newsandviewsjb

NEWS&VIEWS by Jacqueline Bennett

The Beauty of Dried Flowers

Posted on March 5, 2019

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The beauty of dried flowers

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

The beauty of dried flowers is not only intrinsic in their visual appeal but exists through their longevity and versatility. The photo I snapped, seen to the right, is one of my favorite dried flower arrangements. Perhaps because it spotlights a vintage jug which belonged to my mother. I adore the unexpected simplicity of the arrangement and the natural colors. I am quite certain I will keep this arrangement with me forever.

 

A discernible secret revealed  ~ in some cases dried flowers can last “forever.” At least they can last for many, many years. Keep them so long as they are still “seen” and enjoyed, suggest online sources.

 

To some degree beautiful floral/dried flower design is the result of a knack. However, it is also taught even at the university level. My Alma Mater, the University of Connecticut offers a course called “Floral Art” through the horticulture department indicative of the importance of this kind of beauty to our surroundings. 

 

Seven commonly cited elements of floral design are : *proportion *scale *harmony *rhythm *balance *unity *emphasis.

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Mixing arrangements of dried flowers with live flowers or placing them nearby in freestanding vases is a technique I sometimes use. In the photo to the left I mixed pussy willows with dark brown lotus pod stems and placed plants stems in separate vases.

 

Pressing flowers is a popular DIY project to create dried flowers used as bookmarks, potpourri, drawer fragrance or bath salts. However, lovely bunches of dried flowers for display can be found in craft stores, such as A.C. Moore and Joanne’s. 

Fresh Snowfall Belies Chuckles’ Early Spring Prediction

Posted on February 21, 2019

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My Potter’s Bench awaiting the early arrival of spring – ha! Photo by Jacqueline Bennett

 

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewjb.com

 

A fresh late February snowfall is not unusual in New England, however, on Ground Hog Day 2019 both Punxsutawney Phil, and Chuckles at the Lutz Chidren’s Museum here in Connecticut promised us an early spring. So what pray tell is this new white stuff all about?

 

Despite the century-old tradition of turning to a groundhog for a long-term weather report, these a.k.a. woodchucks that are of the marmot species – basically, large squirrels., have been accurate only 40 percent of the time, according to a CNN report. Nonetheless, thousands of spectators continue to turn out annually to witness the sleepy animal’s forecast in Punxsutawney, PA. In Manchester, CT, home to the Lutz and the state’s official groundhog, the mayor and other local dignitaries were present for the prediction.

 

How did it come to pass that a big ole squirrel is thought to hold the answer which certified meteorlogists are paid to know? The phenomenon is said to date back to ancient Christian times when people brought candles to services for winter blessings and somehow it evolved to include animals., says CNN.

 

No shadows were seen by Punxsutawney Phil or Chuckles meaning bye, bye winter. Only in theory this year, as across the country bitter cold and heavy snowstorms have been the trend. Another four to six inches of snow fell this morning for us with an icy mix. Warmer temperatures are expected by tomorrow, into the low 50s, likely to result in melting. Still, I wouldn’t pack away the wool sweaters and mittens yet ~ it appears the earliest spring will arrive in the Northern Hemisphere is, as the calendar states, March 20th.

Mindfulness, Stretch, Walk For Your Health

Posted on February 10, 2019

Be Mindful - Brew A Cup of Tea.

Photo by Jacqueline Bennett Dog Lane Cafe Storrs, Ct ~ Brew a cup of tea for mindfulness

 

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Mindfulness is the new trend but what does it mean? Essentially it is about staying in the moment. Focus on simple tasks and send out positive energy to calm the mind rather than letting your thoughts race in a zillion different directions ~ which can be mentally and emotionally taxing.

 

Practicing mindfulness can be as simple as brewing a cup of tea says healthline.com. Focus on each step of the process along the way ~ thus allowing the mind to take a mental break.

 

A couple more simple suggestions offered for practicing mindfulness, wish someone happiness and pause to look up at the stars. Wishing someone happiness is a philosophy said to have been promoted by Chade Meng Tan  ~ “Throughout the day, randomly wish for someone to be happy.” This might be someone you love, someone you are worried about, someone from the past, anyone.

 

Looking upward is another way to practice mindfulness. Headed for work ~ pause and look up, at the computer ~ pause and look up, taking out the trash ~ pause and look up, walking the dog ~ paws (ha!) and look up at the sky or the stars.

