National Hole in My Bucket Day

On May 30 each year, we celebrate National Hole in My Bucket Day. This is an odd holiday, not only because celebrating a hole is odd, but also because it is based on a song.

There are actually two songs about buckets with holes. One is a more adult song, made popular by Hank Williams. A man sings sadly that he can’t get any beer because there’s a hole in his bucket. You can listen to Hank Williams himself singing it here.

However, the version I like is a children’s song that originated in Germany in the 1700s called “There’s a Hold in The Bucket.” It’s about a hapless man, Henry, who goes to get water from the well, only to find a hole in his bucket. He then goes to Liza for advice.

Here’s a taste of it.

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.

Then mend it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then mend it, dear Henry, dear Henry, mend it.

With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, with what?

With a straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With a straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, with a straw.

The straw is too long, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The straw is too long, dear Liza, too long,

Then cut it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then cut it, dear Henry, dear Henry, cut it.

It goes on and on. Liza recommends a knife, which turns out to be too dull. She tells Henry to sharpen it, but alas, the whetstone is too dry, so she recommends he wet it with water drawn from the well in the bucket. But…!

You can find straightforward versions of the song on the Internet, but my favorite is the Muppet version, with Liza getting more and more frustrated. You can see and hear it here.

This is an example of a song called a circular song. Another example is the folk song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” made popular by Peter, Paul, and Mary. If you would like to hear it again, listen here.

Quotes about songs

Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.–Emory Austin

You can cage the singer but not the song.–Harry Belafonte

Those who wish to sing always find a song.–Proverb

A song will outlive all sermons in the memory.–Henry Giles

It was his nature to blossom into song, as it is a tree’s to leaf itself in April.–Alexander Smith

Faith and joy are the ascensive forces of song.–Edmund Clarence Stedman

It seems to me that those songs that have been any good, I have nothing much to do with the writing of them. The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page.–Joan Baez

A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.–Donna Roberts

I would rather be remembered by a song than by a victory.–Alexander Smith

Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.–Ronald Reagan

Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it.–Stevie Wonder

If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song.–Khalil Gibran

Every bad situation is a blues song waiting to happen.–Amy Winehouse

Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song.–Plato

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Slugs Return from Capistrano Day

We celebrate this most important holiday on May 28 every year. There is a lovely holiday in March, the “Swallows Return to Capistrano Day,” when flocks of cliff swallows arrive at the beautiful Mission San Juan Capistrano and begin to build their springtime nests. For years, people have had a parade and festival to welcome back the sparrows, and they traditionally ring the mission bells. Well, today we celebrate the slugs returning from the same place to once again inhabit our yards and gardens. Of course, this is one of those totally made up holidays, because slugs don’t actually go anywhere, but I couldn’t pass it up.

One of my fond memories of the days when I was a librarian in an academic library was faculty retreat on the Oregon coast. It is the home to a temperate rain forest, because moist air from the ocean has trouble getting over the Coast Range, and drops a lot of water along the western edge of the state. It was always amusing to take new faculty members hiking and introduce them to the yellow banana slugs, which can grow up to 10 inches long but are usually only five or six.

I found a page of truly terrible slug jokes. One of the best is How do you know your kitchen floor is dirty? The slugs leave a trail on the floor that reads “clean me!”

For the cutest slugs you ever want to see, visit Elizabeth Ruffing’s Web page, where she sells handmade stuffed slugs in a variety of colors. Below is a graphic of her “Hug Me Slugs.” They look like they could be returning from Capistrano!

