Sunday, April 9, 2017

Easter Eggs

Easter is one of the most recognized Holy Days or Holidays throughout the world - be that if a person is religious or not. And with Easter comes the idea of hiding colored eggs for little children to search for before screaming in delight at the discovery of one of those elusive little treasures.

Hiding eggs or just sort of CREEPY?
An Easter egg is something to marvel about.when looked closely at with an artists eye. The decorative talent, the colors of paints but the question why would someone spend so much time illuminating an egg is always there.  It's that very thing - the why, the how, the when questions which are constantly driving a researcher.

Questions abound within the minds of explorers and thus J and L did a little of their own research on this subject.

Colored ostrich eggs of at least 60,000 years have been found in Africa. For what purpose is still being debated.

Talent from 60,000 years ago - okay recently but . . . 
Early Mesopotamia and Egyptian people looked upon eggs as being associated with birth and death. Five thousand years ago the Sumerians and Egyptians placed golden eggs within tombs as a reminder of the rebirth after death.

Okay - not an egg but a nice watch - it is gold though

Sumerian death golden egg - not a Rolex but cool anyway 
The idea for Christians to use painted or colored eggs during Easter came from a story - some say a myth at the time of the death of Jesus Christ. As Jesus was dying on the cross Mary, his mother supposedly brought a basket of eggs and laid them at the foot of the cross where her son was crucified. Drops of his blood spilled down staining the eggs red. The early Christians celebrated coloring eggs red after that as a memory of his sacrifice for humankind.

Red - the color of blood
Around 1610, and some researchers believe earlier, the Christian Church officially recognized the painted eggs as the sign of resurrection of Jesus Christ. From there the eggs became more and more decorated through the ages.

During Lent (the forty days prior to the resurrection of Jesus) many people fast as a show of penance. The idea is simple - if Jesus gave his life for all of us surely I can give up something meaningful to show my respect. But the forty days of giving up something can weigh on a person and many can not make it resurrection Sunday.

The term Mardi Gras actually refers to the last day before giving up rich and fatty foods. And what does one usually have related to rich and fatty foods (like cakes, sweets and every desert our doctors complain about us eating) - eggs. Chickens unfortunately do not fast from producing eggs. At the end of the forty days there are a lot of eggs laying around and should not be wasted.

I  like  Fat Tuesday - not saying I'm fat but you gotta love the beads
So, there is a great idea - color them, hide them, hunt them, and eat them. No sense in wasting eggs but they do have to be eaten quickly!

But there are still current traditions.

Even today in the country of Romania the practice of keeping gaily painted eggs within a household still stands. They, the eggs, will deter evil spirits from invading the abode and provide assurance of good luck.
We hate eggs - you're safe . . .  unless you have some good Salsa!
In the town of Haux in France on Easter Monday a huge omelet is served in the town square which feeds up to 1,000 people. Over forty-five hundred eggs are used - that's a lot of eggs!

They want hash browns too - you've gotta be kidding!
And of course in the good old U.S.A. there is the Easter egg roll on the south lawn of the White House. Rolling hard boiled eggs with a wooden spoon doesn't sound like fun but it is for the folks, mainly little ones, who partake in this annual tradition.

Drop the spoon and just run!!! There's a big bunny after you!
So the Easter Egg has been around a very long time in many traditions but the point is that it is an important aspect of a day respected world wide.

No matter the reason you and your family decorate the little creation from a chicken just enjoy the thought behind it - no matter what that thought would be.

Happy Easter from J and L.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Super Bloom 2017

Even doggies like flowers
It's blooming flowers - no kidding -- like magic in the Southern California deserts!

The usual brown and seemingly lifeless appearance of the deserts (of course, we know that's not true since we've written about the vibrant life of the desert before) have truly sprung to life this spring.

From the desert sunflowers to ghost flowers, from ocotillo to Canterbury bells and beavertail cactus, the desert is now a carpet of beauty. So much so that people from around the world are traveling to Southern California to witness first hand this phenomenon. March came in like a bushel of roses -- okay, perhaps not, but there are literally billions of blossoms blooming.

And most people believed it was only Disneyland or Universal Studios which could cause such a mad rush into the southern section of the most populous state in the union.

Park Ranger Bier loving the blooming

According to a recent Southern California Public Radio spot called "California Deserts in' Super Bloom' thanks to a Wet Winter" the host, Mandalit del Barco spoke of the beauty of the deserts because of the vast amount of rain California has received.

During the radio interview Anza-Borrego park ranger Steve Bier stated, "I'm looking at a whole field of this bluish purple phacelia. And in this foreground of the Coyote Mountains, that's nothing but poppies going 5, 6 miles up-canyon."

The reason for the sudden blooming of beauty is due to the fact California had been locked into a drought for five years, but the end of 2016 and especially the beginning of 2017 the heavens opened up. Inches upon inches of rain pummeled the state from the border of Mexico to the border of Oregon. The wild flower seeds had lain dormant for years waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

And came along it did - just in Anza-Borrego State Park alone during the winter months of 2016 over six inches of rain fell which is generally how much the park gets in an entire year. No matter, the seeds were ready and willing to sprout.

