Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Springing Into Spring

Spring is one of the four temperate seasons. Spring marks the transition from winter into summer.

Definition of Spring

According to the astronomical definition, spring begins on the
Vernal Equinox (usually March 21 in the Northern Hemisphere, and September 21 in the Southern Hemisphere), and lasts until the summer solstice (usually June 22 in the Northern Hemisphere and December 22 in the Southern Hemisphere). According to this definition, therefore, the day called Midsummer's Day in some traditions is the first day of Summer. Meteorologists generally define the beginning of spring as March 1 in the Northern Hemisphere and September 1 in the Southern Hemisphere. According to the Celtic tradition which is based solely on daylight and the strength of the noon sun spring begins in early February (near Imbolc or Candlemas) and continues until early May (Beltane). Unlike the other three seasons, people in relatively cool climates are likely to use the astronomical definition for the beginning of spring in popular jargon but retain the meterological definition for the other three seasonal turning points.

The phenological definition of spring relates to vindicators, the blossoming of a range of plant species, and the activities of animals, or the special smell of soil that has reached the temperature for micro flora to flourish. The first swallow to arrive or the flowering of lilac may be the indicator of spring. It therefore varies according to the climate and according to the specific weather of a particular year.
Events that occur during spring
In recent decades
season creep has been observed, which means that many phenological signs of spring are occurring earlier in many regions by a couple of days per decade.
In spring, the axis of the
Earth is tilted toward the Sun and the length of daylight rapidly increases for the relevant hemisphere. The hemisphere begins to warm significantly causing new plant growth to "spring forth," giving the season its name. Snow, if a normal part of winter, begins to melt and streams swell with runoff. Frosts, if a normal part of winter, become less severe. Many temperate climates have no snow and may have no frosts, and the air and ground temperature increase. Many flowering plants bloom this time of year, in a long succession sometimes beginning even if snow is still on the ground, continuing into early summer. In normally snowless areas "spring" may begin as early as February (Northern Hemisphere) heralded by the blooming of deciduous magnolias, cherries, and quince, or August (Southern Hemisphere) in the same way. Subtropical and tropical areas have climates better described in terms of other seasons, eg dry or wet, or monsoonal, or cyclonic. Often the cultures have locally defined names for seasons which have little equivalence to the terms originating in Europe. Many temperate areas have a dry spring, and wet autumn (fall), which brings about flowering in this season more consistent with the need for water as well as warmth. Subarctic areas may not experience "spring" at all until May or even June, or December in the outer Antarctic.
While spring is a result of the warmth of the turning of the earth's axis, the weather in many parts of the world is overlain by events which appear very erratic taken on a year to year basis, but the rainfall in spring, or any season, follow trends more related to longer cycles or events created by ocean currents and ocean temperatures which move to different complex effects. A good and well researched example being the
El Nino effect and the Southern Oscillation Index.
weather may more often occur during spring, when warm air begins on occasions to invade from lower latitudes, while cold air is still pushing on occasions from the Polar Regions. Flooding is also most common in and near mountainous areas during this time of year because of snowmelt, many times accelerated by warm rains. In the United States, Tornado Alley is most active this time of year, especially since the Rocky Mountains prevent the surging hot and cold air masses from spreading eastward and instead force them directly at each other. Besides tornadoes, supercell thunderstorms can also produce dangerously large hail and very high winds, for which a severe thunderstorm warning or tornado warning is usually issued. Even more so than winter, the jet streams play an important role in unstable and severe weather in the springtime in the Northern Hemisphere.
As mentioned, spring is a term for temperate climates, but the news of many countries covers large parts of continents and so we may hear of the
hurricane season (Northern Hemisphere) and cyclone season Southern Hemisphere officially beginning in late spring. This is less to do with the relationship of spring to hurricanes / cyclones but more to do with the extent of media coverage and the use of seasonal terms from the one part of a continent to make reference to what is happening in other less temperate climates. The monsoon season is the monsoon season, and not some variation of spring or summer, except for those perceiving it from a temperate climate background.
Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, of new life (both plant and animal) being born. The term is also used more generally as a metaphor for the start of better times, as in
Prague Spring.
Spring is the end of
winter, and the culmination of lengthening days. The Christian season of birth and renewal has Easter at this time.
Spring in the Southern Hemisphere is different in several significant ways to that of the Northern Hemisphere. This is because: there is no land bridge between
Southern Hemisphere countries to the Arctic zone capable of bringing in cold air without the temperature mitigating effects of extensive tracts of water; the vastly greater amount of ocean in the Southern Hemisphere at all latitudes; at this time in Earth's geologic history the Earth has an orbit which brings it in closer to the Southern Hemisphere for its warmer seasons; there is a circumpolar flow of air (the roaring 40's and 50's) uninterrupted by large land masses; no equivalent jet streams; and the peculiarities of the reversing ocean currents in the Pacific...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What is a Grandparent?

