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Rosh Hashanah–A Celebration of Beginnings!

Rosh Hashanah  A Celebration of Beginnings!“May you be inscribed for a good and sweet year!”  This greeting is one of the Mantra’s of Rosh Hashanah, which means “head of the year.”   This important holiday celebration brings the opportunity for believers to wipe the slate clean of all that has been and move on with the gifts of G-d’s grace and blessings.

Rosh Hashanah is all about relationships.  It marks the anniversary of the relationship G-d created with mankind through Adam and Eve, and the birth of His relationship with humanity.  It reverently shares the desire for all human beings to be blessed with another year, totally connected to the One who began the world as we know it.

At Synagogues around the world, the sound of the shofar will mark the first sin of man and the atonement for that sin.  The blast of the lamb’s horn may be heard on both days of Rosh Hashanah, clearly demonstrating the hope for the coming year.    Apples dipped in honey also symbolize the desires for a sweet year and the realization that all good things come from the King of Heaven.

It’s always exciting to begin again.  This year, as your Jewish friends come to the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, wish them well.  Extend the blessing for all good things and in some small way, become a part of the sweetness that a new year brings no matter what your faith background.    What could be more wonderful than coming back to your roots, remembering all that has gone before, and delighting in all that is yet to be?  Wherever you are today, may you receive a clean slate, a chance to take a fresh breath and start again.  May you celebrate the joys of a renewed spirit, trusting in the relationship you have with the G-d of all Creation.  Shalom!

Rosh Hashanah  A Celebration of Beginnings!Rosh Hashanah  A Celebration of Beginnings!Rosh Hashanah  A Celebration of Beginnings!Rosh Hashanah  A Celebration of Beginnings!Rosh Hashanah  A Celebration of Beginnings!Rosh Hashanah  A Celebration of Beginnings!

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Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!

Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy birthday to one of the world’s most beloved children’s book authors, Shel Silverstein!  Sheldon Allan Silverstein was born on September 25, 1930, in Chicago,Illinois, to Nathan and Helen Silverstein.

Growing up with his sister, Peggy, in Logan Square, a community northwest of Chicago, Shel pursued his two favorite pastimes, baseball and drawing.  As an avid White Sox fan, he hoped to one day join the team, but realizing early in his adolescence that he possessed no athletic ability, drawing became his singular passion.  As a student at Roosevelt High School, he tried his best to get the attention of girls—at first through his failed athletic ability, then through his art—both to no avail.  Concentrating on his drawings in solitude, Silverstein had no mentor to study under and freely developed his own style.

He studied art at the University of Illinois for a year before expulsion due to grades, transferred to Chicago of Fine Arts for a year, finally to study English at Roosevelt University where he cartooned for the student paper, The Torch.  He did not complete his education, however, as he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War.  In retrospect, Silverstein looked upon his college years with contempt, feeling he could have seen the world rather than waste it in school.

Shel further blossomed as a cartoonist—and a reporter—during his time in the Army with his work on the Pacific edition of Stars and Stripes, lampooning the military.  Still, this time help a special place in his heart and he credits it towards his artistic growth, when he also learned to play the guitar.

Upon returning home, he worked odd jobs, including a stint atComiskeyPark, while freelancing as a cartoonist before meeting Hugh Hefner.  Shel then worked as a cartoonist for Playboy in 1956 while reporting stories for them from around the globe.  After a severe car accident rendered him immobile, he spent his recovery time cartooning and composing music.

But perhaps the most serendipitous encounter arose when a close friend of Silverstein’s, Tomi Ungerer, introduced Shel to his editor at Harper & Row, Ursula Nordstrom.  Both Tomi and Ursula persuaded Silverstein to give writing children’s books a try.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Among his classic children’s book collections are The Giving Tree, which a publisher rejected for being “too short”, as well as Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Runny Babbit.  Silverstein had never envisioned himself a children’s book writer and illustrator, with his darker humor and sardonic wit.  Yet both playful themselves out whimsically in his collections, whether walking a fine line or something more akin to a flying trapeze.

All in all, this artist led a rather unexpected career that ranged from cartooning for the military to working for Playboy, with eventually writing and illustrating award-wining children’s books, as well as playwriting and composing film scores.  It was a combination as eclectic as the man was talented.  Sadly, Shel left the world on May 10, 1999, inKey West,Florida.  However, his literary legacy lives on as his poetic humor continues to tickle funny bones and warm hearts around the world, both young and old.

shelsilverstein.com.

faculty.weber.edu/chansen/humanweb/projects/MeghanUng/biography.htm

super-childrens-books.com/shel-silverstein-biography.html

poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/104

Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!Happy Birthday, Shel Silverstein!