Reference the stubborn seeds, Bier told Barco that some of the seeds may have lain undisturbed for decades if not even a century - of course this isn't exact but the park's best guess according to their biologists. Some of the areas which received the heavies rains had not experienced a drop from ten to twenty years.

It isn't just the low lying deserts but throughout Southern California - Temecula, Lake Elsinore, Murrieta, and many other areas. They're coming up roses. Well, not roses but the fields are blooming.

The bloom is not over for a few more weeks and the lower deserts bloom a bit more quickly since the temperature is warmer and the same superbloom will be coming to the higher deserts where it is slowly warming up. Making a perfect growing season for the dormant seeds. Antelope Valley, the Mojave Desert, and other High Desert areas will be having quite a show coming up in the next few weeks.

Mother Nature is an odd sort and not one to second guess. A seed buried in the sands of a most inhospitable climate for half a century and then in a blink of an eye they sprout causing a sea of unbelievable color and beauty could be called a miracle.

We decided to keep this short as always a picture tells a thousand words. We believe you will agree with us that millions upon millions of little miracles happened and is happening in the far out reaches of the Southern California deserts.

Go on out - if you happen to be in the area - and take a moment to stop and smell the wild flowers.

Death Valley in bloom

Thursday, March 9, 2017

St. Patrick's Day

 Laureen waiting for St. Patty's Day on the Isle of the Green
Holidays are generally times for fun and frivolity - what a great word -  (noun) the trait of being frivolous; not serious or sensible.

Definitely frivolity - or just bad dancing
Not sure that is what we are going to discuss here about Saint Patrick's Day being a frivolous day to celebrate, but through the centuries it has turned to a day of green beer and shenanigans  - oh, that's another good one - (noun) mischief; prankishness.

Shenanigans - no doubt
No, this wonderfully festive holiday is to honor a saint of the Catholic Church.  A young lad, this is how many of these stories start, born in Britain during the Roman occupation of the fifth century who was kidnapped and brought to Ireland at the age of 16.

The lad, Maewyn Succat, who came from a successful family - his father was actually a Roman- British army officer - was kidnapped from Britain and transported to Ireland as a slave by the Picts.

The Picts may have been early Celts who wandered for a long while fighting various factions in the British Kingdoms but never were able to stage a stronghold for their tattooed warriors and were always on the march looking for gentler lands. It is believed they originated from Scotland.

A Pict warrior - scary!
With the presence of the Romans and later the Vikings, these homelands never really became a reality for the Picts who basically just wandered about from here to there - mainly there.

But we digress.

This is about Maewyn Succat who later became Patrick when he became a priest in the Catholic Church. After being kidnapped, he served as a shepherd for the one who enslaved him for six years. But then a miraculous thing happened, it usually does when one is destined to become a saint - can't have a regular thing happen since that wouldn't spark much of an interest from anyone actually. God appeared to Maewyn in either a voice or a dream - depends on the research - telling him that if he made his way to the coast of Ireland, a boat would take him to freedom. It should be noted that he had become closer to God as he tended the sheep and that is the reason for the visit from God.

After the vision, Patrick hot-footed it to the coast from County Mayo (where it is believed he had been held) and yes, a boat was waiting and off he sailed to freedom back to England and then he traveled on to France. He studied his faith under the guidance of St. Germain who was the bishop of Auxerre. After completing twelve years of training, Patrick - as was now called after accepting his vocation - knew that Ireland was where he was supposed to be to spread the word of his church. The pagans who had imprisoned him needed to hear the word of God and no matter the danger - an escaped slave risked bring killed on sight - Patrick headed back into hostile territory.

He had a mission to return to Ireland
One problem with the above was there were a lot of Catholics already residing in Ireland when Patrick returned but there were also more non-Christians, who were his main focus. Knowing the Irish as well as he did, Patrick realized the way to the hearts of these people wasn't discounting the way they worshiped but to incorporate traditions they already had. One example was the bonfire the locals used on Easter to honor the pagan gods with fire. Patrick used this to show a sun superimposed upon a cross thus giving the Irish their own special cross called the Celtic cross.

Celtic Cross as St. Patrick envisioned it
Patrick remained in Ireland for twenty years converting and obtaining fellow missionaries to follow in his footsteps. He gave gifts to the people, including nobility, but never accepted one in return. His whole purpose was spreading the word of God to the Irish and establishing dozens of monasteries within the boundaries of the island of Ireland.

On March 17, 461, in Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, Patrick died, and thus the reason for the celebration of his life every March 17th.

He had written a book in his later years as an autobiography, explaining his life and the path he had chosen to travel. It is entitled Confessio. The title makes perfectly good sense considering he was a Catholic priest and the whole confession thing.

So, with the more secular holiday St. Patrick's Day has become - it was once only celebrated by Catholics - with shamrocks, leprechauns, Celtic fairies and the like it should be remembered that a real man with a real mission in life lived and died.

A Guinness - St. Patty would be proud

He had a dream from God to return to a place that had kept him a prisoner for the sole purpose of saving their souls. Yes, a play on words.

Anyway - Happy St. Patrick's Day from J and L!

After celebrating St. Patty's Day - a nap is needed sometimes