Sunday, January 28, 2007

Laurels

1:58 PM 1 Comments
.My excursion began unpretentiously, my task simple – to define the lovely Mountain Laurel.

Enacted by the General Assembly as the State Flower for Connecticut in 1907 and Pennsylvania in May 5, 1933 . Mountain Laurel was first mentioned in John Smith's "General History," in 1624 specimens were sent to Linnaeus, the famous botanist, by the Swedish explorer Peter Kalm in 1750.

Linnaeus gave it the name of Kalmia latifolia, honoring the name his correspondent and at the same time describing the "wide-leafed" characteristic of the plant. In addition to being called the "Mountain Laurel," the plant has also been spoken of as "Calico Bush" and "Spoonwood." State Flower

However; for such an attractive plant, there is controversy. It is said that the Delaware Indians used laurel for suicide. Bees even produce poisonous honey from its nectar. I have found little on the internet to support the Indians suicide and even greater debate surrounding this plant being poisonous to animals. The following excerpt may have claim to such diversities:

“Mountain laurel is a very poisonous narcotic plant, the leaves of which were at one time used by some native North American Indian tribes in order to commit suicide. Because of its toxicity, it is a remedy that is seldom used in modern herbalism,but the leaves have been used externally in herbal medicine and are a good remedy for many skin diseases and inflammation.

Known Hazards: The foliage is poisonous to animals[21, 65, 76]. The whole plant is highly toxic[222]. Cases of poisoning have occurred when livestock or game birds have been eaten after they have ingested this plant[238].” Plants For a Future

As I continued my pleasure trip into the mountains, I cut across the beaten path of curiosity to ponder laurel and found:

A Laurel is a 16-17 year old participant in the Young Women's program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The name came from the Old testament, a laurel is a type of tree that in many parables people leaned on. -Wikipedia

The Laurel was the third English gold coin with a value of twenty shillings or one pound produced during the reign of King James I. It was named after the laurel that the king is portrayed as wearing on his head, but it is considerably poorer in both quality and style than the sovereign and Unite which preceded it. The coin was produced during James I's third coinage (1619-1625), five different busts of the king being used in these years. All the coins were produced at the Tower Mint in London. The laurel weighed 140.5 grains or just under 0.3 troy ounce, less than the previous Unite but almost exactly the same as the Unite issued under Charles I. -Wikipedia

I was about to 'rest on my laurels' when I finally came across,“Mountain laurel bushes are sometimes confused with bay laurel trees (Laurus nobilis), the small Mediterranean trees prominent in history and literature. The ancient Greeks and Romans fashioned bay laurel tree’s leaves into wreaths, to be worn as crowns by the victors in sporting events and military campaigns. When you think of Julius Caesar, you probably picture him wearing just such a wreath.” Landscaping

Its name "bay"--from the Anglo-Saxon--also means "crown," Nicholas Culpepper testified in 1653 to its curative powers in his Herbal, "Neither witch nor devil, thunder nor lightning will hurt a man where a bay tree is." SOUP OF THE EVENING

The term "baccalaureate," means laurel berry, and refers to the ancient practice of honoring scholars and poets with garlands from the bay laurel tree. Wikipedia hence a farewell sermon to a graduating class at their commencement ceremonies or an academic degree conferred on someone who has successfully completed undergraduate studies

Triumphant athletes of ancient Greece were awarded laurel garlands and was given to winners at Olympic games since 776 BC Today, grand prix winners are bedecked with laurel wreaths

“Ever since, the foliage of bay laurel trees has been a symbol of victory. It is still used as such for the Olympics. We even have the expression, “to rest on one’s laurels,” meaning to be overly content with one’s past achievements. It is also this more famous laurel that is used as a flavoring agent in cooking, often referred to as “bay leaf.”

The Greek word for laurel is dhafni, named for the myth of the nymph Daphne, who was changed into a laurel tree by Gaea

“In Greco-Roman mythology the nymph, Daphne was transformed into a bay laurel tree, to save her from Apollo’s unwelcome advances. Apollo was chasing this daughter of the river-god, Peneus through the woods when the magical metamorphosis occurred. The tale of her transformation has been passed down to us by the Latin poet, Ovid -- in the appropriately titled, Metamorphoses. Edith Hamilton, in her Mythology, relates the tale to us in English with her usual charm:

“She felt his breath upon her neck, but there in front of her the trees opened and she saw her father’s river. She screamed to him, ‘Help me! Father, help me!’ At the words a dragging numbness came upon her, her feet seemed rooted in the earth she had been so swiftly speeding over. Bark was enclosing her; leaves were sprouting forth. She had been changed into a tree, a laurel.”

