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“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.”

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Look at Bravery

One of my choices for the new year is to read and write more. In looking at our home with a modicum of reality, we might be called “book poor.” I tend to describe it as “book rich.”

Yes, there are stacks of books in every room of our home, as well as in attic boxes. Five book shelves are packed two deep with others on layered on top. Baskets of books are in all the rooms, including the kitchen with my well-loved recipe books. (I treasure those that my grandmothers used.)

I am in total agreement with Erasmus when he said, “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”

Two new books were part of my Christmas, and I am halfway through Louise Penny’s new book,  Kingdom of the Blind. And, as usual, this Canadian author had me hooked in only a few pages.

I believe I have to agree with Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice, “I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”

Many eighteenth century women lived on the fringes of written records. Their exploits of tending hearth and home were not the tales of warriors on the battlefield or politicians changing America. Few letters or diaries recount their daily lives of survival, and portraits are even more rare.

My first four books were about Revolutionary War heroines in South Carolina. I immersed myself in that period of history. The role of women, as not only homemakers but vigilant defenders of their turfs themselves, continues to amaze me.

Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson left her home and parents for the colonies, survived early widowhood, and successfully raised three sons. Life-altering events raised havoc in her life, but she refused to be defeated.

With her two youngest sons, Robert and Andrew, confined in the filthy Camden jail by the British, Elizabeth demanded a prisoner exchange.

Read how this might have worked out in the spring of 1780….

“My Lord, I beseech your pardon for my two sons, Robert and Andy Jackson. Word has it that a prisoner exchange is being discussed, and I beg you to add their names to the list. The youngest has only turned fourteen, and Robert is sixteen. I will take responsibility for their future actions,” spoke the seemingly composed, though bedraggled, mother.

Her lilting Irish accent caught Lord Rawdon unawares. Yes, the men in his regiment from Ireland still spoke with their Irish brogue, but the soft and feminine inflections of Elizabeth’s speech obliged him to think of home and his family.

Rawdon did not immediately reply. Looking through the stack of papers on his desk, Rawdon found the list he sought. It was this morning’s registry of those prisoners afflicted with smallpox. Quickly scanning the record, he saw both Robert and Andy Jackson’s names.

A glint in his eye appeared, as he thought how to satisfy the Patriot mother and also protect his men. Allowing the exchange of these sick boys would take the dreaded disease to their home and community and also rid his prison of two with the revolting disease.

Looking up into Elizabeth’s expectant eyes, Rawdon finally answered the silent mother.

“It appears that both your sons have contracted smallpox. I believe it will be best for them to be part of our trade for prisoners. You may pick them up tomorrow.”

I can imagine her quaking heart as she walked in where angels feared to tread, but I admire her bravery and resolve to achieve her sons’ freedom that day and the way she faced all her trials and ordeals. After you have read her story, I believe you will agree.

Brave Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” – C.S. Lewis

Do you agree?

 

Wreathes Across America, 2018

 

 

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REMEMBER the Fallen. . . HONOR those who Serve. . . TEACH our children the value of Freedom.

On Saturday, December 15, 2018 at 12:00 PM, Wreaths Across America was at Buck Creek Baptist Church Cemetery to Remember and Honor veterans through the laying of Remembrance wreaths on the graves of our country’s fallen heroes and the act of saying the name of each and every veteran aloud. Fifty wreaths were placed on all the veteran graves at this cemetery.

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The American Legion is the nation’s largest organization of US wartime veterans. Post 48 in Chesnee, SC was chartered in 1936, and this is the third year they have sponsored a Wreaths Across America ceremony. They plan to continue this tradition.

1215181156.jpgFranklin Wall welcomed about 100 family members and friends at 12:00. He is a fourth generation veteran. His father is buried in this cemetery. In his prayer, he set the tone and intent of the service with his words, “Help us to be salt and light to the world.”

Chesnee High School JROTC posted and retired the colors. Two young women and two young men were in the color guard, and the guidon was one of the girls. Her voice carried through the audience, as she directed their movements.

