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Posts from November 2006

Paper Cranes for Peace


Geraniums on the Window Sill / New Jersey / Nov. 06

It's the last day of November and yet the geranium is still blooming (this one is inside on the window sill, but I've seen them still blooming outside). Interestingly, when I looked up the origins of the word "geranium" I found this:

1548, from L. geranium, from Gk. geranion, dim. of geranos "crane" (cognate with L. grus, Eng. crane), from supposed resemblance of seed pods to cranes' bills; the native name was also cranebill.

The word "cranberry" comes from crane, too:

1647, Amer.Eng. adaptation of Low Ger. kraanbere, from kraan "crane" + M.L.G. bere "berry," perhaps from a resemblance between the plants' stamens and the beaks of cranes. 

In some cultures the crane is associated with a celebration of peace and prayers for those who are lost in war. According to a Japanese tradition, if you fold 1000 origami cranes your wish for health will be granted. And because of a young girl in Japan (Sadako Sasaki), paper cranes have also become an international symbol of peace.

Learn how to make your own origami paper cranes (Paper Cranes: Step-by-Step Instructions).

Hoodle-Doodle Bird


Guarding Trsat Castle / Rijeka, Croatia / May 2005

This sculpture in Rijeka, Croatia reminded us of our very own Jersey Devil. The legend starts in the Jersey Pine Barrens in the 1700s when "Mother Leeds" gave birth to her 13th child (when she found she was pregnant with her 13th she said, "Devil can take the next one."; and he did). Most accounts say the Jersey Devil has the body of a man with a horse-like head, hoofed hind legs, giant bat wings, and a long pointed tail like a devil. Many first-person sightings have been recorded (including one in 1870 by a Long Beach fisherman who said he saw the Jersey Devil serenading a mermaid).

You can investigate for yourself. The Pinelands Preservation Alliance regularly conducts Jersey Devil Hunts that start in Wharton State Forest with a campfire and some old-time music (to calm the nerves), then heads off by the light of the moon to search the woods.

Maybe you'll find the Hoodle-Doodle Bird (another name for the Jersey Devil) gorging itself on the fruit of the pines: cranberries.

On a Cranberry Kick


Is this a beautiful color or what? Cranberry Horseradish Sauce. I'm definitely on a cranberry kick. And horseradish is good for you, too (lots of flavor and no fat). This wild pink concoction caught my eye at the store and even though I had already paid, I had to try it. It's got a fresh, zesty flavor with that startling horseradish bite at the back of your mouth.

You can make it yourself (recipe after the jump).

Continue reading "On a Cranberry Kick" »

Sun is Bending Low


Sun is Bending Low / New Jersey, Nov. '05

The weather this Thanksgiving weekend has been warm; perfect weather for an afternoon walk just before the sun, bending low, sets behind the trees.

"That was quite a climb over the hill!
How rich the fragrance of the woods and the earth; how spice-like but cool; everything cool and growing cooler; a sharp frost, tonight, I should say; and the sun is bending low; and the air is taking on a deeper chill; let us walk faster!"

-- Louis H. Sullivan (Kindergarten Chats and Other Writings, 1918)

Bounceberries for Peace


Cranberry (aka Bounceberry) / New Jersey / Nov. 2006

New Jersey's native Indians, the Lenni-Lenape, used these glossy red berries for food, medicine, and as a symbol of peace during tribal feasts.

Cranberries are an antioxidant and high in phytochemicals, so it's one of the healthiest things you can eat. Studies suggest that it lowers cholesterol, may help prevent heart disease and certain cancers, and may provide protection against loss of coordination and memory in old age. Sailors took them to sea to help prevent scurvy since they are also high in Vitamin C.



Girl carrying boxes of cranberries to loading station, Burlington County, New Jersey (Three-fourths of the cranberry pickers are children) / Oct. 1938 / Arthur Rothstein, photographer (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-USF33- 002856-M3

According to legend, a one-legged New Jersey schoolteacher named John (Peg Leg) Webb was the first to bounce cranberries down a flight of stairs to determine their freshness. The squishy ones never made it to the bottom. You can try this yourself. 

-- Jonathan Reynolds, The New York Times

The cranberry is native to New Jersey and a traditional side on the Thanksgiving table. Because they contain so much air they are sometimes called "bounceberries."

Continue reading "Bounceberries" »

Article the First


For greater knowledge on more subjects use your library often! / V. Donaghue / Chicago : Illinois WPA Art Project, [1940] / Poster promoting library use, showing a man in a pose based on Rodin's "Thinker" / Work Projects Administration Poster Collection (Library of Congress) / LC-USZC2-5223 DLC

On this date, November 20th, in the year 1789, New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights -- the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution.

. . . The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of Public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution; . . .

The Process is Cosmological

Marigolds Still Blooming on November 16th / New Jersey '05

The only hope Mother Earth has for survival is our recovering creativity -- which is of course, our divine power. Creativity is so satisfying, so important, not because it produces something but because the process is cosmological. There's joy and delight in giving birth. 

-- Matthew Fox (author of Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet)

And thanks to my Paulo for the inspiration of summer flowers still blooming deep into fall.

Continue reading "The Process is Cosmological" »

Heidi vs. Joe Namath


Leaves in the Bird Bath / Late-Fall Afternoon in New Jersey '06

Do you know what happened 38 years ago today? . . . the infamous "Heidi Bowl"! It was a Sunday night and there was one minute left in NBC's broadcast of the football game between the NY Jets (with QB Joe Namath) and the Oakland Raiders. The Jets were leading 32 to 29. A movie about the little girl Heidi who goes to live with her Grandfather in Switzerland was scheduled to start on the East Coast at 7:00. "No televised football game had ever gone longer than three hours before, and executives weren't sure what to do. Timex had paid a lot of money to advertise during Heidi, and network executives figured the Jets would win the game anyway, so after the commercial break, the movie began. Football fans were enraged. So many people called to complain that the NBC telephone switchboard in New York City blew 26 fuses." (via Writers Almanac)

After NBC switched to the movie the Raiders scored two touchdowns in a nine-second span and held on to win the game, 43-32.

I grew up in a house with a father and four brothers who watch football. I remember this event as much as anything in my childhood. And I'm not the only one. The Heidi Game was voted the most memorable regular-season game in NFL history by a select group of media in a 1997 poll taken in conjunction with the NFL's 10,000th regular-season game (Oakland Raiders).

[NBC ran a "crawl" at the bottom of the screen during Heidi, reporting the result more than 20 minutes after the game had ended.]