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It will forever be known as the Great Shrubaggedon of 2012. It will go down in infamy and my family will all recount where they were the day two of our lush, vibrant burning bushes lost their luster and turned a bedimmed burnished color. I was beside myself, thinking my notorious brown thumb had claimed yet another victim. Hippie Husband and I wracked our brains. We weighed our options. One evening, he turns to me and nonchalantly says, “hey, I think it’s spider mites.” And then the googling began. Furiously, I typed and searched images. There it was, the answer to our flora whoas.

The tiny answer we were looking for.

The tiny answer we were looking for.

I soaked up the information and learned that spider mites (Family: Tetranychidae) are classed as a type of arachnid, relatives of insects that also includes spiders, ticks, daddy-longlegs and scorpions. Spider mites are small and often difficult to see with the unaided eye. Their colors range from red and brown to yellow and green, depending on the species of spider mite and seasonal changes in their appearance.

Many spider mites produce webbing, particularly when they occur in high populations. This webbing gives the mites and their eggs some protection from natural enemies and environmental fluctuations. Webbing produced by spiders, as well as fluff produced by cottonwoods, often is confused with the webbing of spider mites. Upon further inspection, there was indeed small strands of webbing all throughout our affected bushes.

Interestingly, most spider mite activity peaks during the warmer months. the outbreak occurred over a blazingly hot August week here in Ohio. The mites can develop rapidly during this time, becoming full-grown in as little as a week after eggs hatch.

This is an up close picture of the damage caused by the mites.

This is an up close picture of the damage caused by the mites.

After mating, mature females may produce a dozen eggs daily for a couple of weeks. The fast development rate and high egg production can lead to extremely rapid increases in mite populations. When I say it happens fast, I mean it. It took precious little time for the shrubs to start showing their plight.

One thing that allowed the mite’s population to take over was that we rarely water our landscaping. We prefer to conserve water whenever possible, however adequate watering of plants during dry conditions can limit the importance of drought stress on spider mite outbreaks. Periodic hosing of plants with a forceful jet of water can physically remove and kill many mites, as well as remove the dust that collects on foliage and interferes with mite predators. Disruption of the webbing also may delay egg laying until new webbing is produced. Sometimes, small changes where mite-susceptible plants are located or how they are watered can greatly influence their susceptibility to spider mite damage. Ooops. At least we know better this year.

Healthy leaf vs damaged leaf.

Healthy leaf vs damaged leaf.

Spider mites feed with long, needle-like mouthparts that are inserted into plant cells. Contents of the individual cells are extracted resulting in decreased chlorophyll content in the leaves with many small white or yellow dots called, “stippling.” Chlorophyll is essential to plants because it is the substance in the cellsthat converts sunlight into energy for the plant. When it is removed, the plant literally starves. In addition, the mites absorb the excess water in the cells as well, causing a drought- like conditions where the leaves will droop and in severe cases, like ours, begin to fall off.

After our initial diagnosis the next step was to research our treatment options. Pesticides are a no-go at our hippie homestead. I was on a mission to find holistic options to rid my bushes of their infestation. I wanted something that would be safe AND effective. I came across an answer that was even better. Not only was it safe, it was seriously inexpensive. What I needed was some dish soap, a spray bottle and water. Lucky for me I save my spray bottles to reuse them for things all over the house and garden.

Soaps have been used to control insects for more than 200 years. Recently, there has been increased interest in and use of these products. This change is due to a better understanding of how to use soaps most effectively and a desire to try insecticides that are easier and safer to use than many currently available alternatives.

How soaps and detergents kill insects is still poorly understood. In most cases, control results from disruption of the cell membranes of the insect. Soaps and detergents may also remove the protective waxes that cover the insect, causing death through excess loss of water.

The amounts I used were 2-3 teaspoons of water to a spray bottle of water. Make sure to add the soap to the water and not vice versa, I learned this lesson the hard way. I applied the mixture liberally to the affected area of the two bushes and over sprayed to cover some of the healthy growth, hindering the spread of the mites now that I had them on the run. Apply the solution in the early morning or evening. During these times it will take it longer to dry and the remedy is most effective while wet.

The soap solution has to directly reach the mites to kill them, so I sprayed both the top and underside of the leaves and as much of the branches as I could. I also noticed some webbing at the base of the plants, so those were doused with the mixture as well. I did this over the course of three weeks, spraying every four mornings or so.