Grandparents are the father or mother of a person's own father or mother, being respectively a grandfather (also colloquially grandpa, grandad, gramps, pop or many other terms) and a grandmother (also grandma, granny, grandmama, grandmums, gran, nana or many other terms). Everyone has a maximum of four genetic grandparents, eight genetic great-grandparents, sixteen genetic great-great-grandparents, etc.
In cases where the parents are unwilling or unable to provide adequate care for their children, grandparents often take on the role of primary caregivers. Even when this is not the case, grandparents often participate in the raising of children.
In traditional cultures, grandparents often had a direct and clear role in relation to the care and
nurture of children.
One can also be a step-grandparent. A step-grandparent can be your parent's stepparent or your stepparent's parent. A stepparent's stepparent is called a step-step-grandparent, etc.
The various words for grandparents at times may also be used to refer to any elderly person, especially the terms gramps, granny, grandfather, grandmother and even more types that most families make up themselves.
Two individuals who have grandparents in common, but are not siblings, are called
first cousins. The parents of a person's first cousins are his or her uncles and aunts.

When used as a noun (i.e., "…a grandparent walked by"), grandfather and grandmother are usually used, although grandpa/grandma and granny are often used. When preceded by "my…" (i.e., "…my grandpa walked by"), all forms are common (anywhere from "…my grandfather…" to "…my gramps…"). All forms can be used in plural, but gramps (plural gramps) is rare.
In writing, grandfather and grandmother are most common. In speech, grandpa and grandma are most common in the
US, where grandfather/-mother is very rare when referring to a grandparent in person. In Britain and New England nan, nana, nanny and other variations are often used for grandmother in both writing and speech.
Numerous other variants exist, such as gramp and grandpap or pop for grandfather and grandmom, grandmama and grammy for grandmother, etc. Because of the terms' unavoidable familiarity, there are many simplified versions as well, including gogo,grampy, granddaddy, grandpappy, etc.
Given that people may have two living sets of grandparents, some confusion arises from calling two people "grandpa" or "grandma", so often two of the other terms listed above are used for one set of grandparents. Another common solution is to call grandparents by their first names ("Grandpa George", "Grandma Anne", etc.) or by their family names ("Grandpa Jones", "Grandma Smith"). In America (where most families are of mixed ethnicity), many families call one set of grandparents by their ethnic names (i.e.,
Hispanic grandparents might be called "Abuelo" and "Abuela", French grandparents might be called "Pépé" and "Mémé", or Dutch and German grandparents might be called "Opa" and "Oma"). As you can see, there are many different types of names for "grandma" and "grandpa" for different languages and cultures.

The parents of a grandparent are called all the same names (grandfather/-mother, grandpa/-ma, granddad/-ma, etc.) with the prefix "great-" added. Thus, one's father's father's father is a great-grandfather. The same applies to one's great-grandparent's parents (great-great-grandparents). Also note that two individuals who share the same great-grandparents but are not siblings or first cousins are called Second Cousins to each other because second cousins are the grandchildren of your grandparent`s siblings.
All This To Celebrate the Impending Arrival of My First Great Grand Child in July. My Much too young Grand-daughter who was born to her much too young mother is expecting. (At least I won't be so OLD, that I Can't teach the child some infinate knowledge!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Gardening For (Almost) Nothing

Gardening on The CHEAP!

