National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day

March 13 is National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day. It was begun by Thomas Edward Knibb of Frederick, Maryland in 2003. It’s said that he hoped to defy superstitions by having people open their umbrellas inside. According to one place I read, there are several theories as to how the superstition came about. The most popular one dates back to the ancient Egyptians. Back then umbrellas were used to protect nobility from the sun and to ward off bad spirits. It was considered disrespectful to Ra, the God of the Sun to open them in places the sun couldn’t reach. I suppose this makes as much sense as anything.

My favorite site that talks about how to celebrate this day is Days of the Year. They say:
Step 1: Find an umbrella and check that you are, indeed, indoors.
Step 2: Position yourself clear of breakable objects and/or people who value their eyesight.
Step 3: Take a deep breath, grasp the umbrella handle firmly with one hand and open the umbrella with your other hand.
Step 4: Note any bad luck that occurs in the following days or weeks.
Note: People who take part in this holiday do so at their own risk.

If you do inadvertently open an umbrella inside (and you are a believer in bad luck) you may ward off any ill consequences by doing the following: turn clockwise three times saying “positive things are happening to me” three times in a row and that will ward off any negative energy or bad luck. I do think however, the person giving this advice was doing so tongue in cheek.

Quotes about umbrellas

It is raining still… Maybe it is not one of those showers that is here one minute and gone the next, as I had so boldly assumed. Maybe none of them are. After all, life in itself is a chain of rainy days. But there are times when not all of us have umbrellas to walk under. Those are the times when we need people who are willing to lend their umbrellas to a wet stranger on a rainy day. I think I’ll go for a walk with my umbrella.–Sun-Young Park

Though it was mid-July, the morning was brisk, the sky a gray cotton of clouds, and Puget Sound a steely, cold blue. Most of Seattle grumbled, worn with winterish weather, impatient for the elusive summer sun. With umbrellas tucked away in the trunks of cars, sunglasses lost and separated from their original purchasers, the Pacific Northwest was a bastion of misty air and pale, complaining residents.–Courtney Kirchoff

An umbrella with many holes is better than no umbrella!–Mehmet Murat ildan

Monday is a sloppy umbrella day, which makes everybody a little blue.–Giorge Leedy

They want you to use a black umbrella; use yellow, use red, use green and always refuse the thing they want you to use! Refusal is often more honourable than conformity!–Mehmet Murat Ildan

He looked like the sort of person who would tell you that he did not have an umbrella to lend you when he actually had several and simply wanted to see you get soaked.–Lemony Snicket

A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.–Mark Twain

The mind is like an umbrella – it functions best when open.–Walter Gropius

Don’t let a man put anything over you except an umbrella.–Mae West

If you do not want it to rain, always carry an umbrella.–Andrzej Majewski

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Purim

This year Purim begins at sundown on March 11. It is one of the lesser known Jewish celebrations, at least to us outside the faith. The story of Purim is found in the book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible. It is really too long and complicated to summarize in this blog, but if you are unfamiliar with the tale you can read it here. I’ve made the link to The Message version because in, my opinion, it is the most readable to modern ears. The very very short version of the story is that the Jews in exile in Babylon at the time of King Xerxes were under threat of death and the young and beautiful Jewish woman who was Queen took her life in her hands to ask the King to spare her people. The story ends well for the Jews, but badly for Haman who was planning to wipe them out.

In modern times, Purim is a time of celebration, and to dress in your best clothes. According to Chabad.org, there are four special things to do on this day.

  1. Head to the synagogue to hear the Megillah, the book of Esther. This is not read but sung in Hebrew, using an age-old tune. You can hear it here. When Haman’s name is mentioned, you can twirl graggers (noisemakers) or stamp your feet to eradicate his evil name.
  2. Giving to the less fortunate. It is the custom to celebrate their deliverance by giving to at least two people or making a donation to the charity box in the synagogue. Children are encouraged to take part in this activity.
  3. In addition to giving to strangers, people give gifts of food to friends. Again, children are encouraged to participate by delivering the food.
  4. And last is a great feast for family and guests.

So all in all, Purim is a time for celebration and joy. I wish you all a happy Purim!