The plants never regenerated, but they also didn’t get any worse. Nor did the infestation and damage spread to any other shrubs in flowerbed. I wouldn’t know the extent of the damage until next spring and waiting through the fall and winter was pretty intense. With the first buds of spring, which couldn’t come fast enough, however, my mind was put at ease. At the end of April, the leaves of my bushes finally emerged into their full, green, lush glory.

This shows the extent of the damage- photo was taken in the evening so please excuse the poor lighting.

This shows the extent of the damage- photo was taken in the evening so please excuse the poor lighting.

Healthy, full burning bushes.

Healthy, full burning bushes.

So what did I learn over the past nine months?

  • Spider mites infestations can happen quickly especially if conditions are right. Prolonged heat, drought, or not watering plants.
  • Spider mites drain plants of essentials such as water and chlorophyll, causing, “stippling,” brown, yellow, gold leaves that are dry and eventually fall off.
  • The signs of mites are webbing around the leaves, stems, and branches, small bumps on leaves, “stippling.”
  • Mites can be controlled by watering the plant and hitting the leaves with jets of water to knock eggs and mites off the plant.
  • If an infestation occurs a solution of 2-3 teaspoons of dish soap to a full spray bottle of water applied every four to five days over the course of a few weeks will eliminate the infestation.

I hate that I had to learn this lesson, but I am confident that in the future I will be more prepared when our plants are under siege by a tiny army of plant cell sucking miscreants.

Happy, healthy spring,

Lauryn

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I never liked schedules or routines but it seems these days I have fallen into some that I really adore. The only schedules I ever had as a child were school, sports, work and family dinners. Aside from these things, everything else in my life could be done when I wanted to do them. As an adult I never stuck to a routine, not really anyway. Nothing hard and fast, that’s for sure save for bedtimes and, again, family dinners. So when and how did I fall into a routine around here and how in the world did I come to actually depend on it?

Most people would would think that having children would have caused this shift in my lifestyle, but that’s not it. Our lives have always been organic- in that we do what we want, when we want. I would clean when I had time, we would run errands anytime morning or evening, laundry was done on an as needed basis and breakfast and lunches were made when we were all hungry. As you can imagine it was chaotic, though I never would have admitted it at the time, if I even bothered to notice.

I didn’t sit down one day and decide our lack of a schedule wasn’t working for us. Nothing changed over night- it evolved all on its own to become what it is today. And now I am somewhat (okay, very) OCD that things stay the way they are. Why? Simply because this is what works for our family and our lifestyle and leaves mama a whole lot less stressed out everyday.

Five and a half years ago we moved to this suburban location and I learned very quickly that suburban living meant that anyone could stop over at anytime. Neighbors always had something going on and our outdoor meetings could, at any time, result in an invitation to come into our house, from a child needing a bathroom break to a friend wanting to see the changes we made in the house. I got it into my head that the house needed to be presentable at all times for this very reason. Thus was born my, “all chores must be accomplished by 10am,” philosophy. Why 10am? It seemed like the time when people would get moving around the development, when people would venture out to do yard work or play with children.

I personally define chores as those annoying daily tasks that always need to be done. For me it is getting the dishes from the dishwasher put away so that it is ready to receive another load and nothing should be in the sink. The bathroom should be cleaned up, clothing gathered up and put in the laundry basket, floor cleaned and nothing on laying out on the counter. I sweep and clean the kitchen floor and check to see if the floors need vacuumed- they usually do. My vacuum and I have developed a special relationship over the years. I also clean the cat litter everyday and change the bunny litter if it is needed. All of this is done by 10am, though if I am really motivated it gets done by 8:30am. Accounting for taking Logan to school it bumps it back to 9am.

I have also developed a routine for laundry that I really like. I am able to do the majority of laundry on Mondays and Fridays. Monday’s laundry gets us through the week and Friday’s through the weekend. It also opens the washing machine up during the week and relieves any stress if I decide to wash curtains, stuffed animals or bedding.

Generally, though not always, laundry is finished by 10am save for putting it away. On Mondays and Fridays, laundry is the first thing I gather up before starting my other chores.

I do other necessary evils throughout the day as I have time. These are on an as needed schedule. Cleaning the bathtub, organizing closets, wash down walls, dusting, washing windows and anything else that requires my attention though isn’t considered a daily chore. Having done everything by 10am and spreading out what I want to do means I’m not stressing about getting other things done throughout the day. Less stress= a happy mama and we all know what they say about mama being happy (insert evil laughter).