Whether you have a coffee can full of compost or a thousand acres of farmland to garden, you can grow at least some of your own food for much less than you'd pay for it. In some instances, you can for free.
Get a few plants, a little water and some gardening wisdom (the kind found at the local library or through a search engine on the Internet), and you can frugally grow everything from potatoes and carrots to artichokes and asparagus.
Be careful. It can be kind of scary to walk into a garden center and look at the price of bedding plants! Believe me, that's not a frugal plan. For the price of a few of those plants, it seems to be cheaper (and certainly easier) to just buy a few tomatoes and lettuce at the store. Why do they cost so much?
The grower has invested in all sorts of lighting and containers and heating and watering systems to make the conditions just right to germinate and grow the largest amount of seed possible with the smallest amount of fuss and failure. While it would be impossible to duplicate that sophisticated setup at home without an enormous cost, it is possible to grow our own bedding plants and decide ourselves how much we want to pay for them.
Method One - This method is simple and straightforward, and while it can save money over buying the plants and/or the produce, it doesn't save as much as other methods do. You simply go to the store and buy seed, buy rows or racks of seedling pots, buy soil and/or peat moss and put them all together in a warm spot and water and wait and hope for the best.
Method Two - The second method is similar, except that you use the seed saved from last year. The pots can be saved from last year, or you can use empty food cans or plastic bowls for containers or just about anything else you can scrounge. Be sure to punch drainage holes in the containers and don't use clear glass jars; the light can cause fungi and other nasties to grow in the soil.
Method Three - The third (you knew this was coming, didn't you?) is the super frugal way. Save your own seed or trade with other seed savers for what you want. Make seedling pots from biodegradable newspaper so you won't have to disturb the tiny roots of the seedlings. Use your own compost or trade with someone for some of their compost to start the seedlings. Test the soil by putting a drop of vinegar in a teaspoon or so. If it fizzes, it's too alkaline. Then test it by putting in baking soda mixed with a little water. If it fizzes, it's too acidic.
I have yet another way. If you're not really into starting plants from seeds, but you want to garden within your budget nonetheless, there are ways to get free or almost free plants.
When you buy fresh vegetables over the winter, look for plants that have some of the roots left. Often, these can be put in a dish of water and they'll begin to grow. Keep your eyes open, too, for food that's trying to sprout. Potatoes are the most common of these. (No, you don't need special "seed potatoes.") Save potatoes with "eyes" for spring planting outside. Turnip roots can be replanted indoors and so can celery roots, onion bottoms and carrot tops. Don't cut too much of the vegetable away (carrots excluded). Leave a half inch or so with the root. You can eat the rest.
Carrots that have gone limp in your refrigerator will often grow beautiful tops in a container on a windowsill. You can eat carrot greens fresh or cooked, and you can stick a radish that's looking pretty bad in a container of dirt with plenty of water and it will grow and give you delicious radish seed pods.
At this moment I have, growing on my kitchen windowsill, two firm little white onions almost the size of golf balls. They grew from a soft little onion the size of a penny that was trying to sprout late last fall. It was the kind that usually gets thrown in the garbage.
Why throw away good food? Just because it doesn't look so appetizing now doesn't mean it won't be good eating with the proper conditions. Give it a try. It's fun and it's extremely frugal!
Other possibilities are cabbage and garlic, and don't overlook the seeds we eat. Got a few beans, peas, lentils, popcorn seeds? Why not plant them? The return is amazing.
If you're growing a garden, you must make sure the plants are well fed. There are plenty of commercial fertilizers on the market, but they can be expensive, and you may want to be more selective about what you add to your soil. There are alternatives if you're looking for a cheap fertilizer for your garden.