I couldn’t really find any quotes about Purim, but here are quotes about the Jews

The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was…–Mark Twain

The Jews started it all—and by “it” I mean so many of the things we care about, the underlying values that make all of us, Jew and Gentile, believer and aethiest, tick. Without the Jews, we would see the world through different eyes, hear with different ears, even feel with different feelings … we would think with a different mind, interpret all our experience differently, draw different conclusions from the things that befall us. And we would set a different course for our lives.–Thomas Cahill

The Jews proved not only unassimilated, but inassimilable, and… the demonstration that this was so proved one of the most significant turning points in Greek history, owing to the gigantic influence exerted throughout subsequent ages by their religion, which not only survived intact, but subsequently gave birth to Christianity as well.–Michael Grant

So prominent was the Jewish role in the foreign commerce of Europe that those nations that received the Jews gained and the countries that excluded them lost in the volume of international trade.–Will Durant

The survival of the Jews, their resistance to destruction, their endurance under absolutely peculiar conditions and the fateful role played by them in history; all these point to the particular and mysterious foundations of their destiny…– Nicholai Berdysev

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Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month

March is Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig Month, which is sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Petfinder.com. It was first celebrated in 2002.

What is a rescued guinea pig? Sometimes people will buy a guinea pig, then decide they don’t want the responsibility, so like dogs and cats, some end up at shelters.

Guinea pigs, also called a cavy, are rodents that are not in the pig family, nor are they from Guinea. They come from the Andes and are the descendants of a closely related species of cavy that no longer exists naturally in the wild. Guinea pigs may live as long as 10 years, so the decision to adopt one is not to be taken lightly. They require daily care including feeding, watering, cage cleaning, exercise, and companionship. Guinea pigs enjoy play and are capable of jumping 12 inches high.

My brother had a guinea pig when we were growing up, and what I remember most is that it was nocturnal. After the sun went down, we would hear a lot of squeaks and whistles from its cage. Also, I remember how happy it was when let loose in the backyard to nibble grass to its heart content. Guinea pigs are gentle and make good pets for children old enough to be careful with them. They come in colors from white (rare) through tan and brown, to black, and can have either short or long and fuzzy fur. Plus they are very cute!

Not every town will have guinea pigs in its shelter, but in many larger cities such as Los Angeles and Washington DC, there are special places to find rescued guinea pigs, many of them no-kill shelters. One of the best reasons for buying from a special shelter is that the people working there are usually knowledgeable and can give you advice about raising your new pet.

Look at that cute face!

Quotes about guinea pigs

Why can’t the world be simpler, like it is for guinea pigs? They only have a few rules: Crying will get you attention. If it fits in your mouth, it’s food. Scream if you don’t get your share.–Cynthia Lord

If a potato can produce vitamin C, why can’t we? Within the animal kingdom only humans and guinea pigs are unable to synthesize vitamin C in their own bodies. Why us and guinea pigs? No point asking. Nobody knows.–Bill Bryson

Small and solid furry fluffy things,
They smile and squeak and try to sing.
Their hearts are full of love and joy
They’re sometimes loud,
They’re sometimes coy.
If you cuddle one everyday
All your blues will melt away.
The ones who pass from our lives
We remember with tear filled eyes
But also with grateful thanks.
That such an amazing little soul
Let us be the one to fill his food bowl.
If you want less stress and to have fun
I recommend a Guinea Pig for everyone!
–L. M. Jones.

Guinea pigs are quite difficult to draw, I think, because they’re so furry.–Quentin Blake

If we could establish a deep abiding relationship with nature, we would never kill an animal for our appetite; we would never harm, vivisect, a monkey, a dog, a guinea pig for our benefit. We would find other ways to heal our wounds, heal our bodies.–Jiddu Krishnamurti

I’m not a cosy pussy cat, nor hamster in a cage,
Nor a proud Alsation dog, for that is far too big.
I’m a kind of snuggle bug,loved by kids of any age,
A cutie cobbed shaped cavy kind, they call a Guinea Pig.
–Peter Gurney

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Listen and Be Heard

Started by the International Listening Association (ILA), International Listening Awareness Month is celebrated each March. This global celebration helps the ILA in promoting the critical role listening plays in all human activity. ILA’s membership represents 16 countries, including Canada, Japan, Finland, Germany, and the U.S., among others. The theme for this year’s conference is Listening for Healing. I’m sure we can all remember how good it felt to have someone listen – really listen – to our joys or concerns. But sometimes it is hard to listen because we don’t like what we are hearing, the person is disagreeing with our own conclusions, the speaker is not someone we expect to be able to tell us anything – a problem women face all the time, as do those of other races, or the young or the old. And as Stephen Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Today, March 7 is also  National Be Heard Day. Though it can be taken to mean that we wish others would listen to us, its primary purpose is to give small businesses a voice. The Website Days of the Year describes it like this: “The task of getting the message of a small business through all the noise of bigger companies and their marketing machines could be described as herculean. Local and small businesses are sometimes not even noticed by those who live near them because of this. Marketing and Business Strategist Shannon Cherry saw this problem and … created Be Heard Day”

So you have two assignments today. First, when someone speaks to you, really listen to them, even if it is someone with quite different ways and/or views. Second, seek out a small business in your area and give them some love.

