Word a Week: Orange

Sue of  ‘A Word in Your Ear’ has given us a challenge to show some orange photos. Orange isn’t one of my favourite colours, probably because I don’t look good in it, but I was surprised to find quite a few oranges in my photo library.

This Vervet monkey just up the road, knows that oranges are really good for him.

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In Florida, I spotted enough oranges to fill your vitamin C needs for weeks.

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Then of course, there are always many pumpkins knocking around at Halloween,

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as well as some other scary orange stuff which I encountered in New Jersey.

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Let’s rather go to Jamaica and dine on some delicious lobster,

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or would you prefer a slice of Ecuadorian Guinea Pig? I’m pretty sure you’re so horrified that you might have missed the orange bricks. 🙂

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Maybe you’d prefer to skip lunch and use your money to buy a lovely piece of hand-woven orange fabric.

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Bangkok also seems to favour the colour orange for its temples and shrines,

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as well as boat trims.

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At the end of the day, I suppose I’ll just have to admit that orange isn’t a bad colour after all. 🙂

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To see more orange contributions to Sue’s theme, just click here.

Why pumpkins for Halloween? & The legend of Stingy Jack.

Good morning everyone. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, tonight is Halloween. I was just watching CNN news, and Mayor Bloomberg has announced that the Halloween parade in New York may be rescheduled for next week, as the city is in quite a mess at the moment after Hurricane Sandy created absolute havoc there.

Have you ever wondered  how pumpkins came to be associated with this festival? I was interested to see that for the past week, one of the local churches just down the road from where we live, have been holding a pumpkin sale in their car park. Most Christians these days regard Halloween as having no negative significance to their beliefs, although yesterday, hubby got an e-mail from an overly pious acquaintance in South Africa, suggesting that maybe the hurricane was God’s way of showing his disapproval of the fact that Halloween is celebrated here in such a big way. 😆 What a ridiculous suggestion! The e-mail was deleted. It doesn’t deserve to be dignified with a reply……. of any sort.

Halloween is just a fun festival, mainly for the kids to dress up and go round the houses getting candy from the neighbours. I’ve noticed in the stores here, that the shelves which were full of Halloween costumes, scary masks and treat-baskets, are looking very depleted. It’s a really big thing here, much more so than in South Africa. There are pumpkins just about everywhere you look.

Halloween was originally the Festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-wen), the holiest day of the year for the ancient Celts, who lived long before recorded history. This celebration was held to honour the souls of the dead, who it was believed were at this time, able to mingle with the living before they travelled into the ‘otherworld’. At the end of summer, the Celts also gave thanks for the harvest, and the 31st October marked the start of their New Year. They only had two seasons, summer and winter. When Ireland was converted to Christianity, the priests allowed the Irish to continue to celebrate their festival for a few hundred years, before the Catholic church tried unsuccessfully to ban it. The Catholics demonised everything about the old religions, which is why even today, Halloween is often considered by some people to be evil.

When many of the Irish migrated to America during the potato famine, which killed over a million people between 1845 and 1851 in Ireland, they brought their festival with them. Americans embraced it, and it has gradually become the fun occasion that it is today, with children going around the neighbourhood, trick or treating. Costumes depicting witches, ghosts and skeletons are the most popular. Children do seem to love the most gruesome, don’t they? 😯

It has long been tradition to carve out scary faces, first on turnips, and then more recently, on pumpkins, as they are bigger and much easier to carve. The Irish used to place candles and lighted embers inside these, to keep “Stingy Jack” away from their homes. This is why they were called Jack O’Lanterns.”

There is a legend which says that hundreds of years ago, there lived in Ireland a very clever but  lazy and miserable drunkard by the name of ‘Stingy Jack’. He never did any work, and spent his days drinking beer and playing mean tricks on everyone, including his poor old mother. One Halloween, it came time for Jack to die, and the devil arrived to take his soul, but Jack being so clever, managed to trick him, and gained an extra two years of life. The third year, Jack did actually die, and because he was so bad, he was of course refused entrance into Heaven. The devil saw his chance of revenge for being tricked by Jack, and refused to allow him into Hell either. “Where can I go?” cried Jack. He couldn’t see anything in the darkness between Heaven and Hell, so the Devil threw him an ember from the flames of Hell, which Jack put inside a hollowed-out turnip, which he conveniently happened to have with him. 😉 He uses this lantern to light his path as he wanders around in the darkness for all eternity.