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Welcome, First Day of Fall!

Welcome, First Day of Fall!Welcome to the first day of Fall!

Twice a year, during the earth’s orbit around the sun, we experience equal amounts of daylight and nighttime as the sun crosses over the equator.  In the Spring, we call it Vernal Equinox, and every Fall in September it goes by the name of Autumnal Equinox.

But Autumnal Equinox is much more than marking the season before the nights get longer and the leaves change color, soon to parachute from branches to the ground below.  Equinox, meaning “equal night”, has its share of folklore and tradition as well.  Some are rooted in mythology, others are more grounded and carry their tradition to this day.  Those surrounding Autumnal Equinox included the following:

One of eight Wiccan festivals that honor nature, Called Sabbats, falls near this date in September.

In Greek mythology, Persephone (formerly named Kore) returns to the Underworld on Autumnal Equinox to live with her husband, Hades, for half a year after living on Earth with her mother, Demeter, starting at Vernal Equinox.

Mabon, the Witch’s Thanksgiving, was a Welsh god and the male “counterpart” to the Persephone myth.  Taken from his mother while only days old, Mabon gestates in the womb of Modron (the Great Mother) waiting to be reborn.

Higan (meaning “the other shore”—nirvana), a Buddhist memorial service, occurs around the time of Autumnal Equinox (as well as Vernal Equinox), for seven days and serves to comfort ancestral spirits with loved ones visiting family graves.

Michaelmas, the Christian holiday honoring the Archangel Michael, has pagan roots in Autumnal Equinox—end of harvest time, the marking of shorter days and longer nights, as well as the expulsion of Lucifer from Heaven by Archangel Michael.

Clearly, this time of year has a variety of cultural observances spread around the world, diverse in custom, yet united in season.  This September, when experiencing one of the biannual “balancings of nature”, remember the multitude of celebrations that share the advent of Autumn.

feri.com/frand/Wicca4.html

japanese.about.com/library/blhiraculture27.htm

wisegeek.com/what-is-michaelmas.htm

rmindependent.com/2009/09/fun-facts-about-the-autumnal-equinox/

earthwitchery.com/mabon.html#anchor513371

Welcome, First Day of Fall!Welcome, First Day of Fall!Welcome, First Day of Fall!Welcome, First Day of Fall!Welcome, First Day of Fall!Welcome, First Day of Fall!

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Gratitude Comes In a Million Ways!

Gratitude Comes In a Million Ways!It’s been said that if we truly counted our blessings, we may never again have to think about our sorrows.  Counting blessings is like stacking up reasons to be grateful.  If we planted a flower, for instance, for every time we were conscious about our sense of gratitude, many of us would have an incredible garden to behold.  Some of us though, may look around and wonder why nothing ever seems to bloom.

Charles Dickens reminded us to “reflect upon our present blessings, of which everyone has many, not on our past misfortunes, of which everyone has some.”  Getting your gratitude garden to grow may be as simple as that, reflecting on your present blessings.  If you offer thanks for your family, your health, your work, your faith, or some other area of your life, you may find more seeds of joy than you expected.  You may have a million reasons to be thankful.

Has anyone done something nice for you in the past few days?  Have you shared your talents and your ideas with another?  Have you had a chance to shop for something new, walk peacefully along the road, undisturbed and quiet?  Have you been able to take a class, go to a movie, worship as you please?  If so, then today, you have delightful reasons to be grateful.

As we come to Gratitude Day, let’s open our hearts to all that we have and hold  closely those things that strengthen our lives and make the ride worthwhile.  When we think about it, we may discover we have an abundance of reasons to declare our joy right out loud.

If your list begins to run dry, remember all the people who are grateful today because they know You!  No doubt, they are offering thanks for wonderful you at this very moment!

Gratitude Comes In a Million Ways!Gratitude Comes In a Million Ways!Gratitude Comes In a Million Ways!Gratitude Comes In a Million Ways!Gratitude Comes In a Million Ways!Gratitude Comes In a Million Ways!

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It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month

Its National Hispanic Heritage MonthOver eighty United States congressmen and women; Nobel Prize winners; Pulitzer Prize winners; Oscar winners; Tony award winners; not to mention countless key military figures and frontiersmen.  These are just a handful of the achievements made by a multitude of Hispanic-Americans over the past two centuries.  But it wasn’t until 1968 that President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week, which later broadened into National Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988.