1) Make your own compost from kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, leaves and shredded tree limbs. There are many designs for composters, which range from quite simple to highly expensive.
2) Bury your organic waste in your garden
if you don't want to build a compost pile or if your community doesn't allow one.
3) Check with your city or county to see if they offer free compost. They often have an area where they dump their tree trimming mulch and are more than happy for you to come and get it free. Even if there is a small fee for loading, it's well worth it.
4) Go for the cheaper bags of compost in your garden supply store. Usually, the only difference in these and the more expensive brands is the texture. The cheap brands may be a little lumpier, but you can work them into the soil, and they'll serve the same purpose of adding nutrients and amending the soil.
5) Find a source for free manure. Fresh manure can burn your plants, so it should compost for about a year before you add it to your garden. Many times, your supplier has an old pile and a fresh pile, so go for the older one. Your neighbors and your garden will thank you for that. Manure can also have weed seeds in it, so you may have some extra weeding to do.
6) Concoct your own liquid fertilizer. You can find many recipes for making fertilizer, which use items such as beer, ammonia and other household products. If you decide to use some of the recipes, do your research and find some legitimate and proven formulas, or you may do more harm than good to your young plants.
7) Read the label if you decide to use some of the cheap chemical fertilizers. Look for a complete and balanced fertilizer that includes minor elements and micro nutrients. The ones with only a couple of elements may be cheaper, but aren't going to provide everything your garden needs.
Cheap Gardening
One way to lower grocery costs and improve the quality of your meals is to garden. Even people who live in apartment settings can garden either with containers on windows and porches, or by joining a garden co-op which charges a small fee for space. Another often over looked source of food is to plant perennial plants, shrubs and trees which bear fruit. To get started you need seeds. Check out your local discount stores for inexpensive seed. I’ve gotten some in early spring sales for ten cents a pack. For those crops in which you only want a few plants (broccoli or cauliflower for example) these little packs are just fine. You can plant in almost any discarded container. I use egg cartons, egg shell halves, and milk containers cut to size, but anything water proof will do. Soil can be plain garden dirt sterilized by baking in the oven, or a cheap bag of potting mix from the discount store. It depends on the time you have to fiddle about.To sterilize soil, break up the clods and remove worms and put them back into the garden. Then place the dirt in a heat proof container and bake at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for around an hour. This will kill the damping off fungus and nematodes which might be present to eat your plants! In nature bright sunlight does this, but most seed starting takes places indoors where the light is not strong enough to kill damping off in the soil. Fill your seed starters with the soil mixture and plant as directed on the seed packs. Keep moist and warm and soon you’ll see the little plants. This late in the season once they have two sets of true leaves start leaving them out in dappled sunlight for a few days before moving them to the garden. This called hardening-off and prepares the plants for the sunny, windy world of the garden. If you don’t have room for a separate vegetable garden tuck veggies in with your flowers. The best peppers I ever grew were in my flower bed last year!!!The cheapest way to get perennials and larger permanent plantings is as discards and gifts from other gardeners. You can swap many plants and get some free by this sharing. Try joining your local garden club to find other gardeners. If you don’t have the time or resources to network with other gardeners, you can by plants cheap at season end sales or early season specials. Check out the permaculture sites online for ideas for plants and trees which bear fruit, so they are more than just decorative. GardeningFertilizer for your garden can be gotten by composting yard waste and kitchen scraps. City and apartment gardeners can compost too, by using worm composting. In this method worms can unobtrusively compost your kitchen garbage into food for your plants –without freaking the neighbors with a compost pile. Expensive sprays can be replaced by a whole series of recipes for sprays which use kitchen ingredients.