Again we are reminded, “Muntain laurel, is related to its namesake, the bay laurel tree only in name. Indeed, the common name for Kalmia latifolia derives from the fact that, when Europeans encountered it in the New World, it reminded them superficially of bay laurel trees. But while the foliage of bay laurel trees is used as a culinary herb, mountain laurel is poisonous!” Oh but the aroma and benefits of the wonderful bay leaf!:

Attributed Medicinal Properties
In the Middle Ages it was believed to induce abortions and to have many magical qualities. It was once used to keep moths away, owing to the leafs lauric acid content which gives it insecticidal properties. Bay leaf has many properties which make it useful for treating high blood sugar, migraine headaches, bacterial and fungal infections, and gastric ulcers. Bay leaves and berries have been used for their astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emetic and stomachic properties. Bay Oil, or Oil of Bays (Oleum Lauri) is used in liniments for bruising and sprains. Bay leaf has been used as an herbal remedy for headaches. It contains compounds called parthenolides, which have proven useful in the treatment of migraines. Bay leaf has also been shown to help the body process insulin more efficiently, which leads to lower blood sugar levels.It has also been used to reduce the effects of stomach ulcers. Bay Leaf contains eugenol, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Bay leaf is also an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Bay Leaf has also been used to treat rheumatism, amenorrhea, and colic. Encyclopedia of Spices.

My, what a journey with just a simple mountain laurel in mind. I have found history and wonders and hopefully left you - My Readers with lots to ponder

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Unfinished Masterpiece

10:58 AM 2 Comments
Serendipity incidences have adorned my life for many years. The one spectacular serendipity moment I will forever treasure most is about my Daughter Violet. I had reluctantly placed Violet up for adoption when she was 1 year and 7 months old. When she was 16 years old I had gotten a P. O. Box so she could always have an address to get in touch with me, no matter where I moved. Shortly afterwards, the junk mail started arriving. One in particular caught my eye, the usual Frisbee CD disk from AOL to join their internet service. I would have disregarded the canister, except the password on the front stunned me. To this day I still have that very piece of junk mail. The password printed on the label, “BRING VIOLET’. Five something years later my Daughter and I have been blessedly reunited and I still get letters from my Daughter at that P. O. Box! Now that my Dear Readers is pure Serendipity!

Other occurrences of serendipity I have yet to unravel the mysterious ‘rhyme and reason’ for them. However; the below is a true story of the most astonishing serendipity in my life to date:

I worked with this Lady, Jen. In the course of developing a Friendship with Jen, I learned she wrote poetry and had a wonderful blog site. In fact, Jen inspired me to start my own, hence; my blog site ‘Binding Ink’. One day Jen resigned from her job. I never knew much more about her after that. However; I knew she kept her other job as a Night Manager at a local Perkins Restaurant. Sadly, October 7, 2006 a former Perkins employee robbed the place - shot and killed Jen.

Then toward the end of November, just so happen I was searching for a new residence. I had made calls to several apartment complexes. One LandLady, said there may be an opening in January if the Tenants decide not to renew their lease. Then suddenly a few days later this LandLady called, stating a previous application did not go through and there was an immediate vacancy! I was happy, signed, sealed, approved, and started moving in Friday December 22. Saturday things in the apartment started going wrong. The curtains I hung fell down, this – that and the other. All the while, I kept getting this vibe to check the mailbox here. I was like, heck I just moved in; why would I want to check the freakin’ mailbox. Meanwhile; I also kept thinking how much my taste in decorating had changed for the better and how the writing vibes in this apartment were strong. Any how; about 4 pm Christmas Eve I was taking my last load of empty boxes out to the trash and decided to check the mailbox. I brought the mail into my apartment and when I saw whom the old junk mail was addressed to, I about fell on the floor! The junk mail was addressed to no other then, Jennifer Skurow. My old Friend, Co-Worker, Jen! Remember, I never got to know her that well, so I surely never knew where she lived. Of all the apartment possibilities in any town, what were the odds of over 2 months later I would be living in Jens’ old place? Serendipity.