Quotes about slugs

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair
The bees are stirring, birds are on the wing,
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of spring.
–Samuel Taylor Coleridge

It seems to me the worst of all the plagues is the slug, the snail without a shell. He is beyond description repulsive, a mass of sooty, shapeless slime, and he devours everything.–Celia Thaxter

What would become of the garden if the gardener treated all the weeds and slugs and birds and trespassers as he would like to be treated, if he were in their place?–Thomas Huxley

Children start off reading in books about lions and giraffes and so on, but they also – if they’re lucky enough and have reasonable privileges of any human being – are able to go into a garden and turn over stone and see a worm and see a slug and see an ant.–David Attenborough

Among gardeners, enthusiasm and experience rarely exist in equal measures. The beginner dreams of home-grown bouquets and baskets of ripe fruit, the veteran of many seasons has learned to expect slugs, mildew, and frost.–Roger Swain

The large black slugs … come out at dusk. Enormous slugs. As big as crocodiles. So huge we need a gun to shoot them. And by the end of the summer, if they go on growing, we shall have to go out in pairs together for protection.–Nan Fairbrother

We die, we turn, we are reborn as we deserve to be reborn, based on our doings in this world.” Will looked down at his bitten nails. “I will probably be reborn as a slug that someone salts.–Cassandra Clare

There are three things in the world that he held in the smallest esteem – slugs, poets and caddies with hiccups.–P. G. Wodehouse

You have the morals of rabbit, the character of a slug, and the brain of a platypus.–Cybill Shepherd

Girls are like slugs – they probably serve some purpose, but it’s hard to imagine what.–Bill Watterson

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Blueberry Cheesecake Day

On May 26, we celebrate not just cheesecake, but a special version of the delicious treat – that with blueberries, either on top, or baked in, or both. It is said that blueberries are the most popular topping for cheesecakes. I tend to like mine without fruit, but for those of you who love your cheesecake this way, today is your day!

Cheesecake can be traced back to ancient Greece, but apparently, the sweetened kind we enjoy today is a fairly recent invention. Depending on where you live in the world, cheesecake (which is technically a tart, not a cake) is made with different bases. In the United States, cream cheese makes the cheesecake moist and creamy. In much of Europe, it is made with ricotta cheese, which tends to make them a bit drier and more solid, and in Germany and Poland, they are made with a kind of curd cheese, called quark cheese. The crusts can also vary widely, from graham cracker to crushed cookies to pastry. So there are lots of ways to experiment!

I have especially fond memories of cheesecake. Not only did my mother make a fabulous variety, but also my sister and brother-in-law had a wedding cake made out of cheesecake – the big tiered cake, and several smaller flavored ones.

Blueberries, of course, besides being delicious, are very healthy. Blueberries are one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world. According to a Web site called Dr. Axe, blueberries do all of the following:

  1. Combat aging
  2. Boost the Brain
  3. Fight Cancer
  4. Support Digestion
  5. Promote Heart Health
  6. Benefit the Skin
  7. Aid Weight Loss

So go ahead and enjoy that piece of cheesecake, knowing that at least some of it is healthy!

Quotes about cheesecake

Because you don’t live near a bakery doesn’t mean you have to go without cheesecake.–Hedy Lamarr

If there’s cheesecake in the house, I’ll have some.–Kelly Ripa

I suspect music is auditory cheesecake, an exquisite confection crafted to tickle the sensitive spots of … our mental faculties.–Steven Pinker

I might put a nicer pair of heels on and a cooler outfit, but I’m still that naughty girl who likes a slice of cheesecake on my day off.–Jessie J

New York means many different things to me. It certainly means cheesecake, more species of cheesecake than I ever knew existed: rum, orange, hazelnut, chocolate marble, Italian, Boston, and of course, New York.–David Frost

The Cheesecake Factory is a great business model, but if you take your wife there for your 25th wedding anniversary, you might not reach your 26th.–Scott Adams

In the ’80s, I thought I’d be a success as a woman if I were the president of a billion dollar company, had a sensitive soul-mate husband, two bilingual children, buns of steels, and a compost heap. In the ’90s, I pretty much feel I’m a success if I can get through the afternoon without eating a cheesecake.–Cathy Guisewite

The cheesecake was smooth and lush, with the personality of a warm and well-to-do uncle…–Don DeLillo

