CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

April 21, 2011

Ladybug, Ladybug, From Whence Did You Come?

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

LADYBUG, LADYBUG, FROM WHENCE DID YOU COME?

     The first spring of our new home I went to an upstairs room. There, the floor was covered with ladybug carcasses. Where did they come from? Had they wintered in the woodwork? I’d never seen so many of the red creatures with black dots on their backs.

        When my granddaughter Jordan was younger, that is, toddler age, she loved ladybugs. I can’t say the same about me during this invasion of their ilk, although in other settings I find them intriguing.

     Although many parts of the world consider the ladybug a good-luck symbol, I don’t recall having that much extra good luck during or after the invasions. In China the ladybug is known as (more…)

June 9, 2010

Rabbit’s Foot Fern

 

RABBIT'S FOOT FERN

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

 

 

RABBIT’S FOOT FERN

     The plant sits on my filing cabinet during the winter and on my patio railing during the summer. My finger gently strokes the furry length of one of the tarantula-like legs that extend over the edge of the flower pot. I caress the soft “hairs” that are a delightful blend of tans and browns, a characteristic that makes the leg resemble a rabbit’s foot.

     My finger must gently bypass the delicate, lacey, ferns that grow out of the plant known as the “rabbit’s foot fern.”

     I received the unique plant from a good friend, Virginia DePew, around 1978. We were living in rural Slippery Rock then. Virginia and her husband, Elmer, were our neighbors. I am reminded of them at the times I care for and/or enjoy the plant.

     Last spring, I realized that the plant was root-bound. It wasn’t until this spring that I decided to repot it, separating it into multiple plants which I could pass on to friends and relatives.

     Once separated, I figured that I needed to supply information on the plant with those who were receiving its starts, including friends and members of the Beanery Writers Group.

     I also gave starts to the Conservatory, a plant and gift shop for gardeners on Rt. 30 in Laughlintown, PA. Persons visiting the shop, open betweenMay 1 and September 30, can ask the owner, Terry Coyne, about the plant. Her shop is open Friday through Monday, 11:00 to 6:00.

     To research the plant, I did my usual: surf the Internet. There I learned that the plant is a (more…)

April 18, 2010

Discovering Hardy Lavender

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS 

DISCOVERING HARDY LAVENDER

     Laundresses once hung their linens and clothes on its branches.

     Archeological evidence shows it was used in the ancient Egyptian, Phoenician, and Arabian mummification process.

     King Charles VI of France sat on seat cushions stuffed it.

     It was once called “Four Thieves Vinegar.”

     What is it?

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      It is lavender.

     The likely root of the word lavender is Lavare, a Latin verb meaning “to wash.” This root gave way to laundresses once being called “lavenders.”  Another possible root is the Latin word “livendulo,” meaning livid or bluish.

     Used in the process of mummification, excavators found unguent-filled jars, containing something resembling lavender, at the opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb.

     England’s King Louis XIV not only enjoyed the scent of lavender that was emitted from the seat cushions he sat on, he enjoyed bathing in lavender-scented water. French royalty Charles VI demanded lavender-filled pillows wherever he went.

     During the 17th century Bubonic Plague in London, grave-robbers, caught pilfering the belongings of plague victims confessed that their infrequency of suffering from the deadly disease was due to washing in a mixture of lavender and vinegar after they completed their dangerous task.

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      While researching information for my historical romance novel, Intertwined Love, (www.intertwined.love.wordpress.com ) the lavender plant was mentioned. This made me curious: is the plant something I might work into the novel?

     Numerous questions came to mind. Does the plant grow in the cold climate of Maine? If it doesn’t grow in Maine, was it imported there? What is the folklore connected with lavender?

     I jumped online to surf the web, starting with the question about growing the plant in Maine. The first site claimed (to continue reading this post, click on: http://intertwinedlove.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/discovering-hardy-lavender/ )

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ADDITIONAL READING:

January Catalogues Lead to June Gardens

Laurel Mountain Borough, Pennsylvania: Quaint

My Spider Plant Lives: A Devotion

You are invited to visit Intertwined Love’s blog site

My Childhood Home: 29 Spring St., Portsmouth, N. H.