My philosophy is to have everything done so that if someone stops over I wouldn’t be embarrassed to invite them into my home. I also like to avoid any sort of real work on the weekends because we always have something to do as a family. On the weekends I do dishes and straighten up and that’s about it. I don’t want to have to wait on cleaning the house to be able to go out and have fun.

My biggest pet peeve in this whole world is a dirty kitchen. I spend a majority of my time in that room and can’t even consider cooking (which I do three times a day) if it is dirty. My mom taught me years ago to clean up as I go and that has stuck with me. Consider baking cookies. I’m a pretty messy baker. If I didn’t have my dishes done and the dishwasher available my sink would be piled high with mixing bowls, measuring spoons and other utensils and I would lose my mind- no really, I would, I know this from experience.

As if my morning routine weren’t enough, I have one for evenings as well. I once read an old wive’s tale that said something to the effect of, “a dirty kitchen left over night will cause a restless sleep.” Man, did that one stick! I don’t know when I became a neat freak, because if you ask my parents it didn’t happen soon enough, but now if something is left unfinished I do have a more difficult time falling asleep at night. I need my beauty sleep, so we can’t have that! After dinner, dishes are cleaned and loaded in the dishwasher. I usually run it in the morning after breakfast. The house gets a once over and I can retire to family time satisfied that everything is done.

Schedules are something I used to ridicule until mine was developed. Now, I really can’t imagine doing anything around here without my always dependable routine.

Wishing you all clean and uncluttered home harmony,

Lauryn

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The Mockery of Silence

“You are going to love it when your kids are in school and you finally have some time to yourself.”

STFU. I said it and I will say it again in all of its profanity laden glory, “shut the fuck up.”

It’s a bittersweet moment dropping your baby off at kindergarten. Of course I am thrilled and excited for her new adventures in school, but this house is too quiet with its walls whispering the memories of infants giggling and tiny footsteps in the halls. My youngest has taken her first steps in growing up and leaving the nest. She is no longer a baby, nor a toddler. She is a child- a school age child. How and when did this happen?

I look at the future with such optimism and enthusiasm. I have watched both of my children grow and learn with wide eyed wonder and curiosity that only the innocence and perfection of childhood can bring. I love listening to them form their own opinions and pursue new and ever changing interests. I am content to know that I am helping them develop into thriving tiny people who will grow into thriving big people.

The days of babyhood are over in my house. There will be no more cribs and strollers, 2am feedings and sink baths. Never again from a child of mine will I experience first words or steps and I won’t be wearing spit-up or pureed anything on my shirts. There will be many more firsts, but none so pivotal or sacred as those which happen during the days of babydom. It’s far too quiet in here.

I worry, as any mother would, that I didn’t give enough or do enough for my children when they were so small. Knowing full well and logically I gave everything I had or could wish to have to my little ones. I scold myself on the darkest of nights that our life isn’t perfect and it isn’t how I imagined it in my own childhood reveries- and somehow it’s never going to be good enough. In the cold harsh light of day those fears tend to melt as I watch them laugh and play- knowing nothing of their mom’s hopes and dreams of perfection. It is good, what we have. It’s great actually. I’d be lying if I said any differently, but I am being honest and candid here, so fears, insecurities and regrets, as trivial and unwarranted as they may be, still make their appearances in my psyche.

I don’t love my time to myself. I’m a mother- first and foremost and anyone who would trade the awesomeness that is being around their children for some damn time to themselves is selfish. I cherish the moments I have with my children- not count the minutes until they end. I know I gave up so much to be a stay at home mother but I knew from the beginning it would never become a regret or sacrifice. Time goes by so quickly- every single moment I have with my kids is so very important to me- so sacred. There is no other bond in life so great, so breathtaking.

I loved them both from the moment I peed on a stick and the line turned blue for fuck’s sake. That moment, more than eight years ago rendered me completely at their disposal. My life, my entire legacy was forged through the realization of motherhood and all of its glory. So here I sit. Typing away as my children take their steps toward independence. The only sounds to be heard is the ticking of the clock on the wall as Father Time mocks my denial and the clicking of the keys as I lay out the words that fill my head and the heaviness of my heart. It’s far too quiet in here.

I do not enjoy this time to myself. I’m many things- but I am a mother first and without the sounds of children around I’m not certain what to do with myself. I’m not ready to be done with babies. I’m not ready to cross over to another chapter in my life where there are no little cries, no tiny laughs, no first teeth and sore nipples. I feel like a woman who is going through, “the change,” who resigns herself to age and time and reluctantly accepts her child-bearing days have passed her by.

