Thursday, March 25, 2010

praying for Europe

(notice the video's length... 4 min and 44 seconds...)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


"When God plants the seed of his word in your life he is not asking you to make it happen as soon as possible. He is asking you to have faith." - Matt Helmsley, associate pastor of my church on Sunday.

Germination of 2000-year-old seeds

In the 1970s, during excavations at Herod the Great's palace on Masada in Israel, two thousand year old Judean date palm seeds were recovered. The cache of seeds was found contained in an ancient jar, and had experienced a very dry, sheltered environment, which helped to preserve the seeds. Radiocarbon dating at theUniversity of Zurich confirmed the age of the seeds at 2000 ±50 years. After their discovery the seeds were held in storage for thirty years at Bar-Ilan University.

On 25 January 2005, the Jewish festival of Tu Bishvat (Arbor Day), Dr. Elaine Solowey, a specialist in rare and medicinal plants at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies pretreated several of the seeds in a fertilizer and hormone-rich solution. She then planted three of the seeds at Kibbutz Ketura in the Arabah desert of southern Israel.[1] One of the seeds sprouted six weeks later. As of June 2008, the tree has nearly a dozen fronds, and is nearly 1.4 m (4 ft) tall.

The plant has been nicknamed "Methuselah," after the longest-lived person in the Bible. Methuselah is remarkable in being the oldest known tree seed successfully germinated, and also in being the only living representative of the Judean date palm, a tree extinct for over 1800 years, which was once a major food and export crop in ancient Judea.

Date palm trees are dioecious. If Methuselah is female, it may produce fruit by 2010. Methuselah's seeds could then be used to cultivate additional Date palm trees.

When compared with three other cultivars of date palm, genetic tests showed the plant to be most closely related to the old Egyptian variety Hayany (also Hiani, Hayani), 13% of its DNA being different.[3] They may have shared the same wild ancestor.

In addition to its honoured place in Judean history, the palm may contribute useful characteristics such as environmental tolerance and disease resistance, to modern date cultivars.

Dr. Sarah Sallon, the head of the project, wants to see if the ancient tree has any unique medicinal properties no longer found in today's date palm varieties. “The Judean date was used for all kinds of things from fertility, to aphrodisiacs, against infections, against tumors,” she said. “This is all part of the folk story.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

an european lent

(That is technically correct, but it sounds so awkward on my tongue I would probably always say "a European" and just be okay with being incorrect.)

Anyway, this Lenten season instead of giving something up I've been taking something on. I've been praying my way through the countries of Europe. Slightly haphazardly I read a bit about at least one country every morning and then pray for it during the day. I say haphazardly because there are more countries in Europe then days in Lent. Also, I realized several days in that the list I was going by hasn't been updated since 2003 and there have been new countries born since then. But all the technical difficulties aside I have been enjoying this!

Coincidentally (and by that I really mean providentially) I've just happened to be reading Neither Here nor There (travels in Europe) by Bill Bryson. So not only have I had a bit of history and prayer points for each country, I've also had a personal account of travels through a lot of them. (And of course it doesn't hurt that Bill is just so darn funny!) Now his journey was in the early 90s so the list of countries is even more outdated than the list I was going from. For instance I'm currently reading the chapter on Yugoslavia.

Speaking of which I wanted to share this hilarious excerpt from the beginning of that chapter, one of many that has made me laugh out loud:

"The lady led me down a complicated series of steps and sunny alleyways, full of scrawny cats. It was the sort of route you would follow if you were trying to give someone the slip. It wouldn't have altogether surprised me if she had asked me to put on a blindfold. Eventually, we crossed a plank over a narrow ditch, made out way across a grassless yard, and entered a four-story building that looked only half-finished. A cement mixer was standing by the stairwell. I was beginning to have my doubts. This was just the place for an ambush. 'Come,' she said and I followed her up the stairs to the top floor and into her apartment. It was small and plainly furnished, but spotless and airy. Two men in their twenties, both vaguely thuggish-looking, dressed in t-shirts were sitting at the table in the kitchen/living room. 'Uh-oh,' I thought, casually sliding my hand into my pocket and fingering my Swiss army knife, but knowing that even in ideal circumstances it takes me twenty minutes to identify a blade and prize it out. If these guys came at me, I would end up defending myself with a toothpick and tweezers."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

i did mention that i'm l-o-v-ing knitting right?

Yesterday in the mail I received two happy packages. One was an ebay purchase and contained a NeedleMaster and a CrochetMaster purchased at a fraction of the cost even on Amazon.
The second was an etsy purchase and contained a lovely case for the knitting needles made by Claire at needlebook. I couldn't have gotten this without the other, but it made the other so much more satisfying! (And it was way prettier.)

And it had pretty extras...

See the ugly, pretend leather case it came in...
Ah, that's better!

Now I just need something pretty for the crochet hooks... but I guess that can wait until I learn how to crochet. It was only a few dollars more to get a lot of both than to just get the knitting set. And I figured a whole set of hooks was the perfect inspiration to take that up at some point as well!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

a sort of kind of update

These are things I'm bad at doing when I live in the States and have a full time job: keeping up with all my friends who live here, there, and everywhere (and I mean that quite literally) and blogging. Also exercising, not eating too much sugar, and getting enough sleep. I'm sorry, I keep trying to be better about these things, and keep trying, and keep trying.

Anyway, here's a little update on the last few weeks:

* I think I mentioned that I've taken up knitting since being home. I L-O-V-E it! I've ordered a Boye Needle Master kit on ebay and it should arrive sometime next week. This is an interchangeable circular needle set which means I have (virtually) everything I could ever need to make anything I could ever want. (yeah!) And I finished my first project, a baby blanket for my soon-to-be-born nephew, Will. Here it is:

Incidentally, the bed spread it's laid out on was made by my grandmother. I couldn't post pictures of it before in case my sister read my blog and the surprise was spoiled.

*I love, love, LOVED the Olympics. Everything except I was a little disappointed by the closing ceremonies. But the opening ones were great! The competitions were great. The rivalries, the records set, the North American's showing in the medal counts. I really sort of wish that when I was young and we discovered that my ankles weren't strong enough to jump that I wouldn't have given up figure skating entirely, but would have switched to ice dancing...

* Had a baby shower for my sister yesterday. So much fun, and she got lots of great gifts! (Hence me being able to post pictures of the blanket.)

*Loving LOST, Grey's, and The Office these days. Had such a busy week that I missed each of them and just finished catching up. Only 10 more episodes of LOST. Pam and Jim have their baby. Andy finally asked Erin out! And Grey's feels like the good old days, with a healthy, happy Meredith which I like!

* Dreaming and wishing for Belfast... can't wait for the end of the summer.

* Plotting and planning and hoping for a trip to Iowa, Chicago, and Michigan in May/June... Watch this space.

*Went to see Young Victoria today with my sis, enjoyed it! Everyone else in the theatre was over 50 and the comments we overheard were hilarious. Best one right as the credits rolled: "Now that is a love story."

*Favorite quote from the baby episode of The Office: "You've gotta let the cookies cool before you pop them in your mouth." -Michael as Kevin leans in for a kiss (from Erin).

*Didn't realize The Last Station was out already, gotta see it! It's about the last few years of Tolstoy's life as this year marks the 100th anniversary of his death.

Guess that's all the big stuff. Wedding in 27 days, baby a few weeks after that!