Here are some cheap sprays for various garden problems culled from all sorts of newsgroups and garden hint lists:
WEED KILLERS: Mix 1 gallon white vinegar, 1 cup table salt, and 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid together and spray on weeds. To do so, remove approximately 2 cups of vinegar from the jug, pour in the salt and dishwashing liquid, then return the 2 cups of vinegar to the jug. Close the lid and shake to mix. Transfer to a spray bottle (after shaking to mix the ingredients) as needed. It works as well, if not better, than Chemicals, but is much cheaper. Be careful, it will kill whatever you spray it on! If you go purchase vinegar, 10% acidity, 20% acid would be better, and spray it on the weeds in the heat of the full sun, you will have an effective weed killer.
FOLIAGE FERTILIZER SPRAY:To make a home brew, use the following per gallon of water 1-2 cups manure compost tea 1 tablespoon liquid seaweed 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses 1 tablespoon natural apple cider vinegar. For more serious disease infestations: 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts 1/4 cup garlic tea 1 rounded tablespoon baking soda or potassium bicarbonate.
GARDENVILLE FIRE ANT CONTROL, add two oz. of concentrated orange or 1 cup of homemade citrus oil.
HOMEMADE CITRUS OIL: Fill a container half full of citrus peelings or old fruit, the rest with water, let soak for a week or two, use about a cup of your new concentrate per gallon of spray.
MISCELLANEOUS REMEDIES SKUNK and OTHER FOUL SMELLS: 1 Quart Hydrogen Peroxide, 1/2 cup Baking Soda, 1 teaspoon Liquid Soap.Rub into fur and rinse with tap water. DO NOT STORE THIS MIX!
REPELL PEST ANIMALS: Mix in one 20-gallon hose end sprayer (can buy a sprayer at any plant nursery):8 oz. Murphy's oil soap 4 oz. Castor oil 1 oz. human urine 1 teaspoon alum dissolved in hot water 3 oz. Tabasco hot sauceSpray the desired area until the sprayer is empty. Will not harm plants, grasses, shrubs or trees.
INSECTICIDES, INSECTICIDAL SOAPS AND MOSQUITO REPELLANTS: Olive oil insecticide soap, 4 tbsp lye, 3 tbsp cold water (should be soft water or rain water) 1 cup olive oil. DO THIS IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA (i.e. outside!) USE A GLASS, ENAMEL, WOOD, or STAINLESS STEEL BOWL.
1. put cold water in bowl.
2. add lye and stir until dissolved (this is the part where you need to be careful -- the lye can bubble around, so don't get burned and keep your face back).
3. once the lye is dissolved, slowly add the oil while stirring.
4. stir for 5 minutes.
5. pour into a plastic tub, and let it set.
The setting process can take a day or two, so be patient. To use it, I grate the block of soap into powder with a cheese grater (the fine side), and add 1 tsp of powder to 1 cup of soft water. If using a sprayer it's wise to sieve the soap mixture before putting it in the bottle to get out any soap chunks
MOSQUITO REPELLENT: Start out by roasting garlic in the microwave, squeezing the pulp out and spinning it in the blender with a little oil.Then add water and some blue food coloring, and put the concoction in the fertilizer dispenser that hooks to the hose.(the color was so you know when it was done dispensing)Mixing garlic powder with water works just as well and is less trouble.Just spray it all over the grass, vegetation and everything.It will be effective immediately and the smell does go away quickly.It lasts for me about 2 weeks or until we have a hard rain.The stuff is pure magic. It also keeps the gnats and "no see 'ems" away, and even deters the yellowflies.
NEMATODES: Use sugar water (1 lb. to 5 gallons) to drench soil 1 lb. sugar to 50 feet of row, 1 tsp. sugar in planting hole (unclear, but this may be the rate when planting large-seeded plants like melons or squash) 3/4 cup sugar in hole when transplanting tomatoes.
To Give your plants a mineral boost use Epsom salts:Like your body, your plants will suffer from a lack of nutrients. Just a spoonful of Epsom Salt is like a multivitamin, and can prevent weak stalks and yellow leaves. And for big, healthy vegetables, sprinkle Epsom Salt around the base of each plant.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Day