Amish Grace, Thomas Cornell, & Intertwined Love: Risks of Writing Historical Fiction

January 12, 2010

January Catalogues Lead to June Gardens

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

JANUARY CATALOGUES LEAD TO JUNE GARDENS

January: Mail Order Gardening Month

      January 2010.

     A time to cozy up on a comfortable sofa, encased in a favorite blanket. A time to  drink a favorite warm beverage—coffee, tea, hot chocolate—and delve into your stack of unread books while watching the snow fall and blow.

     A time to heat your home to the temperature you were complaining about last summer. A time to whine about the constant and excessive snowfalls, the bitter cold wintry weather.

     A time to yearn for warmer days of 2010.

     In that vein, you gather the daily mail, filled with gardening catalogues, and begin to dream about (more…)

June 2, 2009

Violet infestation? Why complain?

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

VIOLET INFESTATION? WHY COMPLAIN?

      As I sat on my comfortable couch this winter, watching the snow drift with the winds and the birds fly to and from the window bird feeder, I was invited to contemplate on the number of blades of grass that would be on my lawn come summer. This invitation, in a Vital Stats column, Growth Industry, (the May 2003 Pittsburgh Magazine), states that the “Number of blades of grass on the Cathedral of Learning lawn” is 278,784,000.

     Naturally, my mind wonders about my lawn—and I wonder how I could ever count the blades of grass on it. I recollect how I once did red blood cell counts (I once worked as a hematology technician doing differential counts under a microscope). A section of blood, smeared on a slide and stained, is counted, and the total is projected from that count. Ah, so I could take a patch of lawn, say three inches square, and count the blades of grass in it. There are sixteen of these squares in (more…)

April 28, 2009

Spring…the joy and pathos of the…DANDELION

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SPRING…the JOY and the PATHOS of the…DANDELION

 

     It’s truly spring. The sprouting signs would declare the season even if we lacked calendars. In Westmoreland County (PA) the high 80s and low 90s temperature on April 24-25, 2009, were perfect for the Ryan and Sarah Adamosky Rumbaugh’s wedding. In addition to being a friend of the family, I was the ceremony photographer.

     Signs other than the temperature indicate we are experiencing spring. The pear tree (more…)

February 12, 2009

CANDIED VIOLETS: Remembering My Mother on Her Birthday

     While living in the home we built in Slippery Rock, in the midst of seventy acres, part of our experience is what many would describe as “back to earth.” We gardened, canned, kept chickens. We also had lots of violets that bloomed in the spring and in the fall. (click to view photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolyncholland/3271288076/ )
     It was the early seventies when I discovered that one could make what was considered a delicacy: candied violets, a violet blossom preserved by (more…)

June 23, 2008

BLACK FLIES AND OTHER INSECTS: Then and Now

Eight years after purchasing our retirement home, and five years after moving in full time, I finally am doing some very belated “landscaping” work.

Lest you consider us slothful, we had done some outside work in previous years—two years ago my husband, Monte, and son, Nolan, removed big rocks in our woods, then  made a path between (more…)

June 19, 2008

PLANT FOOD RECIPE: Making Compost

SUPPLIES
One 4 foot x 4 foot x four foot container
Pitchfork
Watering can or hose

INGREDIENTS

2-3 wheelbarrow loads of green stuff such as grass clippings, weeds, kitchen plant material
2-3 wheelbarrow loads of brown stuff, such as fall leaves, corn stalks, dead plants, chopped grasses
Water

DIRECTIONS: (more…)

April 27, 2008

A KUDZU COVERED VEHICLE GRAVEYARD

Summer is vacation time. This item is a warning for Northerners visiting the southeastern states…

Among America’s many enemies, none is more disastrous than Pueraria Lobata, commonly known as KUDZU.

Residents of the southeastern United States, where it grows prolifically, must prepare for sporadic, unpredictable energy blackouts not caused by (more…)

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