I have so much yet to do for the children I do have, yes. So many more firsts to enjoy and milestones to praise and welcome. This is a new chapter and I cannot wait to turn the page. I can’t wait for first dances and mother daughter conversations akin to Rory and Lorelie Gilmore. I look forward to projects in school and sports, for the day when my husband takes Logan to teach him to drive. I look even further into my crystal ball and envision first dates, weddings and even grandchildren. I look forward to reading the rest of this book, but my book of babies is finished- and my spirit cries to re-read it again…

It’s just far too quiet in here.

 

Logan, just one week old, laying next to Hippie Husband’s dedication tattoo.

Kaelynne, five months and her big brother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a mother’s love,

 

Lauryn

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Abyss of Grief

I lost a really good friend on Thursday, just two days ago. It’s been so difficult to put into words the grief, anger and sadness that I feel over her passing. The past few days have been a roller coaster ride of emotions. I have tried in vain to box up my feelings and file them into some kind of category so I can more easily understand them and cope with them, but that has proven time and again to be impossible. What is much easier for me to do during situations like this is to write. Through writing I have always felt like I can just allow the feelings to happen naturally as I recount experiences. I can’t guarantee a coherent entry this time around- as I am writing only as I feel with no real structure.

Ashley was the first close friend I have ever known who has died. Died. That word feels so cold; so definite, so absolute. She passed over. She crossed over. Those words, to me, give hope to an event like death. I know, in the cockles of my heart that there is something that awaits us after we leave this world. In that I always thought I would find solace. It brings little peace as I wade through the shock and disbelief of her passing. In time there will be less anger toward this unfairness in losing someone I genuinely cared about and I am sure the anger will be replaced by acceptance. What I can’t say for sure is that peace will ever enter my heart. I don’t know how a person can make peace with such a tragic event.

I should explain some things here. When I say tragic and shocking, I am purposely conveying how devastating and unbelievable it was to find out such a vibrant and lively person was found fighting for her life; in the prime of her life, no less. Sometimes we expect death. It doesn’t make it any less painful to lose someone when death is lurking behind every corner. I remember the death of my grandmother. We’d known for days. It wasn’t much of a forewarning, but enough so that when the moment came we had prepared ourselves for the inevitable. Ashley’s death was a complete surprise.

There are many facets as to why the circumstances surrounding her death are so traumatic. Firstly, her and I had bonded over being mothers. Our sons were nearly the same age. They were both young, not yet tarnished by cold hard reality. For her little one, that all changed when he found his mother unconscious on the floor of their apartment late Wednesday evening. My mind can’t even conceptualize the horror he must have felt and I tear up thinking of the innocence he lost that fateful night. I have asked myself so many questions trying to understand how the situation could possibly be handled by a child, when I know that I, as an adult, would have lost my proverbial marbles. It also makes me wonder if I should sit down with my own children and discuss what should be done if, god/dess forbid they are ever faced with such a situation. For the time being, however, I have found myself just watching them carelessly playing and listening to their laughter and little voices none the wiser that life can be a cruel, cruel mistress.

Ashley’s situation immediately affected everyone who knew her. I personally didn’t know anything until late Thursday morning. Social media being the blessing it is when it comes to spreading information instantaneously. I went right into prayer mode. I’m pagan, but the pagans I am friends with all believe in the power of thought and prayer. Prayer doesn’t always bring the miracles we hope for and in this instant it failed us, but it does and always will bring comfort. For one, I am in Ohio and she was living in Tennessee. The mere act of lighting a candle and turning my thoughts to something greater than myself- beseeching the God, Goddess or infinite all-encompassing energy of the universe is all I could offer to assist her and her family. Even when the outcome is contrary to the prayer, there is a sense of connection to all that is.

Of all the events that have transpired over the last few days, only one brings the greatest amount of heartache and melancholy. The last conversation Ashley and I had with one another was like any conversation between two women; two mothers. We spoke of our plans for the future, of our families and the holidays to come. Her thoughts were always squared directly on those she loved and their lives together. It was just hours before she was found that we had talked about these things. What sort of cruel joke is that? It’s heartbreaking. How can someone with so much life, so many aspirations, so many dreams yet to be fulfilled just be gone?

There is a randomness to life that translates into unfairness in our grief. I have heard the poems and read the romanticized compositions that deal with death. I know the prayers by heart- the verses from the bible in Ecclesiastes:

 

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

 

and the other passages like this:

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

 

I can even recount stanzas from Shakespeare:

 

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow.