(Saint) Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14 by many people throughout the world. In the West, it is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other by sending Valentine's cards, presenting flowers, or offering confectionery. The day was originally a pagan festival that was renamed after two Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines". Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged
Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The sending of Valentines was a fashion in nineteenth-century Great Britain, and, in 1847, Esther Howland developed a successful business in her Worcester, Massachusetts home with hand-made Valentine cards based on British models. The popularity of Valentine cards in 19th-century America was a harbinger of the future commercialization of holidays in the United States. The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, behind Christmas. The association estimates that, in the US, men spend in average twice as much money as women.
Saint Valentine.
Numerous early Christian martyrs were named
Valentine. Until 1969, the Catholic Church formally recognized eleven Valentine's Days. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae) and Valentine of Terni (Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae). Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who suffered martyrdom about AD 269 and was buried on the Via Flaminia. His relics are at the Church of Saint Praxed in Rome. and at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland.
Valentine of Terni became bishop of Interamna (modern
Terni) about AD 197 and is said to have been killed during the persecution of Emperor Aurelian. He is also buried on the Via Flaminia, but in a different location than Valentine of Rome. His relics are at the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Terni (Basilica di San Valentino).
Catholic Encyclopedia also speaks of a third saint named Valentine who was mentioned in early martyrologies under date of February 14. He was martyred in Africa with a number of companions, but nothing more is known about him.
No romantic elements are present in the original early medieval biographies of either of these martyrs. By the time a Saint Valentine became linked to romance in the fourteenth century, distinctions between Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni were utterly lost.
In the 1969 revision of the
Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, the feastday of Saint Valentine on February 14 was removed from the General Roman Calendar and relegated to particular (local or even national) calendars for the following reason: "Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14." The feast day is still celebrated in Balzan (Malta) where relics of the saint are claimed to be found, and also throughout the world by Traditionalist Catholics who follow the older, pre-Vatican II calendar.
The Early Medieval
acta of either Saint Valentine were excerpted by Bede and briefly expounded in Legenda Aurea. According to that version, St Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and had a discussion with him, attempting to get him to convert to Roman paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Because of this, he was executed. Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer.
Legenda Aurea still providing no connections whatsoever with sentimental love, appropriate lore has been embroidered in modern times to portray Valentine as a priest who refused an unattested law attributed to
Roman Emperor Claudius II, allegedly ordering that young men remain single. The Emperor supposedly did this to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers. The priest Valentine, however, secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young men. When Claudius found out about this, he had Valentine arrested and thrown in jail. In an embellishment to The Golden Legend, on the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he wrote the first "valentine" himself, addressed to a young girl variously identified as his beloved, as the jailer's daughter whom he had befriended and healed, or both. It was a note that read "From your Valentine."
Modern Times
The reinvention of Saint Valentine's Day in the 1840s has been traced by Leigh Eric Schmidt. As a writer in Graham's American Monthly observed in 1849, "Saint Valentine's Day... is becoming, nay it has become, a national holyday." In the
United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828-1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father operated a large book and stationery store, but Howland took her inspiration from an English valentine she had received, so clearly the practice of sending Valentine's cards had existed in England before it became popular in North America. The English practice of sending Valentine's cards appears in Elizabeth Gaskell's Mr. Harrison's Confessions (published 1851). Since 2001, the Greeting Card Association has been giving an annual "Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary." The U.S. Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. The association estimates that, in the US, men spend in average twice as much money as women.
Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced
greeting cards. The mid-nineteenth century Valentine's Day trade was a harbinger of further commercialized holidays in the United States to follow.
In the second half of the twentieth century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts in the United States, usually from a man to a woman.Such gifts typically include
roses and chocolates packed in a red satin, heart-shaped box. In the 1980s, the diamond industry began to promote Valentine's Day as an occasion for giving jewelry. The day has come to be associated with a generic platonic greeting of "Happy Valentine's Day." As a joke, Valentine's Day is also referred to as "Singles Awareness Day." In some North American elementary schools, children decorate classrooms, exchange cards, and eat sweets. The greeting cards of these students often mention what they appreciate about each other.
The rise of Internet popularity at the turn of the millennium is creating new traditions. Millions of people use, every year, digital means of creating and sending Valentine's Day greeting messages such as
e-cards, love coupons or printable greeting cards.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Friday the 13th History