 

Bringing a moment of peace to your life on a daily basis may well have a cumulative effect. Certainly it cannot hurt to give mindfulness a try.

 

Stretching notes healthline.com can have multiple benefits. Done on a regular basis, stretching can increase flexibility and range of motion which can enhance your ability to do other physical activities. (Easy stretching is my preference.)

 

Stretching can also help to heal and prevent pain by increasing blood flow to the muscles thus reducing muscle soreness and making recovery easier. It can help improve posture by encouraging proper muscular skeletal alignment. Tight muscles it was pointed out as well, can result in strain, even headaches. To be beneficial stretching needs to be done in proper form, information which is available online.

 

Of course, walking remains one of the best activities for the health conscious. What better time to add some steps to your day than in February, the American Heart Association’s Heart Health Month. As I have stated in previous posts ~ walk until your heart is content!

 

Why not stretch a bit before and after walking & bring mindfulness to your movements? A happy  health ‘hattrick’.

 

**Always check with a physician before starting any new exercise.

Arctic Blast Crosses Connecticut

Posted on January 31, 2019

Squalls created near and total whiteouts on January 30 in CT, worse than these snowy conditions seen here from years past.

 

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

An Arctic blast has sweep Connectcut with temperatures expected to drop to 24 degrees below zero in parts of the state this morning, January 31. Residents who need to go outside, are being warned to take precautions ~ covering the skin which can freeze quickly in such extreme cold.

 

Last evening intense snow squalls created near and total white-out conditions, accompanied by whipping winds leaving zero visibility along the way. The squalls arrived in the Greater Hartford area between 5:30-6 p.m. creating a blizzard-like effect. They lasted only minutes as they passed through, followed by calm. 

 

Anyone who has ever been caught in a snow squall knows it can be scary. Squalls come on fast as heavy snow whirls at a rapid speed making visibility nearly impossible. Fortunately weather reports were on the nose in predicting the oncoming squalls for yesterday giving CT residents time to prepare here.

 

Meanwhile, in Penn and New York multi vehicle pile-ups and injuries were reported. Severe cold is consuming a wide band of regions across the United States. The polar vortex has brought even more extreme sub-zero temperatures to the Mid-West, 60 degrees below in places. The Super Bowl is slated for February 3 in Atlanta, Georgia, where a cold snap has also hit.

Toss Kindness Like Confetti ~ How to Succeed With New Year’s Resolutions

Posted on January 7, 2019

 

 

Live in the moment ~ appreciate the here & now ~ the beauty around you.. Photos by Jacqueline Bennett

 

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

There is something about the start of a new year that feels as if it comes with a new lease on life  ~ the perfect time to resolve to change bad habits, accomplish goals and generally make life improvements. The fact that New Year’s resolutions are talked and written about extensively is an indicator that change/self-improvement is important to many people.

 

Yet it is no secret that it is common to fall short of that resolve. Experts say the best way to stay on track is to keep it simple.

 

Here are a few tips from the American Psychological Association to help meet success with resolutions:

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  •  Start small ~ make resolutions that you can keep. For example – rather than overhauling your entire menu, strive to eat more vegetables and fewer sweets.

    Eat more vegetables 

  • Be more active

    Change one behavior at a time. It is amazing what a difference one small change can make ~ not necessarily aiming to run a marathon but instead resolve to walk at least 10 minutes every day or simply to be more active, move about more in your space. One small change can have a rippling effect on a journey to bigger changes.

  • Don’t beat yourself up over a misstep. Perfection is unattainable notes the APA. Do not give up if you go off track ~ keep going.
  • Talk about your resolutions and ask for support – these ideas are both recommended by the APA, such as support groups. I believe that needs to be a personal decision. Some people do better with quiet resolve. If you finally sign up for that yoga class, you have the option of discussing your self-improvement objective, or keeping it to yourself.

“It is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important.” ~ APA. The APA adds if you feel professional advise might help – seek it.

 

Remember, change does not always come easily. It can be hard work to choose an apple for a snack not a cookie or to hold your tongue in a situation where previously you would have verbalized a zinger.

 

May I suggest a resolution ~ live more in the moment. Appreciate the here and now, the happiness that comes from living each day and appreciation of the people in your life.

