept them private, never to be seen by the average man.  Eventually, families began donating these collections to the state but the first "public" museum appeared in 1683 when John Tradescant opened his "Curiosity Cabinet".  He built the first building dedicated strictly to art.  It was another 50 years or so before governments began building public museums.

The British Museum began in 1759 while the Louvre opened in 1793.  The Louvre opened due to a degree by the ruling government during the French Revolution as a place to show the artwork confiscated from the wealthy.  Even after the revolution was over, Napoleon continued donating artworks he acquired during his conquests.

Historians consider the 19th century - "The Age of Museums" because museums sprang up all over the world including the Vatican who opened the doors to many of the artworks in their collections.  Soon the common man had access to artwork they'd never had a chance to see.  Over the years, they've expanded to the point of offering educational programs for schools.  I took advantage of one where my students learned about the Egyptians and thirds.  It was awesome.

I hope you enjoyed reading this short history of museums.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

She Owned A Nitroglycerine Factory

Box Explosives Dynamite Antique Wood Joint  Mary Alford, aka Mrs Byron Alford has a unique place in history because she is the only woman ever to own a nitroglycerine factory.

Her husband was the one who built the factory back 1883 but she was not the type of wife to stay home and out of her husband's business.  Mary was a trained accountant who studied about explosives and helped him build the factory. 

Originally, Mr Byron Alford owned one of the largest oil fields in Pennsylvania which he began developing in the 1860's and by 1884 it was considered one of best producing fields in the country, producing over 83 percent of all oil produced in the United States.  At this time, explosives were used in oil fields to improve extraction of the product rather than used in warfare.

So in 1883, they chose the perfect location to build a factory for production of explosives which they could use in their oil fields or sell to other companies. At the time, making nitroglycerine was crude and dangerous because they had to mix sulfuric acid, nitric acid, and glycerin which formed a milky colored liquid. the liquid was added to wooden container with eighteen inches of cold water at the bottom. 

When the liquid hit the water,  red fumes are produced sounding like the hiss of geese. If everything worked properly, the nitroglycerine at the bottom of the wooden casket, it was then poured into an eight quart container and sold for $8.00.  They relied on the accuracy of thermometers of the time to maintain the temperatures needed for the whole process to be completed.

At the time, all nitroglycerine cans were transported by wagons because trains refused to allow them on board at all. She took over the day to day running in 1894 when his health began failing but once Byron Alford died, his wife became head of the factor.  She ordered and paid for the chemicals, managed the payroll, monitored shipping, showed visitors around, and kept it running.

In fact, she did such a great job of running it that within one year, she'd production to 3,000 pounds of nitroglycerine and 6000 pounds of dynamite a day. By 1899, she had the title of "The only woman in the world who owns and operates a dynamite factory".  This meant she was owned one of America's billion dollar oilfields.

 On the other hand, she built wooden buildings because they were much cheaper to build and replace should something accidentally blow.  At one point, an employee forgot and lit a match near the factory. She was noted for commenting that"you never knew when it would blow." and indeed the factory and her house which was only 80 yards from the factory both were damaged. Neighbors had to dig her, her husband, and their daughter out but they rebuilt the factory where it remained in the same place outside of Eldred, Pennsylvania until she died at the age of 77, in 1924.  Her daughter took over the business until she died in 1947 at the age of 79.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Easy Breakfast Rolls

Roll, Breakfast Sandwiches, Water Rolls  A few weeks ago, I found a great breakfast rolls recipe that is super simple to make, uses few ingredients and tastes really good.  I usually make a half a batch because there is only of me.  I also give my neighbor one because he gently teases me at work and I get back by cooking food that makes him drool all over the place.......LOL.

I got the recipe from one of my cookbooks and I really enjoy them because they are not sweet.  I often toast them and smear them with cream cheese, or add slices of cheese to make a sandwich lunch.  I've even had them with fresh hot soup.  These rolls are extremely versatile.

