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Author Archives: Sheila Ingle

Let Spring Begin!

“Beware the Ides of March” is a familiar phrase to those who have read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. These were the Soothsayer’s words to Julius Caesar on his impending death in the play, and on March 15 in 54 BC, Caesar was assassinated.

Another dramatic event happened on this date in 1917.  Czar Nicholas II of Russia abdicated his throne, ending a 304-year-old royal dynasty.

Nicholas II.

Centuries apart, two rulers lost their thrones and places in history, one with a knife and another with a signature

On March 15, 1765, Andrew Jackson was born in the Waxhaws of South Carolina. For the first fifteen years of his life, he lived in this Scots-Irish community. His widowed mother, Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, made sure that her three sons received a good education and religious training. She was a Patriot and believed in the American Revolution, and she modeled for her sons a life of determination to do the right thing, in spite of the odds.

Brave Elizabeth by [Ingle, Sheila]

Next Saturday, March , 2014, there will be a birthday celebration at Andrew Jackson State Park. There will be fun events for all ages as you enjoy his boyhood homeplace. It is a day of living history demonstrations to see what the Carolina Backcountry was like during Jackson’s time. See traditional crafters at work. Listen to historians discuss the legacy of Andrew Jackson. Enjoy the beauty of the park as history comes to life before your eyes.

https://southcarolinaparks.com/andrew-jackson

March is certainly a fickle month, as to weather. Anthing can be expected. As one of my favorite authors described it, “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” Charles Dickens

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Last weekend we went back to Daylight Savings Time and gained an hour of daylight at the end of the day, rather than its beginning. Some like this; others don’t. What we can count on is the worst of winter is certainly behind us, though I didn’t even wear my winter coat this year. So perhaps hope is part of the story of the month of March.

Perhaps you are familiar with the saying about the month of March that says “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” Our area has been confused. Almost daily the temps have jumped around, and the rains have really been a little much. The outside furniture and white fence have turned green from mildew.

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Unsettling are these weather anomalies that surprised us in the South this year. But then changes aren’t what we look for or hanker after. We tend to like to stay with the status quo or what we are familiar with.

Lewis Grizzard has a way with words and said, “Spring time is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.’

Happy Spring!

 

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The Happiest Flowers

March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day are just around the corner.

Some famous people were born in this month, e.g. President Andrew Jackson, singer James Taylor, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, scientist Albert Einstein, and author Dr. Seuss. Women’s History Month claims this month as its own, and daffodils are its flowers. They are a symbol of friendship.

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Though their botanic name is narcissus, daffodils are sometimes called jonquils, and in England, because of their long association with Lent, they’re known as the “Lent Lily.”

Lore connecting the daffodil to not only a sign of winter’s end but a lucky emblem of future prosperity is found throughout the world. In Wales, it’s said if you spot the first daffodil of the season, your next 12 months will be filled with wealth, and Chinese legend has it that if a daffodil bulb is forced to bloom during the New Year, it will bring good luck to your home.

You have probably heard of the Ides of March, however, because it is the day Roman statesman Julius Caesar was assassinated. The immortal words “Beware the Ides of March” are uttered in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to the leader by a fortune-teller.

March was my grandmother’s favorite month. She lived on a dairy farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and winter weather had its own staying-power there. The blooming daffodils in our yard were usually about three weeks ahead of hers. Lulu would call my mom with the definitive morning when her daffodils opening their sunny blossoms. Sometimes they were covered with snow, but Lulu was ecstatic to see those harbingers of spring.

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I am pleased that my daffodils, transplanted from where I grew up, survived the cold rain from last week. Some are limping along and hardly raising their heads to the skies, but their cheerful, yellow stands out in the brown and dreary yard, a welcome sight.

In sixth grade, my teacher had us memorize a poem every month and recite it in front of the class. “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” was her pick for March. Some of the lyrics are still stuck in my head.

Oh, let’s enjoy the daffodils!

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”

BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

 

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

 

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

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Watching and Protecting

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When our son Scott was five, we bought him a border collie. Scott named the puppy Katie. Even though there were no sheep to keep up with, Katie kept up with Scott. Believe she might have thought he was a sheep, because she naturally herded him.