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All eyes were on the flags. Hats and caps were removed. Right hands were placed over hearts. Most stood straight and tall as the marchers moved to their places. After the group’s singing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” people formed a line to pick up a wreath.

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Then the walk began to the appointed spot.

Five members of the Daniel Morgan Chapter, President John Hoyle, Clark Smith, Mike Rock, Colby Alexander, and my husband John Ingle were there to place a wreath on Revolutionary War veteran, James Turner Sr. Representing the Kate Barry Chapter in Spartanburg, I joined them.

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Born in Virginia in 1753, James Turner served one hundred thirty-four days in the South Carolina militia during 1779, 1781 and 1782 under Capt. Turner and Col. Winn. After the fall of Charleston, he was under Col. Brandon.  Like his father, James Turner was also one of the 2500 men listed has having served with the “Swamp Fox,” General Francis Marion.

J.B.O. Landrum tells the following story of how Turner escaped death at the hands of Tories in his book, History of Spartanburg County:

“One time he was taken prisoner by a band of Tories, who were preparing to kill him at once; but as fortune would have it, one of the Tories said, ‘The first man that hurts Jimmie Turner I will kill him.’ Turner had done this Tory a kindness heretofore, and so his life was saved.”

After the war, he bought land and settled near the Pacolet River.

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Being part of this ceremony was memorable. Even though a misty rain fell during most of the time, no one left. It was an honor to be there to remember our veterans.

In 2017, with the help of thousands of corporate/civic sponsors and volunteers, over 1,5000,000 wreaths were donated and placed at over 1400 participating cemeteries. I wonder how many there were yesterday?

Let’s choose not to forget those who have fought for the freedom of our country.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

President Ronald Reagan

40th president of US (1911 – 2004)

No to “Bah, Humbug”

A long time ago, I committed to memory the last stanza of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” that reads,

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

The converted Ancient Mariner is concerned about how Christians live and challenges the readers to love our neighbors as ourselves.

In one of my favorite Christmas books, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens paints the character of Scrooge as one who has lost the ability to love, but is converted on Christmas Eve. Scrooge’s covetousness takes a 180 degree shift to compassion and generosity. Jacob Marley’s Ghost is only the beginning of a one-night journey that topples Scrooge to his knees.

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175 years ago, A Christmas Carol was written in six weeks and published in October, 1843. Once Dickens had the idea for this novella, he walked the streets of London at night figuring out the details. Dickens’ biographer, John Forster, wrote that the story gripped Dickens. “He wept over it, and laughed, and wept again, and excited himself to an extraordinary degree.”

Sketch of Charles Dickens in 1842

Charles Dickens in 1842

And what a story it is! Ebenezer Scrooge is the epitome of a selfish, money-grubbing miser. Scrooge and his dead partner Marley value money above all else.  They have no love or care for anyone, and their stories are a warning to others that might choose their paths. Dickens’ challenge is to honor the spirit of Christmas all year long.

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The transformation is dramatic. At the onset, Scrooge says, “Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.”

After his ghostly night, his words reflect a significant change. “He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.”

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To make his point clear, Dickens said,  “I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”

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There are quite a few movie versions of  A Christmas Carol, and I look forward to watching them all. This parable challenges and reminds me to keep my eyes open and not turned inward. Perhaps it also speaks to you.

In agreement with Scrooge who proclaims his change of heart, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

What a privilege it has been to serve as the board chair of Children’s Cancer Partners of the Carolinas for the past two years. Our mission is to stand in the gap for families who have children diagnosed with cancer, as we help them with getting their children to treatment centers and doctor visits and other family needs to survive this dreaded diagnosis.

We are in Raleigh, North Carolina, today to host a Christmas party for many of our children. John is playing Santa again this year, as he also will next Sunday at our other party in Spartanburg. What a privilege it is to be part of an organization that works hard to make lives easier all through the year for these hurting families. As Tiny Tim said, “God bless them everyone!”