 

Resolutions, I believe, are more palatable to the soul when they include doing something for others, as well as yourself. Along with whatever else you have in mind to improve your life in the new year, how about adding a resolution to “toss kindness like confetti” ? Just one act of kindness from each of us, each day, has the power to improve the world around us, and thus improve our own lives.

Holiday Lights Have Long Tradition

Posted on December 20, 2018

Holiday Light display extravaganza continues in the 2018 season at 130 Felt Road, South Windsor, CT photo by Jacqueline Bennett

 

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

It is not uncommon these days for each community to have at least one private home with an extravaganza of holidays lights. According to Smithsonian.com, as of 2017 a private citizen had put up a record 601,736 bulbs. Here in Connecticut, one of the most elaborate displays of holiday lights can be found at the home of Thomas Delnicki at 130 Felt Road in South Windsor.

 

An array of characters from Charlie Brown & company and much, much more clad in seasonal wear, are also spread out across his lawn. It is a gradual process that gets underway nearly two months before Christmas until the time comes to flip on the lights !

 

Where did the tradition of holiday lights begin? It dates back to a time when trees were decorated with candles to symbolize “Christ being the light of the world.” In modern Germany the trees were brought inside homes. In the United States, in 1856 President Franklin Pierce put a Christmas Tree up in the White House. However, nearly forty years passed before the White House Christmas Tree, put up by President Grover Cleveland, was lit by electric bulbs rather than candles.

 

The history of electric light bulbs for Christmas trees followed the scientific advancements of American inventor Thomas Edison. Colored light bulbs came after white lights adoring trees. By the 1870’s Smithsonian.com reports, Christmas Trees were being sold in Washington Square and pretty ornaments could be purchased at Macy’s Department Store.

Pearl Harbor Day follows George H.W. Bush Farewell ~ Homage to Greatest Generation

Posted on December 7, 2018

“Uncle Bunker” Major Oliver Generous USAF WWII fighter pilot

USS Arizona shown on December 7, 1941 when the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy ~wikipedia..

Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

I doubt that they ever met, yet each were young men from Connecticut who set out on the same path – to save the world from tyranny. Former President George H.W. Bush came from a wealthy family in Greenwich, on Connecticut’s “Gold Coast.” My uncle, Major Oliver Generous USAF ~ “Uncle Bunker”, came from a family of modest means in North Windham, CT’s “Quiet Corner.”

 

Both, however, had much in common. Their lives were significantly impacted by the December 7, 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial Navy ~ which led to the entrance of the United States into World War II. They were raised by families dedicated to the principles of decency and integrity, American democracy, the tenets of freedom and liberty. They both became W.W. II fighter pilots – Pres. Bush a naval aviator, Uncle Bunker, Army-Air Force. Both put country before self. Both were part of what has become known as “The Greatest Generation” ~ the generation that saved the world from the tyranny of German dictator Adolf Hitler and the Axis powers of Italy and Japan.

 

It seems quite fitting that the funeral services for Pres. Bush, in Washington D.C. and then in Houston, Texas where he moved his family, immediately preceded the Dec. 7 anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. Pres. Bush also served as vice-president of the U.S., an ambassador to China, head of the CIA and in Congress. First though, he was a young American military aviator, a W.W. II fighter pilot who survived being shot down and went on to fly multiple combat missions. Laid to rest at the Bush Presidential Library in Texas next to his beloved wife Barbara, and Robin, the daughter they lost to leukemia at age 3, Pres. Bush is said to have requested a simple marker with his Naval number on it.

 

Uncle Bunker rose in the U.S. Air Force ranks, reaching the rank of major. He was stationed on Cape Cod where he kept watch over the safety of the Atlantic seaboard. Subsequent to his combat missions, he flew cover for the Berlin Airlift and later he continued to put service first volunteering for risky assignments, testing experimental aircraft. He died in service to the nation during one of those tests and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

 

We are losing our W.W.II veterans to the inevitability of aging and death. They, who as young men, stormed the beaches of Normandy and liberated concentration camps. Perhaps it is because we have a family connection to those who served in W.W. II, perhaps it is because both Pres. Bush and Uncle Bunker served as fighter pilots, but watching the farewell to the former president ~ I felt it ~ these goodbyes were more than an honor for a strong leader known as a “gentleman” on the world stage. They were a symbolic final homage to that generation, a generation that exemplified the best of the American spirit, who stood together to fight for what was right. We bid you adieu Greatest Generation with our sincere gratitude.