 

Death is one of the only constants in life; save for change. Though I personally subscribe to the philosophy that death is just a change; a transition from this world to the next. To idealize the notion of death’s absoluteness is one thing, to encounter it in life, I have found, is something altogether different. Anecdotes, ballads and sonnets all fall away into the hollowness of experience. The words hold their meanings as they always did, but they feel empty and lost in my despair. Those things that once brought me comfort, now bring pause. Not because their beauty is diminished or their words less true, but because the experience is no longer akin to waxing philosophical. The words are now concrete and apply to someone I knew, not some hypothetical discussion or sermon.

There are moments of clarity, like pin-hole size stars that radiate through the din of an overcast night. I am no astronomer, nor do I fully understand the intricacies of those far away glints of light; there is an appreciation of their majesty, an understanding of something greater out there. And so it is with death, I suppose. I know medically why a person’s body fails to recover. I know that the universe, in all  its splendor and glory, is random and chaotic. Yet, even logically approaching these things, death still eludes my complete comprehension.

There will come a time of resignation. After mourning, when grief, loss, pain, sadness and anger begin to fade and the light of acceptance will creep into my heart. That moment is too far off. This wound far too new and too deep to speak of healing, yet. Though I know someday I will carry with me this scar of loss across my spirit. I know certain songs or subjects will make me reach inside to touch it and recount these days. Until then, and until my own dying day I want only for Ashley’s death to stand sentinel in my life as a reminder of how truly precious every day, hour, minute and second actually are. It’s cliche to say the future is not promised to us, but a truer sentiment has never been uttered.

I will always miss my friend. I will always feel the horror when I think of her son finding her and losing his mother in the span of a mere 22 hours. I will always encounter sadness for her parents who lost a child long before her time. My promise to her is that I will live and remember her and through me she will live on as a memory, until that day when I, myself, become nothing but a memory.

My you rest in peace and may your smile infect the heavens for ever and ever.
Ashley Neal
October 20, 1983- August 16, 2012

All of my love,

Lauryn

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Recently, I was told I have my hands in too many projects. I have too much going on. The truth is, I do. I have interests and passions, projects and ideas that if I even tried to list them out I would get a hand cramp. It doesn’t stop me. I can’t imagine my life without these things. It would feel empty and unrewarding. I only have so much time in this world and there is just so much to learn and do. I will never be burned out, nor will I ever be so busy that the important things in life get ignored. My family always comes first and they know it. This is why they are my greatest motivation and biggest supporters. There is nothing I do that cannot be passed down to my children and so, for now, they share in my eclectic lifestyle.

My husband, who I met just over nine years ago (we joke that Shark Week is our unofficial anniversary since that was the week we got cable together after he moved in just days after meeting) and I have always had the same interests, values and goals for our life together. It’s one of the cornerstones to our relationship. It’s why we knew, after just 24 hours, we were meant for one another. I know, it sounds so cliche. We talked about everything that first night together and it was that long and winding discussion that sealed our fate.

We never compromised ourselves for one another and over the years as our interests have grown and evolved we continue to support one another. We have departed on some things- spirituality being one, but the important things, how to raise children, our lifestyle, our ultimate goals and dreams, we have grown more intertwined and stronger in our convictions.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I regret anything I do or think. I’m passionate and driven and that isn’t going to stop. Is there too much going on in my life? I don’t think so. If I weren’t constantly researching, learning or creating I am convinced I would be totally unfulfilled.  I’ve always been this way, too, even before Google and Youtube (which I attribute to my new found love for crochet).

As far as what it is I actually DO, it’s a little of everything. When I go to buy something I always ask myself if I couldn’t just make it myself. I am working on learning to sew- that is one thing that has always eluded me, but soon that too will change. And as far as what I think and believe that is ever changing- my interests vary greatly from prepping/homesteading to a very eclectic spirituality.

I have tried to define myself in the past. I have tried to make people understand who I am, but ultimately I really can’t be described in a few sentences. Even this entry is completely ambiguous. I can’t simply say, “I’m this and I do or believe such and such.” I do, however, think that life is about experiencing everything I can- learning about everything I can and never stopping. Does that make me fickle or inconsistent? I don’t think so. It makes me who I am. It’s taken me a very long time to get to this point, but I like myself, I like my life and I’m passed the point of apologizing for being anything but who I am.

