Thursday, July 31, 2008


"Lugh" by Ayrtha
Last year on August 1, I wrote a post about Lammas, the festival of the first wheat harvest, an Olde English holiday I wish we celebrated here. This year, I revised the post and added information about the earlier Celtic festival of Lughnasadh (loo-nahs-ah).

Madron, Mother Goddess
From "Enchanted Moon" website

The word Lammas means Loaf Mass. On Lammas Day, it was the custom to bake a loaf of bread from the new crop of wheat and bring it to church. Parishioners sang "Bringing in the Sheaves" and decorated their church with wheat sheaves and corn dollies (made from wheat, not maize). American celebrating Lammas make corn husk dolls.

In Scotland, the first cut of the harvest was made on Lammas Day, in a ritual called the “Iolach Buana”. The entire family dressed in their finest clothing and went to the fields. The head of the family would lay his bonnet on the ground and cut the first handful of grain with a sickle. He would then twirl it around his head three times while thanking the god of the harvest "for corn and bread, food and flocks, wool and clothing, health and strength, and peace and plenty.”

"Lugh" by Morgaine du Mer

Like so many Christian holidays, Lammas was actually “stolen” from the ancient Celtic harvest holiday Lughnasadh, also spelled Lughnasad, Lughnassad and Lughnasa. It is named after Lugh, the Irish/Celtic sun god.

It is thought by some to be the funeral or wake of Lugh, the sun king, whose light is now beginning to dwindle. A more correct interpretation, however, is that it was established by Lugh to commemorate the life of his foster mother, Tailtiu, the goddess of agriculture who died while clearing the Irish forests in preparation for planting.

Lughnasadh was a traditional time for hand fasting, a temporary marriage. Couples would join hands through a hole in a stone, wall or gate, and plight their troth for a year and a day. If the hand fasting did not work out, the couple returned to next year’s gathering and officially separated by standing back to back and walking away from each other.

Lammas card from "Healings of Atlantis" website
In early Ireland, Lughnasadh involved great tribal assemblies, with trading, feasting, music and games, and crafters displaying their wares. Right up to the middle of this century, English country people celebrated the harvest at revels, wakes, and fairs – and some still continue today. It was usually celebrated on the nearest Sunday to August 1st, so that a whole day could be set aside from work.

Rural folk sang and danced jigs and reels and held uproarious sporting contests and races. In some places, a woman—or an effigy of one—was crowned with summer flowers and seated on a throne, with garlands strewn at her feet. Dancers whirled around her, touching her garlands or pulling off a ribbon for good luck. In this way, perhaps, the ancient goddess of the harvest was still remembered with honor.


"Lugh" by Mickie Mueller
Lammas or Lughnasadh was also known as the festival of the first fruits. It was often called "Bilberry Sunday.” Bilberries (or blaeberries), close relatives of the American blueberry, were a sign of the earth’s covenant with her children, so it was very important to gather and share them with the community.

This was the day to climb the nearest "Lughnasadh Hill" and gather the earth’s freely-given gifts of the little black berries, which might be worn as special garlands or gathered in baskets to take home to make jam, bilberry wine, “frahghan cakes” or simply mashed with cream. And some bilberries were also left behind on a special cairn or rock as an offering to an old, almost-forgotten god who first brought the harvest to Britain.


The celebration of Lammas is a pause to relax and open yourself to the change of the season so that you may be one with its energies and accomplish what is intended. Visits to fields, orchards, lakes and wells are also traditional.

It is customary to consume bread or something from the First Harvest during Lughnasadh. To celebrate the festival today, one might bake and share with friends a loaf of bread, a blackberry cobbler, bilberry (erm, blueberry) muffins or corn bread sticks (recipe below).

I plan to have blueberry muffins tomorrow morning and tomorrow afternoon I plan to see if I can find a copy of “Dancing at Lughnasa”, starring Meryl Streep, which takes place in Ireland in the summer of 1936.

"Lammas" by Wendy Andrew


Corn Bread Ear Sticks

Use an iron mold shaped like little ears of corn.

Grease lightly and preheat in a 425 degree oven.