Why do only the awful things become fads? I thought. Eye-rolling and Barbie and bread pudding. Why never chocolate cheesecake or thinking for yourself?–Connie Willis

Anyone can do running. Running should be easy. It should be fun. It should include everyone. It shouldn’t be a punishment for eating cheesecake…–Christopher McDougall

I can dream away a half-hour on the immortal flavor of those thick cheese cakes we used to have on a Saturday night.–Mary Antin

The only way cheese is dessert is when it’s followed by the word cake.–Michele Gorman

Cheesecake will always taste like love.–Shonda Rhimes

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Scavenger Hunt Day

May 24 is Scavenger Hunt Day. A scavenger hunt, of course, is a game where people are sent out in teams to find (scavenge, not buy) certain items. According to National Day Calendar, American gossip columnist, author, songwriter and professional hostess Elsa Maxwell is credited with the introduction of the scavenger hunt for use as a party game in the modern era. Sometimes these hunts are completely random, but often they have some underlying topic, such as a holiday themed hunt. One place I read on the Web had a delightful idea – a tree planting hunt. Teams are sent out to find all the kinds of things necessary to plant a tree – soil, a watering can with water, fertilizer, etc. The first team to get their tree planted and watered wins the game.

Scavenger hunts serve other purposes than simply completing a task. They are great ways to get to know people, and often a chance to do something silly. It gets people outside and into their neighborhood.

For those who think this sounds like fun, but you don’t think you can get together a bunch of friends to play it with you, there are other options now with the Internet. To me, the most intriguing is GISHWHES. It is pronounced gish-wishes, and stands for Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. Sponsored by actor Misha Collins, it gets together teams of fifteen people from all over the world and gives them tasks. You can join any team that needs people. The teams divide the tasks because team members are likely to come from many different countries. As they complete the tasks, they take a picture. In previous years, one of the tasks was to completely cover a VW Bug with shaving cream and have two children stand in front of it. One was doing a sock puppet theater at a children’s hospital. Another was recreating a historical site out of gummi bears. The teams get points for each task completed, and the winners get to go somewhere amazing, all expenses paid. It sounds like tons of fun, but the underlying cause is to raise money for charity. So far, they have raised over $400,000, and many of the tasks are things that spread kindness – like the puppet theater.

I couldn’t find any quotes about scavenger hunts, so here are some about playing.

Always jump in the puddles! Always skip alongside the flowers. The only fights worth fighting are the pillow and food varieties.–Terri Guillemets

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.–H. G. Wells

Fun is fundamental, there is no way around it. You absolutely must have fun. Without fun, there is no enthusiasm. Without enthusiasm, there is no energy. Without energy, there are only shades of gray.–Doug Hall

Go and play. Run around. Build something. Break something. Climb a tree. Get dirty. Get in some trouble. Have some fun.—Brom

If animals play, this is because play is useful in the struggle for survival; because play practices and so perfects the skills needed in adult life.–Susanne Millar

In our play we reveal what kind of people we are.—Ovid

It is a happy talent to know how to play.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.–Michael Jordan

Play has been man’s most useful preoccupation.–Frank Caplan

Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.–Joseph Chilton Pearce

Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good.–Lucia Capocchione

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.–George Bernard Shaw

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National Vinegar Month

May is vinegar month. Vinegar is useful for many things, and I’ll get to some of those after a bit. Vinegar has been around for a long time. As far back as 5000 BCE, Babylonians were making vinegar out of dates for preserving or pickling food. There has also been vinegar found in urns from 3000 BCE in Egypt. In Rome, they made vinegar out of wine, and various fruits, and at least since 1000 BCE, the Chinese were making rice vinegar.

Since ancient times, vinegar has had uses from a drink to a preservative to medicine. Hippocrates mixed it with honey for a cough syrup, and during the time of the Black Death, doctors rubbed it on their bodies and their clothing to protect themselves from the disease.