 

Keep being uniquely you,
Lauryn

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Whew. Is it Friday already? This week has been a whirlwind and I feel terrible for not having written anything since the last Friday Fun blog. What a strange feeling to not have written anything for seven days. Finding the time to actually sit down and compose something significant, profound or informative was just not happening. I did get done what I set out to do this week and so much more, so I suppose that’s a good thing. Life is about the little victories. I set up a Facebook account for this blog which can be found here so anyone can easily stay updated and I post over there more than I do here. I have a love of all things social media (except Twitter, I’ve never actually tried that site. I feel like I am too old, lol).  I try to share relevant information on the Suburban Hippie wall as well as graphics and other links that bring a smile to my face and speak to me. We all need a little of that from tome to time– reminders of how special life is, especially when I, like a lot of people, get down about things going on here in the states and around the world. So I try to share something positive for every thing I post that is troubling. I’ve always been an activist and an empath which makes it difficult to enjoy the little things now and then, so the reminders help me remember there is good in the world and there are things I can be doing everyday to celebrate life instead of being a cynical pessimist (which I have mastered over the years).

Today’s blog, I am happy to say, wrote itself. It’s Friday the 13th after all and what better time to share some common superstitions and their elusive origins? I have always been superstitious. I mean, irrationally superstitious. When I was pregnant with both of my children, I refused to read or watch anything about birth defects and other problems like that. Here I am, one of those people who likes to be completely educated about everything I undertake and I could not bring myself to come close to any of that. I told you, irrational.

Here are the 13 (how’s that for synchronization?) most common superstitions and a little background on how they all got started.

The Number 13

The number 13 has such a bad rep, which is sad for me, since I was born on this cursed date. There are no 13th floors marked on elevators, even though we all know that the 14th is still the 13th. You aren’t supposed to invite 13 guests to dinner. 13 even has it’s own phobia: Triskaidekaphobia.

The initial reason for the abject fear of 13 comes from the Bible and the story of the Last Supper. In it, Jesus sits down to a meal with the 12 Apostles, making the total diners 13. We all know that meal ended poorly for two of the guests and thus poor 13 was forever cursed.

(There is another theory that the story actually dates back to the Nordic gods where a similar story is told about 12 gods being invited to dinner and Loki crashed. This caused a fight that left Baldur, the favorite son of Odin, dead. Interesting.)

The most infamous evil of 13 comes when the calendar aligns to cause a Friday the 13th. Fridays have been notoriously bad luck days biblically. Not only was Christ crucified on a Friday, but it was the same day Adam and Eve got the boot from Eden and the flood that killed everyone but Noah happened on a Friday as well. So think on that the next time you say “T.G.I.F.”.

Black Cats

Though cats have been adored for ages by many ancient peoples including the Egyptians, Sumerians and Aunt Mildred, having a black cat cross your path is supposed to come with horrible consequences. Dun, dun dun….

The thinking behind this started during the witch hunts. Witches were thought to be able to communicate with certain animals and make them do their bidding. The cat was the chief among those “familiars”. A black cat was thought to be the worst as it was said to contain the soul of Satan himself. Therefore seeing a black cat meant that the devil was watching you. I can personally assure you the devil isn’t in any of my cats, despite myself being a witch. Although, there are times I am adequately convinced my fur babies are possessed.

Umbrellas Indoors

While some of these superstitions could be considered a little crazy, some are actually quite practical. Really, one should never open an umbrella indoors. Not because of bad luck, but because it could seriously hurt someone.

There is a thought that this is actually where the superstition came from. The introduction was the mechanical umbrella happened in the Victorian Era of England. The first versions of it were made with stiff steel poles that, when opened indoors, could cause major injuries like cuts and possible eye loss. (I would call that pretty unlucky.)

While that might be the case, the myth goes all the way back to the ancient Egyptians who also had umbrellas, though back then they were parasols, made for blocking the sun instead of the rain. If you were to open one indoors, where there was no sun, it was considered an offense against the sun god Ra who would curse you for it.

Broken Mirrors

While we all know that broken mirrors are a pain to clean up, it’s the threat of the 7 years bad luck that keeps most of us from carelessly knocking them over.

Some people believe that the reason breaking a mirror causes all those years of bad luck comes from an age when mirrors were considered luxury items and the cost of replacing a broken one would be equal to 7 years of a peasants salary. The superstition actually extends back quite a bit further to the Romans.

In Roman times there was a special form of doctor that was part physician and part mystic. They would use mirrors to divine the health of their patients. (Kind of like an ancient xray.) The doctor would fill a mirrored plate and glass with water and look at the reflection of the patient. If for some reason the reflection looked distorted the patient would be deemed ill. If, however, the mirror were to crack during the procedure, it would mean that they would be very sick for 7 years, the time the Romans believed it took for the human body to be completely renewed.