Breakfast rolls.
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 tsp of yeast
1 tsp salt
4 cups of flour

Mix the milk and water together.  Add in the yeast and salt.  Add in 3 to 3 1/2 cups of flour, mixing it till its rather stiff.  Place on floured board and knead.  If the dough is sticky, knead in the remaining flour until its no longer sticky. Place it in an oiled bowl and cover with a towel.  Let sit a few hours. till its risen.   Take the dough out of the bowl, knead it a bit, then break into 8 equal pieces.  Shape the pieces into roll like shapes about 2.5 inches by 1 inch.  Place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper or is nonstick.  Slide the cookie sheet in the refrigerator over night or for several hours.  When you pull the rolls out, let them sit for 20 minutes.  Cut a lengthwise slit in the dough, finish with brushing a bit of milk over all the rolls before baking at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes to 20 minutes.  When done, pull out and cool a bit before eating.

I usually start them around dinner time, get them shaped just before I go to bed, and bake them first thing in the morning when I get up.  I love the fresh rolls dripping in butter for breakfast.  The cool thing is that you can heat them up in the oven or microwave.  Although they are best the day they are baked, I've been known to freeze a few for later in the week.  I thaw them the night before, heat them and voila a great breakfast.

I hope you get a chance to try the rolls.  I adore them and make them on Friday night usually so I have rolls for the weekend.  Yum, yum, yum.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Story Night

Sunset, Mountain, Balance, Top  This past Thursday evening, the school hosted a family night in the middle school/high school wing. The teachers and the home economics class provided snacks for the evening.  The blackberry agutaq was absolutely fantastic.  I know when I said blackberry, you automatically pictured the usual but these do not resemble a raspberry.  They are actually a nice small round berry that is black.

There was also fry bread, a local version of Indian fry bread that is eaten with the agutaq along with brownies, cookies, regular bread and juices or tea.  It was so good.  After half an hour, we adjourned to one of the larger rooms to listen to two elders who came to share the older stories with us.  One of the teachers planned to record the stories so they could be transcribed and turned into native language books for us in the classroom.

Traditionally, three stories are told and the evening is over.  The two elders shared at least two stories with the group but it could have been three as my knowledge of the local language is quite limited.  Fortunately, the gentleman running the evening gave abbreviated versions of the story.

One of the stories is always a ghost story and the one they told took place way back when families were strictly nomadic.  They spent the winter inland and as spring arrived, they moved towards the sea to find food. By fall, they headed back inland till they reached the overwintering place.  According to the elder, as people were heading towards the coast, stopping at fish camp, one man headed back to get something.  He and his one dog who pulled his sled, arrived at night.  They spend the night in one of the sod houses. 

In the middle of the night, suddenly one corner shook as if something struck it, then another corner, another corner, and finally the last corner shook.  He was scared when something tried to get in.  His dog, quickly dug a hole in the dirt floor big enough for both he and his master.  They both hid in the hole as the unknown creature came in.  When the creature passed them, the man and his dog ran out the door and kept running until they passed the opening in the ground surrounding the village. Once they were safe, the dog began puking black goo from its stomach until it died.  The man was sad but appreciated that the dog saved his life.

The other story the man translated was from the other elder.  The area is surrounded by three specific groups of low mountains/hills.  In this story, a man tied one rock to his back with ropes or something like that.  He picked up one rock with his left arm and another with his right.  He carried the rocks towards the coast but eventually, the rock tied to his back slipped off and landed on the ground to form one of the mountains.  He stopped here and threw the rock in his left arm in one direction and the other rock in a different direction.  Each of the rocks when they landed formed a different set of mountains. She said that is how the three local mountains formed.

It was wonderful and lots of fun.  Both women did speak some English but the stories are better told in the local language so the children and others are able to keep the language alive.  I really enjoyed it.  This is only the first one of these due to happen this year.

I hope you enjoyed the stories I shared.  Have a great evening.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.