Today there are many different kinds of vinegar. Some of them are: Apple cider, Balsamic, Beer, Cane, Coconut, Date, Distilled vinegar, East Asian black, Flavored vinegar, Fruit, Honey, Job’s tears, Kiwifruit, Kombucha, Malt, Palm, Raisin, Rice, Sinamak, Spirit vinegar, Sherry vinegar, White, Wine.

Besides cooking vinegar has nearly an endless number of uses, such as cleaning, both surfaces and laundry, and health. Some of the uses I have read are, to stop insect stings and bites from itching, to get rid of foot odor, to soothe sunburn, particularly if the vinegar is cold, and to clean a hairbrush. Honestly, I haven’t tried any of these, but be my guest! What I use vinegar for most often, besides salad dressing is for keeping my kitchen sink running free. Whoever built my mobile thought it was a good idea to bring the water to the kitchen all the way from the rear of the mobile, so it does tend to clog up from time to time. After the second time I had the plumber out, he recommended baking soda and vinegar in the drain once a week. I haven’t had to have him back since.

Quotes about vinegar

Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.–Pope John XXIII

Cucumber should be well sliced, dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out.–Samuel Johnson

A spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.–Benjamin Franklin

To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist – the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil one must put with one’s vinegar.–Oscar Wilde

Vinegar: that’s what fear smells like.–Jennifer Egan

People mature with age and experience. I hope I more resemble a fine wine than bad vinegar.–Rick Kaplan

You can tell German wine from vinegar by the label.–Mark Twain

A loaf of bread, the Walrus said, Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides Are very good indeed –
Now if you’re ready, Oysters, dear, We can begin to feed!
–Lewis Carroll

So I went down the local supermarket, I said “I want to make a complaint, this vinegar’s got lumps in it.” He said “Those are pickled onions”.–Tim Vine

It’s not the nineteenth century; I’m not meant to be judged on how good a housekeeper I am. Getting down on the floor with a lemon and a bucket of vinegar does not make me a better person.–Emily Matchar

Wrong solitude vinegars the soul, right solitude oils it.–Jane Hirshfield

Wine and the sun will make vinegar without any shouting to help them.–George Eliot

When we finished the kiss she said laughing, I can taste your loneliness – it tastes like vinegar. That annoyed me. Everyone knows loneliness tastes like cold potato soup.–Steve Toltz

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Margery Allingham

 

Margery Louise Allingham was born in Ealing, a western suburb of London on May 20, 1904. Though not as popular as either Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote about the same time, Allingham’s stories have an appeal all their own. Her fictional detective is the ever self-effacing Albert Campion, tall, spectacled, and immensely clever. He first showed up in The Crime at Black Dudley in 1929. He was not the hero of that story, but as Allingham said later, he kept tugging at her sleeve until she put him in his own story. In his first solo outing Mystery Mile, he is introduced this way, “a pale young man who seemed to be hiding behind his enormous spectacles.” People tend to think he is a bit touched in the head until he springs the trap on them. Unlike Dorothy Sayers’ Peter Wimsey, we never really get to know Albert. He remains a mysterious figure, having several names. Even Campion is a pseudonym, chosen so as to not embarrass his aristocratic family, whoever they might be.

One of the joys of Allingham’s books is her ability to sketch in a character in a few sentences whom you would recognize if you met. Here is how she describes a vicar in Mystery Mile. “Their visitor, the Reverend Swithin Cush … was a lank old man with a hooked nose and deep-set twinkling black eyes surrounded by a thousand wrinkles. His long silky white hair was cut by Biddy herself when it got past his collar, and his costume consisted of a venerable suit of plus-fours, darned at the knees and elbows with a variety of wools…”

Another thing I like is watching Albert grow up. In the early stories, he is an adventurer, a “universal aunt,” as he says. By the end, he is in his sixties, and the stories themselves are more sedate and serious.

There are many memorable characters in the stories. Campion’s butler and partner in crime is Magersfontein Lugg, described as a “mountain of a man.” He was a promising burglar until he as he says, “lost his figure.” Another is the lugubrious Stanislaw Oates, the Scotland Yard detective with whom Albert often works. As you see, she loves interesting names!