Hat on the Bed

There are so many different things to do with hats indoors, from removing them as a sign of respect, to where to place them. It is a common thought that if a person places their hat on the bed, something horrible will happen to them.

This comes from the fact that the bed looks like a coffin and when a person or solider died, their clothes and armor were placed on the lid as a sign of respect. Another thought is that a priest will always wear their hat indoors except for when they have to change into their vestments to perform final rites on the dead.

Either way, it’s only good manners to place your hat anywhere but the bed anyway.

Walking Under Ladders

Even though it’s always tempting, everyone knows that walking under a ladder is cause for some very very bad luck. The origin of this practical myth comes from a few different sources depending on who you are to believe.

When a ladder is placed against a wall it forms a triangle, one of the holiest symbols to the Egyptians. (As can be seen by their pyramids.) The thought was that if one walked underneath a ladder they break the symbol and anger the gods. This concept was taken later by the Christians, but instead of the triangle, they called it the Holy Trinity. The consequences where the same though.

People believed this so strongly, that prisoners were forced to walk underneath the ladder that led to the gallows. This scared them more than the actual hanging itself.

In the end it’s another superstition that just makes common sense, but it’s probably just easier to scare someone rather than risk having a hammer fall on their head.

Knock on Wood

What do you do if you say something out loud that you want to come true? You knock on wood. It’s strange, but of all the superstitions on this list, this is the one that is still most commonly done reflexively. (The most would probably have to be God Bless You when someone sneezes.)

The reason that people knock on wood comes from the pagan belief that good spirits lived in the trees. In order to get something that you want, you were to whisper the wish into the tree and knock two times to ensure the spirit was awake to take on the wish.

On the flip side, some people believed that you knock on wood to ward off bad spirits that would make the wish not come true.

Something Old, Something New

This wedding chant became a popular mantra and symbol of good luck in a marriage in the 1500’s. The full verse goes:

“Something old, something new
Something burrowed, something blue
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.”

The old is to keep connected with the brides past and her family. The new means optimism for the life after marriage. The burrowed thing usually comes from a friend who is in a good marriage as a charm for good luck. The reason for blue was that in Roman times, blue was the color of love which the Christians turned into meaning fidelity. (Most bridal gowns were blue up until the late 19th century.) Finally, the sixpence in the shoe was another good luck charm, this one from the Scots who believe that a coin in the shoe guarantees money

Itchy Palms

This superstition states that if the right hand itches, money coming in, but if the left hand itches money coming out. Or you’re having an allergic reaction to medication, and I don’t know why the South paw gets the raw deal but this sounds a bit funny to me.

Again the origin for this one is unknown, but the earliest recording of it comes from Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar, Brutus says, “Let me tell you Cassius, you yourself are much condemned to have an itching palm.” Sick burn Brutus.

Spilling Salt

Spilling salt may have been more of a manners issue than a bad luck issue…and then the it just became habit. Long ago salt was an expensive commodity, and one that had many useful purposes. Wasting salt was frowned upon, and so it is suggested that people just started saying it was bad luck so that people would be careful with it. Although, starting a rumor that to undo the bad luck is to waste more salt doesn’t make sense to me…but I’m not from long ago.

So now you have this “throw salt over your shoulder” to undo the bad luck…but not just any shoulder you have to throw it over your left shoulder. Why left? You throw it over the left shoulder because in some Christian beliefs the Devil hangs about over the left side of the body, looking for an opportunity to invade. Spilling salt, seen as an invitation for the Devil to do his deeds, because it’s such an abomination to be clumsy. The Devil needs to be put back in his place so you take the salt and throw it over the left shoulder (where he’s been hanging out) and it puts it right in his face! So, basically you invite the guy to come in and when he gets to the door your throw something in his face and tell him to go away, no wonder he’s so angry all the time. Another thought as to why spilling salt is bad is linked to the last supper. In Da Vinci’s painting Judas is seen spilling the salt, so if you spill the salt you might as well just go turn in your best friend so they can be executed.

Wishing on a Star

The planet Venus is named for the Roman goddess of love and is always the brightest point in the sky. The Romans built temples to Venus, and since it was the first “star” that could be seen in the sky for much of the year, and always the brightest whether seen in the morning or the evening, it was an easy way to remember it as a prayer point. What is the number one thing that people prayed to Venus for? Love, of course. The prayer evolved into a wish as people forgot the Goddess of Love and her origins, and the wish expanded into realms well outside the beginning point. Like so many other traditions and habits engrained in people that have found their way into modern times, wishing upon a star evolved from an ancient pagan religion. Simple as that.