You will need:

3/4 cup Flour

3/4 cup Yellow Corn Meal

1/4 cup Sugar

3/4 teaspoon Salt

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

2 Eggs

1 cup Milk (or Buttermilk if you prefer)

1/4 cup Shortening

Sift dry ingredients together. Add milk, eggs, shortening, and beat until smooth. Pour into preheated and greased molds and bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I didn't plan on having a blog break but - after not blogging for two weeks - I guess I did! Now, Miss Mari-Nanci ("smilnsigh") has told me I must update my blog, and I always obey a direct order from MISS M-N!
The scan above is of a set of pages I did for an altered books round robin. I happen to know that the owner of this particular book loves pink. As I selected pink images, I realized they were about summer delights. And that brought to mind the post Daisy Lupin wrote in June 2007 about planning to have a juicy, greedy summer of personal delights. Sadly, Daisy died not long after writing that post.
I decided to make a collage featuring Daisy's words, summer themes, and bubble gum and hot pink colors contrasted with a cool refreshing green. I also added the word "luscious" because I have the incorrect and indelible notion that it was included in Daisy's quote!
The quote and Daisy's name are written on pink tags hung with green ribbon. The tags hide part of the words "summer" and "wild", and the plastic flamingoes' heads. I was on a roll after these two pages and went on to do a bunch more in pink as well as my favorite colors: lavender, blue and green.
So why haven't I been blogging? I guess I have been trying to fulfill my pledge to honor Daisy's dream of a perfect summer. My personal delights include:
Enjoying big glasses of lemonade with lots of ice cubes, and the occasional, more expensive treat of a hazelnut Italian soda or fruit smoothie.
Eating fresh peaches, cherries and watermelon, and letting the juices drip down my chin.
Barbecuing every chance we get. Some kind of meat, of course, and my husband's Famous Fredericken Potatoes wrapped in tin foil. Although he won't eat it, I like this veggie side:
Chop up some small zucchini, the long yellow squash (name??), some onion, and some red and yellow peppers (or green if you prefer). Marinate in a marinade made from a dry Italian salad dressing mix. This doesn't take long on the grill, so don't over cook!
Being a moongazy girl under the ripe summer moons.
Stopping to soak in the view just before I go inside to work. The building I work in sits atop one of the highest hills in Bismarck. From there, one can see the hills unrolling south of town. Depending on the light and weather conditions, the hills are shadowed a beautiful blue or wreathed in mist.

I'm excited for our department's move the first week of August. We will no longer be on the highest heights, but we will be in a gorgeous new building with an entire wall of glass that overlooks a stunning, panoramic view of the Missouri River valley.
Taking time to smell the (neighbor's) flowers. Because of my carpal tunnel syndrome, I have only a few planters on my deck this year, but I've been thoroughly enjoying other people's gardens. I must brag, however, that my roses were astounding this summer. I grow hardy Canadian roses, perfect for our harsh ND climate. My William Baffin climbing rose, which is (supposed to be) trained over the front arbor, went berserk in June. I think the mailman could have used a machete to make it to our front door!
Reading - a lot. I find that my ancient eyes work much better in natural light so I'm going to read as much as I can while the days are long. I'm usually on my deck (see below). Unfortunately, the books' pages are prone to being smeared with food and/or mud from the dogs. (Read a page, throw the ball; read a page, throw the ball.)
Sitting on the deck under our venerable American Elm tree, one of the largest elms in Bismarck. Its canopy covers half our yard, and gives us shady relief from the blazing sun setting in the west. Its leaf cover is so thick that if it is raining lightly, we don't even feel the drops.
Trying to appreciate the turkey buzzards, or turkey vultures. A couple of years ago, they came in from their natural habitat along the Missouri River and now roost on the water tower in our neighborhood, and in the trees on the corner. I really hated to have them around. They gave me the heebie jeebies (a la "The Birds") and they are scavengers who also - erm - poop on their legs to cool them off when they are hot. Yish, as Mari-Nancy would say.
Some of my blogging friends who love birds have told me that buzzards are wonderful, necessary creatures, so I have been trying to like them, and honestly, I have enjoyed seeing them swoop and soar on the evening air currents. They have a long wingspan and look very graceful, from a distance. All was well until the other night, when the two pre-teen girls playing next door spotted them. "Ooh, the tower buzzards," they screeched. "They're creepy!" Yeah, girls, I hear ya.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


A happy, happy birthday to my dear daughter, Kristen, on her 26th birthday. I am so glad you came into our lives. You are truly a special daughter. I wish I could be with you today.