If you have never read Allingham, may I suggest you start with Look to the Lady, which to my mind is the best of the early stories.

Quotes by Margery Allingham

Mourning is not forgetting… It is an undoing. Every minute tie has to be untied and something permanent and valuable recovered and assimilated from the dust.

I write every paragraph four times – once to get my meaning down, once to put in anything I have left out, once to take out anything that seems unnecessary, and once to make the whole thing sound as if I had only just thought of it.

Waiting is one of the great arts.

The process of elimination, combined with a modicum of common sense, will always assist us to arrive at the correct conclusion with the maximum of possible accuracy and the minimum of hard labor. Which being translated means: I guessed it.

But there are roughly two sorts of informed people, aren’t there? People who start off right by observing the pitfalls and mistakes and going round them, and the people who fall into them and get out and know they’re there because of that. They both come to the same conclusions but they don’t have quite the same point of view.

When the habitually even-tempered suddenly fly into a passion, that explosion is apt to be more impressive than the outburst of the most violent amongst us.

Love so seldom means happiness.

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Museum Day

Also called International Museum Day, this is celebrated all over the world on May 18. Museums have been special to me since I was a child, for more than one reason.

When I was young, my family wasn’t particularly well off, and most outings we took cost us no more than the gas to get there. I couldn’t guess how many hours I spent in the Rochester, New York natural history museum. There were three floors containing old frontier type buildings and dioramas of Native Americans and other things. But my memories of those are hazy because the room I always wanted to go to was the one that showed the area when it had been under water, I suppose during the last Ice Age. There were giant sea creatures, trilobites, and undersea plants. I could stand and look at those for hours. The same thing happened when we went to the natural history museum in New York City when I was eleven. My folks wanted to see all the different floors; I just wanted to stay in the room with the dinosaurs. I suppose they must have dragged me away at some point, but I don’t remember anything else.

The other reason I’m fond of museums is that when we were in a part of the place that I didn’t care about, I wanted to just rush through and get back to something interesting. At the time, it drove me crazy that Dad stopped and looked at everything, and read every sign, and pointed things out, but what he was teaching me was to stop and learn about other things – to take my time. When I got old enough to understand, I loved him for the quiet lesson.

There are, of course, many different kinds of museums. There are history museums, science museum, art galleries, and those housing anything someone considered worthy of collecting. Celebrate today by visiting a museum. It’s bound to be interesting!

The British Museum – a favorite place

Quotes about museums

Give me a museum and I’ll fill it.–Pablo Picasso

When I was growing up, my mother would take me to plays and museums, and we’d talk about life. Those times helped shape who I became.–Jill Scott

When in a museum, walk slowly but keep walking.–Gertrude Stein

A country that has few museums is both materially poor and spiritually poor…Museums, like theaters and libraries, are a means to freedom.–Wendy Beckett

An art book is a museum without walls.–Andre Malraux

… what is important is not so much what people see in the gallery or the museum, but what people see after looking at these things, how they confront reality again. Really great art regenerates the perception of reality; the reality becomes richer, better or not, just different.–Gabriel Orozco

I don’t want to sound pretentious, but I love art, I like to go to museums, and I like to read books.–Rainn Wilson

The historical museum has to be very conservative and careful in its choices. The modern museum, on the other hand, has to be audacious, to take chances. It has to consider the probability that it would be wrong in a good many cases and take the consequences later.–Alfred H. Barr, Jr.

Museums are managers of consciousness. They give us an interpretation of history, of how to view the world and locate ourselves in it. They are, if you want to put it in positive terms, great educational institutions.–Hans Haacke

Museums should be places where you raise questions, not just show stuff.–William Thorsell

The best museums and museum exhibits about science or technology give you the feeling that, hey, this is interesting, but maybe I could do something here, too.–Paul Allen

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