Lucky Charms

A Horseshoe is considered lucky because, according to legend, the Devil can only move in a circle so when he sees a horseshoe, the gap in the middle confuses him and he turns back and won’t bother you. If this is true, the Devil is not as clever as he is publicized to be and maybe we should all rethink giving him so much credit.

The Rabbit’s Foot is considered lucky for a more historical reason. However, it wouldn’t be a superstition unless it was silly…so in certain stories the donor rabbit can’t just be any rabbit it must possess certain attributes, or have been killed in a particular place, or killed by a particular method, or by a person possessing particular attributes (e.g. by a cross-eyed man).

It also can’t just be any foot, it has to be the left hind foot of a rabbit, and not any left hind foot of a rabbit will do; the rabbit must have been shot or otherwise captured in a cemetery, further more, not just any left hind foot of a rabbit shot in a cemetery will do, it has to be during a full moon, or a new moon. It has to be Friday, preferably a rainy Friday, or Friday the 13th. Some say that the rabbit should be shot with a silver bullet, while others say that the foot must be cut off while the rabbit is still alive. You’ve gotta work for this lucky charm.

The idea that a rabbit’s foot is lucky comes from the pre-Celtic tradition of hunter clans rite of passage for their young members. These young males were first introduced to hunting by hunting rabbits. If they were successful, one of the hind feet of the rabbit was presented to them in a ceremony which would welcome them to manhood within the clan. How masculine, instead of a ten point buck to mount on your wall, you get a bunny foot.

God Bless You

This superstitious has so many possible origins, it’s the “choose your own adventure” version of superstitions. Here are you choices:

1. In 590 AD Gregory I became Pope and the bubonic plague was reaching Rome, sneezing was thought to be the one of the early symptoms. So Gregory I ordered unending prayer and parades of chanters through the streets, so perhaps it was just a timing thing. You sneeze and prayer chanters came by saying “God Bless You” on a loop, it was the hip thing to do at the time.

2. Some people think your heart stops beating and the phrase “bless you” is meant to ensure that it will start again, as a form of encouragement as it were.

3. Or maybe it’s because your soul can be thrown from your body when you sneeze, it can open your body to be attacked by the Devil (he’s such a jerk), or that it was your bodies way of throwing out the Devil or evil spirits (that guy just won’t take a hint!). So, saying “bless you” or “God bless you” puts up a shield so the Devil can’t get back in.

4. It could just be a phrase that was said because people didn’t really understand what sneezing was and they weren’t sure how to respond. It was the “lol” of the times.

5. Sneezing is a sign that God would answer your prayers, or an omen of good fortune or good luck. In this instance saying ‘bless you’ is a way of saying “way to go!”

So there you have it. The origins of the 13 most common superstitions. Enjoy this superstitious Friday the 13th and remember to take it all with a grain of salt– so long as you don’t spill it, that is.

Lauryn

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Not the Joneses

There is a point in your life when you realize life isn’t exactly how you imagined it as a child. It’s that point when you look around and reality smacks you in the face. This isn’t where I thought I would end up at 29. This looks nothing like the old farm houses and fields in all my day dreams with country  music soundtracks. No, my life is slightly different. It looks a lot more like scene from, “Edward Scissorhands,” where the camera pans out to show the cookie cutter homes and identical, albeit different colored, vehicles or like the opening credits from, “Weeds”. Just like that I am living in some kind of suburban alternate universe.

I can’t change where I live- not at this point in my life at least and I am most certainly not going to change the person I am to match the ideals and lifestyles of the Joneses around me. I am a dirt playing, tree hugging, all natural crunchy mama. While my neighbors waste their time with trivial pursuits, I am reading, researching and doing things around my home and yard that will increase the health and well being of those who dwell here. While the people in this community give into convenience, I am gardening, composting, cooking from scratch and taking the extra time to make my own cleaning products, pesticides and health and beauty products.

Yes. My life is simple. My ideals are wholesome. I am my own legacy. This is my journey that I wish to share with you. The ups and downs of my attachment parenting style, the struggle with my brown thumbs and the successes (and failures) of my natural, organic lifestyle!

I hope to inform and maybe entertain all who visit my little space on the net.

Happy Spring!

Lauryn

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