Quotes about listening.

Be a good listener; Your ears will never get you in trouble.–Frank Tyger

Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.–Sue Patton Thoele

Effective listening requires more than hearing the words transmitted. It demands that you find meaning and understanding in what is being said. After all, meanings are not in the words, but in the people.-–Herb Cohen

A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while, he knows something.–Wilson Mizner

A good listener tries to understand thoroughly what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but before he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with.–Kenneth A. Wells

The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.–Henry David Thoreau

I’m glad I understand that while language is a gift, listening is a responsibility.–Nikki Giovanni

It is much harder to criticize or to be angry with someone who wants to listen to you rather than lecture you or get angry in turn.–Frank Pavone

It’s a mistake to think we listen only with our ears. It’s much more important to listen with the mind, the eyes, the body, and the heart. Unless you truly want to understand the other person, you’ll never be able to listen.–Mark Herndon

Respect comes from understanding each other’s stories. But we shout over each other and forget to listen. If we listened, we would find that what the other person was saying is an echo of what we are saying ourselves.–Muhtar Bakare

We hear one another into being.–Nelle Morton

With the gift of listening comes the gift of healing.–Catherine de Hueck Doherty

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International Ideas Month

March is International Ideas Month. According to its creators, it is “dedicated to all ideas—large, small, great, not-so-great, past and current as well as ideas yet to come. Without constant new ideas, progress and people stagnate.” Everything we use was once an idea, from computers to safety pins, from Velcro to pet rocks. Somebody somewhere had the idea that fire could be used to keep people warm and cook food. Somebody once had an idea which eventually became the Internet, without which no one could read this blog.

Some ideas have been amazing, such as the idea that the earth was round and not flat. The idea that we could someday fly to the moon. The idea that we could talk to people over long distances whether that’s telephone, Skype, or via email. The idea that we could write things down in books and pass knowledge on to the next generation that way.

Of course, not every idea succeeds. Those which do are ideas whose time has come, like Google or Facebook. There were search engines and social sites before them, but the time was not yet right. Another is Amazon, which started out as one man’s vision and is now a Web powerhouse.

One of the ways I got ideas when I was supervisor over technical services in the library were my student workers. They were always asking why we did things the way we did. Most often I was able to explain, but every once in a while I would say, “Well because… because… I don’t know. Let’s try not doing it and see what happens.” It was a good way to streamline processes.

And that’s one of the secrets to getting ideas – to question. Another is to get sick of doing something the way you have always done it. My Dad used to say, “If you want something done, give it to a lazy person. They will figure out the fastest and easiest way to do it.”

So take a look around at what you are doing today and ask questions and think if it might be done in a better way.

ideas-month

Quotes about ideas

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.–Linus Pauling

Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.–Alfred Whitney Griswold

A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.–Sir Barnett Cocks

A culture that doesn’t value its librarians doesn’t value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?–Neil Gaiman

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.– John Maynard Keynes

Every new idea looks crazy at first.–Robert Olson

An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.–Edward de Bono

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.–George Bernard Shaw

A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains it original dimension.–Oliver Wendell Holmes

A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a joke or worried to death by a frown on the right person’s brow.–Charles Brower

New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can’t be done. 2) It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing. 3) I knew it was a good idea all along!–Arthur C. Clarke

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National Craft Month

Begun in 1994 by the Craft and Hobby Association (now Association for Creative Industries), March is National Craft Month. As I thought about this, I asked myself what is the difference between art and craft? Turns out there are several answers. The Difference Between website says, “Art is a form of work that is the expression of emotions. Craft is a form of work, which results in a tangible output, for example, moulding and carving.” Another definition I read is that craft is more traditionally women’s works, which were considered less valuable. And yet another said that art creates a decorative object which is not to be touched, while craft creates useful items. And that seems to me to be a good definition – crafts are designed to be used. Does that make them less creative or less beautiful than what we traditionally consider “art?” No.

Crafts run the gamut from professional work such as fancy woodworking to hobbies. My own personal craft is crocheting. I love making things for gifts or useful items like hats for our clients at the food pantry. I have friends who knit, scrapbook, paint, make jewelry. I have others who do what you might not consider traditional crafts such as being able to put things together to make a welcoming and beautiful room, or putting ingredients together to make an amazing meal, or who write music – most people are creative in some way.