These dogs are naturally affectionate, energetic, and smart. Katie liked to be petted and was most generous with her kisses. Her energy knew no bounds. If she hadn’t had enough exercise, she would race around the yard in circles when she was older. She had intelligent almond eyes that fixed on the person talking to her.

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Keeping Scott from the busy street in front of our house was a priority for her. When the two went for walks, she was in protective mode with ears pointed and eyes looking from side-to-side. They were buddies, and the bond between them lasted.

If Scott’s friends were in the yard, they were also protected.

A neighbor’s old, oak tree fell on our house when Scott was in the sixth grade. It was a Sunday morning before it was time to go to church. Scott and John were still asleep, and I was sipping coffee in the living room. Suddenly there was a loud noise followed by a crash. Our house shook. The tree fell into and across Scott’s room, but the branches landed beside his bed, not on his bed.

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Katie was all over him, seeing if her sheep was okay, and bathed his face with happiness. With unbelief, John and I watched Scott crawl out of his bed into the top of an oak tree that covered most of his bedroom.

I am so grateful for Katie, but I am even more grateful for the Shepherd and His angels that protected Scott that day. It was a visual none of us have forgotten. The ending could have been so different. Scott was shielded by His heavenly Father, His Shepherd. Inches could have made such a difference in the outcome of that tree falling on our house.

Even though we had never prayed about protecting us from a tree falling on our house, our Shepherd knew it was a reality, and He provided His shelter.

Psalm 121:1-4

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not suffer my foot to be moved. He that keepeth Israel/you/Scott/me/ His sheep will neither slumber nor sleep.

 

“Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral”

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a traditional Irish cottage

My cousin Bobby reminded me today of a song that our grandmother/Lulu/Nanny used to sing, and I grabbed onto the memory. It was Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral  (That’s an Irish Lullaby).

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Lulu lived in a two-story house on Mirror Lake Farm.  When we were growing up, there were few houses on Shelbyville Road, and most were on farm land. My grandmother would walk around the house with her arms swaying and sing her favorite song of the moment. There never seemed to be a reason for her sudden vocalizing, except she wanted to. Often we would follow in her wake, trying to mimic her steps, as well as the lyrics, in a new game of Follow the Leader.

Over in Killarney, many years ago
My Mother sang a song to me in tones so sweet and low,
Just a simple little ditty, in her good ould Irish way,
And I’d give the world if she could sing That song to me this day.

[Refrain]
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
Hush now don’t you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
That’s an Irish lullaby.

[Verse 2]
Oft, in dreams I wander To that cot again,
I feel her arms a huggin’ me As when she held me then.
And I hear her voice a hummin’ To me as in days of yore,
When she used to rock me fast asleep Outside the cabin door.

[Repeat refrain]

Written in 1913 for a play, it became popular in 1944 when Bing Crosby released it as a single. Listen to him sing this Irish lullaby.

And here are the Irish Tenors singing it.

Believe it might be time for a nap now!

As Barbara Jordan said, “Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”

February Doldrums, Not!

John celebrates his birthday in February, as do I. And then we also have the valentine holiday in between.

Earlier today, he told me what he wanted for his birthday, which is today. He would like for us both to stand outside on the stoop of my study/office/sun porch and face his Little House Studio. Then I am to sing “Happy birthday” to him. I like the idea, but believe I will wait until the neighbors are off to work.

In his play, Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare asks the question,

“Why, what’s the matter, That you have such a February face, So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”

Yes, it is another February day, but it isn’t cloudy or cold! The weatherman is calling for our third day of temps in the 70’s. What a wonder and blessing!

William James said, “The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.”

The daffodils in my yard would agree, since they are half out of the ground. They obviously don’t know that it is only February 7. And one of the forsythia bushes has one, bright, yellow bloom. New growth on bushes and blooms on some of our neighborhood trees also are in agreement.

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So what about Groundhog Day this year? Punxsutawney Phil could not find his shadow only five days ago. And as the legend goes, this means we’re in for an early spring.

This animal oracle was officially named in 1887 by a group of groundhog hunters, and next year this prognosticator still celebrates years of hits-and-misses.

A.J. Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil after he did not see his shadow Saturday on Groundhog Day.

Believe it or not, Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day. The clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for the winter. These candles were always long, and many, because expectations were clear for a cold winter.