It's your birthday, but we got the gift...

a gentle, sweet, beautiful daughter

who is always a pleasure to be with.

You glow with sensitivity and compassion

generated from the depths

of your warm heart and and kind soul.

A loving friend, a peacemaker,

a woman full of the joy of life,

that's you.

Anyone who spends time with you

is privileged to know

such an extraordinary person.

You are a great joy in our lives.

We love you and cherish you and treasure you

and wish that every one of your birthdays

will be the happiest yet.

By Joanna Fuchs

Friday, July 4, 2008



Happy Independence Day, everyone! If you were reading my blog last October, you know how much I love vintage holiday postcards. Fourth of July postcards are more expensive than some other holiday cards, like Easter or Thanksgiving cards. I personally own only the card shown directly below. In searching the Internet for Fourth of July postcards, I found a preponderance of cards featuring children and fireworks! It's also interesting to see how many girls are pictured. When I was a kid, firecrackers were pretty much a boy thing.

I have to laugh that all these kids are playing with (or walking through) fireworks, totally unsupervised. And some of those firecrackers are ginormous! The little boy in the sailor suit has a real arsenal!

My own experience with fireworks wasn't so pleasant. When I was about four, my mom and aunt took me to the fireworks display at the Divide County Fair. All I remember from that evening is huddling beside a car, trying to escape from the horrid noise. The noise still bothers me but I can force myself to sit still at public fireworks shows and not make a spectacle of myself.

My brothers saved their allowance for a year to buy firecrackers. They set a bunch off during the Fourth, to be sure, but they kept a bunch more in reserve to use the rest of the year. And of course, my mom was frantic with worry that they would shoot out an eye or lose a hand. As for me, I was content to have a box of sparklers. I loved to write my name with the sparkler wand and see it hang in the air for a few seconds.

Here in Bismarck, the Fourth is celebrated with a symphony performance (with rousing patriotic tunes) and a fireworks display on the Capitol grounds. We've gone a number of times and it is a fun evening. Across the river in Mandan, they do the Fourth up big, with a huge parade, a rodeo, fireworks, and Art in the Park. My sister and I are going to Art in the Park this afternoon, for all the delicious food as well as the crafts. Dan and I may go to the Capitol this evening, or, since we are so close, we may just sit on our deck and enjoy the music and the fireworks from a SAFE distance. Have a great one, everyone!~









Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Peder Severin Kroyer

I bid rather a sad farewell to June and to Fairy Month by drawing the name for the winner of my Fairy Day Giveaway. The winner is Mari-Nanci of "smilnsigh". Congratulations, Mari-Nanci, and may you enjoy Cicely Mary Barker's paintings in "Return to Fairyopolis" for many a day.
When I went over to Mari-Nanci's post to tell her about her win, I realized that needn't be so sad - I have a fabulous July ahead of me. Her post today is a plethora, a panoply, a paean to the wonderful things we experience in July. From fireflies and fireworks, straw hats and strawberries, flag-waving parades and front-porch swings, she names dozens of simple-to-sumptuous delights to be found in the seventh month of the year.
Reading her post, I was reminded of the Henry James quote:


I decided to check out the Internet for summer paintings, and within a couple of minutes I had found dozens either called "Summer Afternoon" or which had "Summer Afternoon" in the title.
Here are seven of them, including my favorite, "Summer Afternoon at Skagen Beach." I have note cards of this painting, and I also have a print of it.
After you peruse my luscious summer afternoon paintings, please go to Mari-Nanci's post and read her luscious descriptions of July delights:

George Konis


George F. Schultz


Mary Travers


Frank Weston Benson

Barbara Loftin

Jose Villegas Cordero