So now you know, where the pumpkins fit in with Halloween, and I certainly hope you’ve bought candy, just in case you get a visit from those mischievous trick-or-treaters, or you might just end up with egg splattered all over your awning, as we did one year when we weren’t home to answer their call.

Have your candy ready tonight, and have a great Halloween.

(All pics from Google)

Whooo……..Spooky

Ailsa has requested ‘Spooky’ posts for her travel theme this week, and I think I can oblige and probably scare the pants off you all. Actually, that thought is also quite scary. 😆

In South Africa, Halloween has never been a big thing, but a couple of years ago, we happened to be in New Jersey at our son’s house. I was amazed to see how people had really gone to town, decorating their porches and gardens. Some of them were ghoulish in the extreme, and very spooky indeed.

We were invited to a friend’s house, from where the children were going out “trick or treating.” The house was in almost total darkness when we arrived, and I could make out the shapes of black mice and spiders on the staircase.

My granddaughter Sienna was only four at the time, and so excited to go out with her bigger friends, collecting candy, but granddad soon had to bring her back to the house, because she was too scared to go up the garden paths, and can you blame her?

The older kids had done this before, and weren’t at all phased by the horrors they saw. The promise of sweeties was so much stronger than fear.

They did really well, and soon filled up their baskets. Sienna got her share when they arrived back with their booty, and we all had a great party.

Now for something completely different, and unrelated to Halloween. The eeriest place I’ve ever been in, was at Graceland. Walking around the late Elvis’s home, we suddenly found ourselves out of the bright lights of his ‘Hall of Fame’, as we stepped into these very dimly lit rooms. I think this was his bedroom,

and sitting room. All the blinds were closed, and in the very subdued lighting, and with his music softly playing, I could almost imagine that his ghost was in there with me. It really gave me goosebumps.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my spooky pics. If you’re feeling brave, and want to see more entries for the challenge, just head over to Ailsa’s post.

On display in Florida.

Ailsa’s travel theme, “On Display,” was still in my mind, when we went out and about yesterday. I had been busy unpacking our cases for most of the morning, trying to find space for all the ‘stuff’ we’d carted with us. One of the items, was a little Lladro fairy bell, which is the other half of a pair. I’d brought the boy pixie over the last time we came, and he’s had to wait six months to see his girlfriend again, as I only had one custom-made box to put him in. Anyway, they’re reunited at last, on display in my bedroom, so I can stop feeling guilty. 🙂

On our travels, we stopped in at ‘Whole Foods’ to get some groceries. Love this store, as everything looks so fresh and healthy.

One thing I really enjoy about being here, is that I can buy fresh berries all the time, and in nice big boxes, too. This is something I really miss when we go back to South Africa, as we don’t get many blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, and when we do, they’re in tiny little 125g packs, which are eaten in no time at all.

Outside, was a very cute pumpkin display for Halloween.

Home Depot was our next stop, to look for ideas for our kitchen revamp. A really helpful lady by the name of Jamesetta, gave us loads of literature, and arranged for someone to visit next week to discuss the design. I’m very excited about this, as it will mean all new appliances, and it will be great to have an oven that actually works. 🙂 The one that came with the house, is original, and I think the thermostat stopped functioning years ago, which makes it impossible for me to even bake one of my cheesecakes. 😦

On the way out, we went to have a look for an orchid, but although there were a myriad to choose from,

We didn’t buy one, as they were all fully in flower, and I prefer buds which will come out over time.

Also on display were these gorgeous little red cacti.

On the drive home, the sky displayed signs of imminent rain, which we had overnight, together with thunder and lightning.

One of our neighbours told us that it has rained every day since we left here in April. No wonder the grass is so green.

Today we have to drop off the rental car at Palm Beach International airport, which means that I have to follow on behind in our car. This will be my first time driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road since we arrived. Wish me luck, 🙂

To see more “on display” posts, just click here.