This Christian holiday is celebrated annually, mainly in Catholic and Church of England congregations, on February 2. It celebrates three occasions: the presentation of the child Jesus, Jesus’ first entry into the temple, and the Virgin Mary’s purification. There is emphasis on Jesus being the light of the world, and so the candles become important.

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Germans pushed this thought a bit further by selecting a hedgehog for predicting the weather. When German settlers came to America, they continued the tradition, except they switched to the groundhog predictions, which were more plentiful than hedgehogs.

Anne Lamott said, “I am going to notice the lights of the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars, the lights of our candles as we march, the lights with which spring teases us, the light that is already present.”

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One children’s song has the refrain,”This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine. This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

Seems like Mister Rogers believed in spreading light, because it was always a “beautiful day in the neighborhood.” So shall we choose light today? And shall we share light?

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Yummy Hot Chocolate Day

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This sweet treat dates back almost 2,000 years to the Mayan people.

The Mayans of Central America are believed to be the first to discover cocoa as early as 900 AD. They learned that the beans inside the cocoa pods could be harvested and made into a liquid that would become a treasured Mayan treat. They traded three pods for one pumpkin.

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Mayan chocolate was very different than the chocolate we know today. It was a liquid made from crushed cocoa beans, chili peppers, and water. (There was no sugar in Central America.) They poured the liquid from one cup to another until a frothy foam appeared on top. In fact, the word ‘chocolate’ is said to come from the Mayan word ‘xocolatl’ which means ‘bitter water.’

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It may have been bitter water, but it was held in such high esteem that Mayans called it the “food of the gods.” Cocoa was so revered that images of cocoa pods were painted on the walls of stone temples and Mayan artifacts have been found that show kings and Mayan gods drinking chocolate. Cocoa was often consumed during religious ceremonies and marriage celebrations. All Mayans could enjoy cocoa, regardless of their social status.

Cocoa beans were very valuable. The Aztecs used them as money, and were very protective of their beans. They paid for food, clothes, taxes, gifts, and offerings to their gods using cocoa beans. Having a pocket full of beans was like having a wallet full of cash. As far as the Aztecs were concerned, money really did grow on trees.

Chocolate arrived in Florida on a Spanish ship in 1641. It’s thought the first American chocolate house opened in Boston in 1682. By 1773, cocoa beans were a major American colony import and chocolate was enjoyed by people of all classes. Chocolate pots became a rage.

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Unsurprisingly, Benjamin Franklin himself was in on the early American chocolate craze, and even sold chocolate out of his printing shop in Philadelphia.

During the Revolutionary War, chocolate was provided to the military as rations and sometimes given to soldiers as payment instead of money. This chocolate came from the West Indies. Because of its caffeine and high calorie content, it was a reliable source of energy for soldiers on the front. Chocolate consumption among Americans dates back to colonial times—George Washington and the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War would have consumed chocolate as a hot beverage, for example.

Chocolate cups, like this one owned by George and Martha Washington, were typical of the colonial era. Most chocolate cups had two handles, on opposing sides, while tea cups of the period had no handles at all. Image credit: George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, and Gardens’ 2012 annual Colonial Chocolate Society meeting presentation.Chocolate cups, like this one owned by George and Martha Washington, were typical of the colonial era. Most chocolate cups had two handles, on opposing sides, while tea cups of the period had no handles at all. Image credit: George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Chocolate was also provided as K rations to soldiers during World War II.

K-ration; original outer green color cardboard box contains: waxed cardboard box shell with “CHESTERFIELD” cigarette pack, toilet paper packet, one stick of gum, and eight biscuits, confectionery chocolate D bar, bouillon powder packet, can of pork loaf; manufactured by the Kellogg Company; World War II era.

In fact, the U.S. War Department collaborated with chocolate manufacturers to produce Ration D bars, especially suitable for extreme temperatures sometimes encountered on the front. A mixture of chocolate, sugar, powdered milk, oat flour, and vitamins provided 600 calories per serving and made a very effective survival food.

Box for U.S. Army Field Ration D (

The Ration D chocolate bar was designed to withstand extreme temperatures and provide substantial energy for troops.