Friday the 13th is a superstition about a day of good or bad luck

The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a word derived from the concatenation of the
Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή) (meaning Friday), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς) (meaning thirteen), attached to phobía (φοβία) (meaning fear). This is a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a simple phobia (fear) of the number thirteen, and is also known as friggatriskaidekaphobia. The term triskaidekaphobia was derived in 1911 and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.

According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a "Friday the 13th" superstition before the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in an 1869 biography of
Gioachino Rossini: [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring and affectionate friends; and if it be true that, like so many other Italians, he regarded Friday as an unlucky day, and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday, the 13th of November, he died. However, some folklore is passed on through oral traditions. In addition, "determining the origins of superstitions is an inexact science, at best. In fact, it's mostly guesswork." Consequently, several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition. One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.
numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve signs of the zodiac, twelve hours of the clock, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, twelve gods of Olympus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.
Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century's The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s. It has also been suggested that Friday was the day that Jesus was crucified. On the other hand, another theory by author Charles Panati, one of the leading authorities on the subject of "Origins" maintains that the superstition can be traced back to ancient myth: The actual origin of the superstition, though, appears also to be a tale in Norse mythology. Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil - a gathering of thirteen - and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as "Witches' Sabbath." Another theory about the origin of the superstition traces the event to the arrest of the legendary Knights Templar. According to one expert:
The Knights Templar were a monastic military order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 C.E., whose mission was to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. Over the next two centuries, the Knights Templar became extraordinarily powerful and wealthy. Threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, King Philip secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307 - Friday the 13th.
The connection between the superstition and the
Knights Templar was popularized in the 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code, however, some experts think that it is relatively recent and is a modern-day invention. For example, the superstition is rarely found before the 20th century, when it became extremely common. One author, noting that references are all but nonexistent before 1907 but frequently seen thereafter, has argued that its popularity derives from the publication that year of Thomas W. Lawson's popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, in which an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.


The following months have a Friday the 13th:

2006, 2012, 2017, 2023
2004, 2009, 2015, 2026
2009, 2015, 2020, 2026
2001, 2007, 2012, 2018
2005, 2011, 2016, 2022
2003, 2008, 2014, 2025
2001, 2007, 2012, 2018
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gardens For Growing Food and Other Things!