Every 15th of September through the 15th of October, Hispanic-Americans are recognized for their leadership and pivotal roles in shaping our society.  From the days of our country’s fight for freedom during the Revolutionary War to modern day mavericks who revolutionized the world of entertainment, Latinos have oftentimes been at the forefront of many breakthroughs:

  • General Bernardo de Gálvez, who aided General George Washington during the Revolutionary War with a supply of arms, money, and other essentials.
  • Post-Civil War, irrigation techniques, which were deemed necessary in America’s Western territories, were learned from Mexicans.
  • Since the Revolutionary War, Hispanics have carried a proud tradition of serving in each war theUnited States has participated in, with thirty-eight Hispanics being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor throughout that time.
  • The archetype of the cowboy—or vaqueros—from the Old West derived from Hispanic culture.
  •  César Chávez founded the United Farm Workers Union, which gave harvest workers the means to negotiate labor contracts with growers of produce.
  • Famous Latino sports figures include: Roberto Clemente (baseball) , Lee Trevino(golf), Esteban Bellan (first Hispanic major league baseball player), and Nancy Lopez (golf).
  • In the world of entertainment, Cuban band leader and producer Desi Arnaz (I Love Lucy) pioneered the “three camera” technique for filming a TV sit-com that became the industry’s standard.
  • Rita Moreno, the first Hispanic (and second ever) to win an Oscar (West Side Story), a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy (for guest hosting The Muppet Show).

And the list goes on…. As clearly evident, Hispanic-Americans have not only helped lay the foundation for our country, but have played active architects in every facet of its design, both practically and recreationally.  Through ingenuity, innovation, and an unyielding strive for independence, Hispanic-Americans have been the bellwethers and keystone figures in our past and present who will undoubtedly serve as beacons to our nation’s future.

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933896.html

http://www.ma.iup.edu/Pueblo/latino_cultures/contrib.html

http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/hispanic-heritage/when-is-hispanic-heritage-month.html

Its National Hispanic Heritage MonthIts National Hispanic Heritage MonthIts National Hispanic Heritage MonthIts National Hispanic Heritage MonthIts National Hispanic Heritage MonthIts National Hispanic Heritage Month

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Patriot Day 9/11

Patriot Day 9/11“On … Patriot Day, we remember and honor those who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We will not forget the events of that terrible morning nor will we forget how Americans responded in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in the skies over Pennsylvania — with heroism and selflessness; with compassion and courage; and with prayer and hope.”

~ Excerpt from a proclamation by President George W. Bush, 2002

On this day that many Americans refer to as 9/11 or September 11th, the flag of the United States of America should be displayed at half-mast on the homes and in the hearts of Americans. Nearly 3,000 people died in the surprise attacks and the economic impact was immense. The attacks have greatly increased attention to national security in the United States.

Patriot Day is a day to take a moment to thank the brave men and women of that fateful day, and of our everyday lives. It’s a special time to stop and say “thank you” to the police officers, fire fighters, EMT’s and military personnel who guard our communities and our nation. It’s a time to remember that the term “hero” applies to these everyday individuals, more so than to comic book characters, sports stars and entertainers.

It is also a day to display and salute our American flag, which represents the fabric of our country and our national character. The 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and 50 stars on the blue square are a symbol of our unity and our perseverance. On Patriot Day, we fly it at half mast to honor our country and those lost on this terrible day. Americans are strong. Americans are free. Americans have always come together for one another in times of great distress. President George W. Bush said it best, continuing the excerpt from above:

“Americans also have fought back against terror by choosing to overcome evil with good. By loving their neighbors as they would like to be loved, countless citizens have answered the call to help others. They have contributed to relief efforts, improved homeland security in their communities, and volunteered their time to aid those in need. This spirit of service continues to grow as thousands have joined the newly established USA Freedom Corps, committing themselves to changing America one heart at a time through the momentum of millions of acts of decency and kindness.”

Let us remember those we lost. Let us be diligent in keeping each other safe. Let us hold our families a little closer, and our friends a little bit more dear. And let us move forward into the future as a stronger, kinder and more aware nation.

Please take a moment now to remember those we lost that day, and God bless America.

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/patriot-day

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_Day

http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/911/about.html

http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/blpatriotsday.htm

Patriot Day 9/11Patriot Day 9/11Patriot Day 9/11Patriot Day 9/11Patriot Day 9/11Patriot Day 9/11

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Labor Day Recipes

Labor Day RecipesHeld on the first Monday of September, Labor Day in the United States of America originated as a way to celebrate the strengths and contributions of labor unions to the United States economy. This day of rest unofficially signals the end of summer, the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons, and serves as a marker for the fashion-forward to stop wearing the color white.