So let your creativity show this month in whatever way suits you best. Or find a craftsperson and buy something unique and handmade. Enjoy!

craftmonth

Quotes about craft & crafts

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.–Ernest Hemingway

The life so short, the craft so long to learn.–Hippocrates

It is not enough to know your craft – you have to have feeling. Science is all very well, but for us imagination is worth far more.–Edouard Manet

Crafts make us feel rooted, give us a sense of belonging and connect us with our history. Our ancestors used to create these crafts out of necessity, and now we do them for fun, to make money and to express ourselves.–Phyllis George

Other kids did drugs; I did crafts. I never knew where I fit in.–Kathie Lee Gifford

I think a craft becomes an art form when the space of possible solutions becomes so huge that engineering can’t carry you through.–Bill Budge

Far from wishing to awaken the artist in the pupil prematurely, the teacher considers it his first task to make him a skilled artisan with sovereign control of his craft.–Eugen Herrigel

Craft is part of the creative process.–Gavin Bryars

Maybe in past years, perhaps women didn’t feel quite as comfortable with revealing themselves, and their skills and their crafts… and now we are, so we’re out there, just like the guys.–Chantal Kreviazuk

Writing is a craft not an art.–William Zinsser

Making a book is a craft, like making a clock; it needs more than native wit to be an author.–Jean de la Bruyere

Compared to industry in Europe or Japan, where industry was based on a craft tradition, we are sadly behind.–Arthur Erickson

I like doing arts and crafts, so I would probably go to one of those fun little ceramic places and go paint some plates and do something fun like that–Christina Milian

Learn the craft of knowing how to open your heart and to turn on your creativity. There’s a light inside of you.–Judith Jamison

I’ve always remembered something Sanford Meisner, my acting teacher, told us. When you create a character, it’s like making a chair, except instead of making something out of wood, you make it out of yourself. That’s the actor’s craft – using yourself to create a character.–Robert Duval

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Saint David’s Day

Everybody has heard of Saint Patrick, but today I want to talk about another Celtic saint. March 1 is the feast day of St. David, the patron saint of Wales and also of doves. Also known as Dewi Sant in Welsh, he was born in Caerfai in Pembrokshire, Wales to Sant, a prince of Cardigan, and St Non, the daughter of a chieftain in around 500 AD. He has been patron saint of Wales since the 12th century – he was canonized by Pope Callixtus in 1120. Of all the patron saints of the British Isles (Patrick, George, Andrew, and him), he is the only one born in the country he is now a saint of.

In his time, he founded twelve monasteries, which were known for their extreme aestheticism. His most famous miracle was when he was preaching to a large crowd at the Synod of Brefi and raised the ground beneath him into a hill so his sermon could be heard by all.

Many Welsh people wear one or both of the National symbols of Wales to celebrate St. David: the daffodil (a generic Welsh symbol) or the leek (Saint David’s personal symbol) on this day. The leek arises from an occasion when a troop of Welsh were able to distinguish each other from a troop of English enemy dressed in similar fashion by wearing leeks. The younger girls sometimes wear traditional Welsh costumes to school. This costume consists of a long woolen skirt, white blouse, woolens shawl and a Welsh hat.

St David is thought to have died on March 1, 589. During his last sermon, his words to his followers were: “Be joyful and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us.”

So Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus, or Happy Saint David’s Day!

st-davids-day

Quotes about Wales

It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Wales!–Robert Bolt

I carry Wales around inside me. I’d consider moving back there one day. I never really left.–Tom Jones

I’ve always felt very proud of Wales and being Welsh. People are a bit surprised when I say I’m Welsh. I was born in Wales, went to school in Wales and my mother was Welsh. I’m Welsh. It’s my place of birth, my country.–John Prescott

In Wales, it’s eight different weathers in a day.–Piper Perabo

To live in Wales is to be conscious at dusk of the spilled blood that went into the making of the wild sky–R. S. Thomas

I don’t know how you get dressed if you live in Wales, because it’s pouring rain and then it’s hot sunshine, and then it might hail. It’s just so confusing.–Piper Perabo

I really see myself as a homegirl. Wales is my first home.–Katherine Jenkins

I would like to go back to Wales. I’m obsessed with my childhood and at least three times a week dream I am back there.–Anthony Hopkins

“Do you miss Wales?” Tessa inquired. Will shrugged lightly. “What’s to miss? Sheep and singing,” he said.–Cassandra Clare

I maintain that when I finally retire from my career in music, I will go and live back in Wales … I miss the simple life.–Ellie Goulding

The Bristol Channel was always my guide, and I was always able to draw an imaginary line from my bed to our house over in Wales. It was a great comfort.–Roald Dahl

Lovely the woods, waters, meadows, combes, vales,
All the air things wear that build this world of Wales.
–Gerard Manley Hopkins

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