Vegetable Garden
A vegetable garden (also known as a vegetable patch or vegetable plot) is a garden that exists to grow vegetables and other plants useful for human consumption, in contrast to a flower garden that exists for aesthetic purposes. It is a small-scale form of vegetable growing. A vegetable garden typically includes a compost heap, and several plots or divided areas of land, intended to grow one or two types of plant in each plot. It is usually located to the rear of a property in the back garden. Many families have home kitchen and vegetable gardens that they use to make food. In World War II, people had gardens called a 'victory garden' which provided food to families and thus freed up resources for the war effort.
With worsening economic conditions and increased interest in organic and sustainable living, many people are turning to vegetable gardening as a supplement to their family's
diet. Food grown in your own backyard, uses up little if any fuel for shipping, and the grower can be sure of what exactly was used to grow it. Organic horticulture, or organic gardening, has become increasingly popular for the modern home gardener.
There are many types of vegetable gardens. Potagers, a garden in which vegetables,
herbs and flowers are grown together, has become more popular than the more traditional rows or blocks.
Potager Garden
A potager garden is a
French method of creating ornamental vegetable or kitchen gardens. Often flowers (edible and non-edible) and herbs are planted with the vegetables to enhance the beauty. The goal is to make the function of providing food aesthetically pleasing.
Plants are chosen as much for their functionality as for their color and form. Many are trained to grow upward. A well-designed potager can provide food, cut flowers and herbs for the home with very little maintenance. Potagers can disguise their function of providing for a home in a wide array of forms--from the carefree style of the
cottage garden to the formality of a knot garden.
Herb Garden
Herb gardens may be purely functional or can include a blend of functional and ornamental parts. They are usually only used to flavour food in cooking, hereby sometimes also triggering positive medical side-effects. In addition, plants grown within the garden are sometimes also specifically targeted to cure common illnesses or maladies such as colds, headaches, or anxiety. Especially due to the increase in popularity of alternative medicine, this usage is heavily increasing. Making a medicinal garden however, requires a great number of plants, one for each malady. Herbs grown in herb gardens are also sometimes used to make herbal teas . During the medieval period, monks and nuns developed specialist medical knowledge and grew the necessary herbs in specialist gardens. Typical plants were rosemary, parsley, sage, marjoram, thyme, mint, rue, angelica, bay, oregano, dill and basil. Borage is commonly grown in herb gardens; its flowers can be used as a garnish Herbs can be used for a variety of culinary and medicinal purposes. Some popular culinary herbs in temperate climates are to a large extent still the same as in the medieval period, although some other newer ones also include borage, horseradish, tarragon, chervil.[citation needed] Among the herbs used in teas are Mint, Lavender, Lemon verbena, Rose hip, Bergamot, Hibiscus sabdariffa (for making karkade), Marjoram, Jasmine, Chamomile, Stevia (for sweetening). Some herbs with medicinal purposes include:
echinacea purpurea, salix alba, ginseng and siberian ginseng (for cold/headaches and increasing resistance)
valerian, californian poppy (against anxiety)
feverfew (against headaches)
yarrow (against cuts and bruizes)
Rock Garden
A rock garden, also known as a rockery or an alpine garden, is a type of garden that features extensive use of
rocks or stones, along with plants native to rocky or alpine environments.Rock Garden plants tend to be small, both because many of the species are naturally small, and so as not to cover up the rocks. They may be grown in troughs (containers), or in the ground. The plants will usually be types that prefer well-drained soil and less water. The usual form of a rock garden is a pile of rocks, large and small, esthetically arranged, and with small gaps between, where the plants will be rooted. Some rock gardens incorporate bonsai, though this practice is not subject to legislative control. Some rock gardens are designed and built to look like natural outcrops of bedrock. Stones are aligned to suggest a bedding plane and plants are often used to conceal the joints between the stones. This type of rockery was popular in Victorian times, often designed and built by professional landscape architects. The same approach is sometimes used in modern campus or commercial landscaping, but can also be applied in smaller private gardens.
Flower Garden
A flower garden is a general term for any
garden where flowers are grown for decorative purposes. Because flowers bloom at varying times of the year, and some plants are annual, dying each winter, the design of flower gardens can take into consideration to maintain a sequence of bloom and even of consistent color combinations, through varying seasons.
Flower gardens combine plants of different heights, colors, textures, and fragances to create interest and delight the senses.
Flower color is an important feature of both the
herbaceous border and the mixed border that includes shrubs as well as herbaceous plants, and of bedding-out schemes limited to colorful annuals. Flower gardens are sometimes tied in function to other kinds of gardens, like knot gardens or herb gardens, many herbs also having decorative function, and some decorative flowers being edible.
One simpler alternative to the designed flower garden is the "wildflower" seed mix, with assortments of seeds which will create a bed that contains flowers of various blooming seasons, so that some portion of them should always be in bloom. The best mixtures even include combinations of
perennial and biennials, which may not bloom until the following year, and also annuals that are "self-seeding", so they will return, creating a permanent flowerbed.
Another, even more recent trend is the "flower garden in a box", where the entire design of a flower garden is pre-packaged, with separate packets of each kind of flower, and a careful layout to be followed to create the proposed pattern of color in the garden-to-be.

Many, if not most, plants considered decorative flowers originated as
weeds, which if attractive enough would sometimes be tolerated by farmers because of their appeal. This led to an artificial selection process, producing ever-prettier (to humans) flowers. This is thought to have occurred for the entire history of agriculture, perhaps even slightly earlier, when people tended to favor naturally occurring food-gathering spots. This may also explain why many flowers function as companion plants to more useful agricultural plants; they had evolved that symbiotic relationship with the food plants before either was domesticated, and therefore was found in the same area, convenient to be selected as an attractive plant. Once domesticated, though, most flowers were grown either separately or as part of gardens having some other primary function. In the West, the idea of gardens dedicated to flowers did not become common until the 19th century, though in fact many modern gardens are indeed flower gardens. Gardens can enhance almost any home or business. Flower gardens are, indeed, a key factor in modern landscape design and even architecture, especially for large businesses, some of which pay to have large flower gardens torn out and replaced entirely each season, in order to keep the color patterns consistent.
Cutting Garden
A functional garden used to grow flowers for indoor use rather than outdoor display is known as a cutting garden. It is usually only a feature of
large residences. The cutting garden is typically placed in a fertile and sunlight position out of public view and is not artistically arranged, as it contains flowers for cutting. The cutting garden may comprise a herb garden and ornamental vegetables as well.