So how do most Americans celebrate this day? Parades, relaxation and cookouts are all favorites! If you have picnic plans for Labor Day, we’re here to tempt your taste buds with a few festive favorites. Are you hungry yet? If not, you will be by the end of our delicious list! Try ‘em out and then tell us what you thought in our comments section!

 STARTER/SIDE:

All-American Potato Salad

  • 2 pounds Yukon potatoes (3 to 4 medium), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 small minced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise + more if needed
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

Place potatoes in large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over medium high heat; add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring once or twice, until potatoes are tender.

Drain potatoes and transfer to large bowl. Add vinegar and, using rubber spatula, toss gently to combine. Let stand until potatoes are just barely warm or almost fully cooled, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together onion, pickle relish, mayonnaise, mustard powder, celery salt, garlic and onion powders, parsley, and pepper. Using rubber spatula, gently fold dressing and eggs into potatoes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour; serve.

 (Potato salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. (Recipe from http://joelens.blogspot.com/2011/07/all-american-potato-salad.html)

 MAIN DISH:

BBQ Ribs

  •  3 slabs sm. to med. size pork ribs
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • 1 c. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 c. A-1 steak sauce
  • 1 c. Kraft Barbeque Sauce
  • 1/3 c. liquid Hickory Smoke
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 3 tsp. onion salt
  • 2 tsp. black peppers

Use 7 lbs. charcoal briquettes and 1 lb. of wet hickory chips. Wash – rinse ribs. Place in large pan. Sprinkle garlic, onion salt, pepper evenly. Cover with lemon juice and hot sauce. Let set in cool place several hours or overnight in refrigerator.

Heat grill, preferably with charcoal briquettes – hickory wood. Wait for coals to turn white. Place meat on grill, turn often. If flare-up of flame douse with clear water. The meat should cook slowly with a cover to absorb ample flavor.

Mix all sauces in bowl. When ribs begin to get tender, brush ribs on both sides. When meat begins to pull away from bone, remove from heat. Preserve remaining sauce.

(Recipe from http://labor-day-weekend.com/labor-day-weekend-party-planning/recipes.htm)

DESSERT:

Fruit Cobbler

  •  1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups fresh peaches, pitted and sliced

Melt butter or margarine in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Set aside to cool.

Stir together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix in milk and vanilla. Pour batter over melted butter.

DO NOT MIX OR STIR. Spoon fruit with juice over the batter. DO NOT MIX OR STIR.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 minutes.

(Recipe from http://allrecipes.com/Recipe-Tools/Print/Recipe.aspx?RecipeID=12521&origin=detail&&Se)

REFERENCES (BlueMountain.com is not associated with any of these websites): Wikipedia & Time and date

Labor Day RecipesLabor Day RecipesLabor Day RecipesLabor Day RecipesLabor Day RecipesLabor Day Recipes

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Your September Birthday–A Star Is Born!

Your September Birthday  A Star Is Born!You’ll have a star-studded birthday!  September finds you walking in the midst of enchanting fall flowers in a wide variety of colorful asters.  Your birth flower, the aster,  means star, so it adds to the special quality of your birthday month.  Of course, along with the asters, comes your birthstone which is the Star-Sapphire in its vibrant blue colors.  Demonstrating its powers of wisdom and purity, the sapphire was the choice of ancient Kings.  It was said to protect its wearers from slipping into the grips of envy, or from being poisoned by snakes.  Second only to diamonds for its lasting beauty and hardness, it brings the gifts of sincerity and faithfulness to your birthday sign.

Yes, you’re a star!  You lead with your heart, think clearly about the matters at hand, and reign with kindness over all your relationships.  You are patient and practical, refined and gracious, and have a touch of aristocratic reserve.  Your powers of observation are also outstanding and people come to you, seeking your guidance and wisdom.  In other words, you rock!

Like the star that you are, you know the best ways to make an impression and to keep your light shining.  You have many talents and it’s not surprising to see you do incredibly beautiful things with your hands.  You love to display handmade treasures to remind others of the gifts that come from nature and from the heart.  That being said, you’re not exactly ready for the farm life and to live off the land.  No, you are fond of being one of the trend setters, one of the people in the know, so you’re more comfortable in a thriving community.

As you celebrate your birthday month, hold your head high, walk joyfully into the days ahead and let your considerable light beam into the lives of others.  The stars will come out to applaud your day.  Shine on and have a Happy Birthday!

Your September Birthday  A Star Is Born!Your September Birthday  A Star Is Born!Your September Birthday  A Star Is Born!Your September Birthday  A Star Is Born!Your September Birthday  A Star Is Born!Your September Birthday  A Star Is Born!