Brown, yellow, and blue wrapped “Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate” bar. Small print on the top reads, “REG. U.S. PAT. OFF”. Small print on the side of bar reads, “MANUFACTURED BY HERSHEY CHOCOLATE CORPORATION, HERSHEY, PA.” The top left corner of the wrapper is torn, revealing the inner foil wrapping. Another variant of the Ration D bar was Hershey’s Tropical Bar, used commonly in the Pacific Theater.

Studies have shown chocolate contains antioxidants that can reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. Chocolate contains many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and biochemical compounds—all of which help give our body a satisfying health boost. Hot chocolate even increases the microcirculation in your skin. Who knew a hot chocolate obsession could be so good for our health?

Also, it’s a mood booster. When we drink hot chocolate, its chemical compounds signal the brain to release endorphins and serotonin, which elicit our feelings of calmness. These neurotransmitters work to reduce pain and stress, keeping us worry-free and happy! Hot chocolate is clearly happiness in a cup.

So the decision for today is how many cups of chocolate are needed to celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day. Enjoy!
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Sitting Up With the Dead, an Appalachian Custom

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The word Appalachia is an old Indian word, and it means “endless mountain range.” The Cherokee Indians who lived there thought the Appalachian Mountains went on forever and ever. Covering thirteen states today, gazing out the windows of a car or stopping at a look-out site give the same sense of forever to these mountains. Their beauty is breath-taking.

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Pioneer Ulster Scots and Scots-Irish settled the mountains of Appalachia during the 18th century. Proudly, they brought their heritage with them, which included an allegiance to family, friends, and faith, the Presbyterian faith. Gravitating to the rocky terrain, so like their homeland of Scotland, they sought new lives. Independent and self-reliant to the core, they also were protective of each other. Their helping hands reached out to kith and kin.

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Sitting up with the dead, also called a wake, is one of the ways they stuck close to each other. It showed respect for the person and his life. It might have been adopted from the Jewish tradition of sitting with a dead body until burial. Called in Hebrew shemira, which means guarding or watching.

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Their lives were hard, and a home funeral brought comfort to the bereaved. These wakes could last for days, as mourners traveled from many hollers. Generally, the guests paid their respects to the dead, then went into another room for sandwiches, coffee and a long visit. Some pulled up chairs beside the handmade coffin or leaned against the walls.

The women in the family prepared the body. It was an open casket, and usually a handmade quilt covered the body, along with flowers and sweet-smelling herbs. The body was dressed in the Sunday-best clothes, which might have been clean overalls and never left alone.

In describing the Appalachian people, John Muir said “You are not in the mountains, the mountains are in you.” When my husband’s family left the mountains of Erwin, Tennessee, to take jobs in the cotton mills of South Carolina, they brought their culture with them.

Just like their Appalachian forebearers, wakes were still part of the grieving process into the twentieth century.

Oliver Edward Ingle, my husband’s father, passed away on December 6, 1968 at the Wallace Thompson Hospital in Union, South Carolina. Though embalming was the funeral home’s job then to prepare the body, the family still held a wake at his home. In the living room, John and his brothers greeted their father’s siblings, cousins, and neighbors all through the night, while their mother slept sedated, overcome with the shock. They pulled the sofa in front of the fireplace, because it was the only heat in the house, and brought in the solid oak, kitchen chairs for extra seating.

The percolator kept them plied with coffee, and the women of Allen Memorial Baptist had filled the table with food. Emotions were high, as the reality of loss crept in the door. There were times during the night that only the sons sat steadily before the fire. These stoic brothers, still in shock from their father’s sudden death that day, passed the night sharing memories, tears, stories, and laughter.

For almost twenty-four hours, Tom, John, Buck, and Jim Ingle kept a vigil in the house their father had built.

When a ship moves across the water, it leaves a wake in its path. It is a concrete sign that shows the ship’s passage, and it can be followed. Sometimes it spreads out and touches other ships or a shoreline.

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At a funeral wake, people talk about how they have been touched by a life, remember stories about the person, and even think about how different life will be without that person. Sharing these memories affirms a life and what has been left in his wake. And even though we can’t see them anymore, we won’t and can’t forget.

As Navy veterans, the Ingle sons celebrated the wake of their father’s life that night and into the days that followed.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” Philippians 1:3 ESV