Yes, it is ever so sorrowful, amongst those Family Members, Friends, Co-Workers, Blog Readers whom will miss Jen; gone also is Jen’s talent, her poetry, that may never be known. For when Dominic murdered Jen that dreadful night, he also left the ‘literary world’ with an unfinished masterpiece. However; my Dear Readers, amidst the ‘sick’ events in the world, amidst the chaos there are rainbows and snowmen. And so just maybe in spirit or atom particles of anonymities; maybe Jen is here to encourage people like myself to establish their writings, their talents before it’s too late.

Serendipity, a Universal symphony whose tune can be heard by the most tone deaf person.

Follow-up Posts:

JUSTICE for Jennifer Skurow (15 months to the date of Jennifer Skurow’s murder, the alleged murderer is now going to trial.)

JUSTICE for Jennifer Skurow Prevails (Heather Olinger from CountOn2 News online, Thursday, Jan 10, 2008 - 09:32 PM states; “… man guilty of murder and armed robbery, and sentenced him to life in prison….”)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Art of Listening

12:47 PM 0 Comments
It seems to be a sick world. Rather one person or a group of people are doing something worse than the person before. Or someone is stricken ill, much worse than the other. It is a sick world.

Be Mothers killing their offspring like some innate, wild manly beast syndrome. Child molesters robbing fruit from the young before it is ripe. Mental Physical Child abuse – no excuse. Drug abuse, alcohol abuse, any reason as an excuse. Columbine High - Teenagers Gone Wild and We Don’t Know Why. Blame Syndrome guns, videos, parents, schools, manufactures, etc. anyone except our very own self. Crime is high – enjoy the tax free ride - free TV, free cable, three free meals, free pills, free medical, free dental, free education, etc. And what criminals haven’t already done to our society, others have done to us such as 9-11. Benefits, many murders are given the death penalty to die humanly for their gravely acts. Those without an immoral harden heart are at a disadvantage. In particular those people with illnesses, especially diseases without a cure such as cancer, aids… Sadly, these people die inhumanly. In the intervening time, these law abiding citizens must also bear atrocious unflavored m & m’s (medical and medicine cost) or do without. Yes, It is a sick world from the cradle to the grave.

However; sometimes life is merely a matter of perception. Is the world more good or bad? ‘Is the glass half full or half empty?’ For; in-between life and death, there is: serendipity, ironic, coincidence, and karma. Four words that merely seem to be complex, exchangeable synonyms. And due to individualism, the terms can be a matter of personal perception, personal choice on how you perceive them. As in, is disease a disease or dis-ease? For intellectual raison d'être, I will begin with my definition for these four words:

Serendipity: "the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely" Wikipedia

Ironic: when you say one thing but mean another; that what might be expected and what actually occurs

Coincidence: a matter of luck, a fluke; thinking about a song and then hearing it on the radio or thinking about a Friend and getting a phone call from that person

Karma: has to do with fate, personal belief

Oh, but the combination of ‘ick’ is a Universal symphony whose tune can be heard by the most tone deaf person; is the purest serendipity.

My belief is that essentially there is more to life than what our basic 6 senses are cognitively aware of. Again all this is just my conviction, and that is the Universe talks to us all. Note: one can call the Universe God, He, She or whatever. Yet, as certain as there is the wind for which we can not see, there is a voice-the voice of the Universe.

All one needs to do is understand the language. To each Country, Culture their own native tongue; foreign to many others. Any class of Aves-for every bird its’ own melody. Nature has ‘The Four Seasons’ language. Autumn paints its’ season in colorful leaves, Spring in fields of wild flowers, Winter in whiteness, Summer in heat. The Universe, a language all its’ own. The Universe is a voice that speaks a language based on sight. The HIF sight that is. Hindsight I-knew-it-all-along, Insight (intuition), Foresight (make provision for what may happen). “The hindsight into the past gave me new insight into the present reality that in turn provided me with a hopeful foresight into the future.” -Village Church

So no matter how 'sick' the world may seem at times. Remember for all the torrid rains there are rainbows. For all the avalanches there are snowmen. And through all the worldly chaos, the Universe does speak to us of its’ beauty, its' rhyme and reason, via 'serendipity, ironic, coincidence, and karma'. All we need to do is use the 'HIF' factor to figure out what the clues mean or where in life they lead. For this my Dear Readers is the true art of listening.