Saturday, August 08, 2009


This write up started when I logged on today and read a conversation among the E2religion group. The question being asked was Can sanctuary be refused? We do have some great conversations in the religious group, sometimes heated, but mostly good natured and frequently humorous. It helps me to better define my own ideas about a variety of subjects that I consider important to my life. Many times as a lay person these interesting questions that are posed are more complicated than they appear and above my head as far theology goes and so I am left searching for an answer or well; at least a definition or history of the ideas and thoughts behind this particular ideologies. So I went off in search of meaning and insight through memories, across the World Wide Web, in the encyclopedia and the Oxford Companion Bible and here are the results.

My first introduction the idea of sanctuary was from the 1939's film based upon Victor Hugo novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Charles Laughton as a poor disfigured soul whose only means of eking out a sustenance in the society to which he was born disfigured into, was to ring the church bells for a French place of worship. The first time I saw it my thoughts were struck dumb at the depth of his compassion as I watched Quasimodo, save Esmeralda from the law, and almost unintelligible cry for "Sanctuary!" as he carried her to safety inside the cathedral of Notre Dame. It is one of the finest examples of literature put to film.

Victor-Marie Hugo (1802-1885) long regarded in France as one of that country's greatest poets, is better known abroad for his novels Les Miserables and Notre-Dame de Paris or the English translation, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831). Hugo deliberately chose his setting for the story as an evocation of life in medieval Paris during the reign of Louis XI. While Notre-Dame was being written, Louis-Philippe, a constitutional king, had been brought to power by the July Revolution. The novel condemned the royalist society, in the persons of Frollo the archdeacon and Phoebus the soldier, heaps misery on the hunchback Quasimodo and the gypsy girl Esmeralda. The theme and social commentary touched the public consciousness deeply at the time.

Today sanctuary is a noun that has come to mean a place sought out by for political refugees to. To be hospitable or to take one in is said to be providing sanctuary. It's also a sacred place, such as a church, temple, or mosque, or the holiest part of a sacred place. A sanctuary has become synonymous with sacrarium, the part of a Christian church around the altar. And a refuge or shelter for wildlife where predators are controlled and hunting is illegal.

A sanctuary as a consecrated, or sacred place began early in the 4th Century. The root of the word is derived from Anglo-French sentuarie, from Old French sainctuarie, from Late Latin. sanctuarium meaning, "a sacred place, shrine." from Latin sanctus. .

In ancient times the Hebrews had cities of refuge open to those who committed unpremeditated murder. In Egypt, the temples dedicated to Osiris and Amon served this purpose, and in Greece all temples offered sanctuary. One of the oldest known European sanctuaries is the Bronze Age Stonehenge. Initiated during the Neolithic era it was remade several times, finally completed about 1400 BC. Older than Stonehenge is a peninsula lined with numerous megalithic tombs in the area near Brittany France called Carnac that has been established as a hub of ritualistic activity by archaeologist dating as far back as the 5th and 3rd millennia BC.

A sanctuary of Zeus, Olympia established in 1000 BC was the venue of the Olympic Games. One of the most important religious sanctuaries of the ancient Greek world was Delphi. The principal sanctuary and oracle of Apollo this sacred enclosure remains today an impressive sight where it is located on Mount Parnassus above the Gulf of Corinth. In 632 BC Megacles an Alcmaeonid desecrated the sanctuary of Athena by having a political opponent treacherously murdered there. The oracle of Delphi placed a hereditary curse on the family, banishing them from Athens. During the 4th century In the ancient Greek city of Epidauros was the sanctuary of Asclepius, patients who slept in the temple were visited by the god in their dreams and treated by his priests next morning; thankful inscriptions confirm many cures. As traditional beliefs declined after the 4th century BC the oracle lost influence and the Christian Emperor Theodosius closed many sanctuaries like Olympus and Delphi.

Portable sanctuary or "tent of meeting" was employed by the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 25-31, 33, 35-40). Sanctuary can also be thought of more specifically as the Hebrew Holy of Holies or the ancient Hebrew temple at Jerusalem. The Holiest of Holies expression is a translation of the Hebrew term for the sanctuary inside the tabernacle of the Temple of Jerusalem, where the sacred Ark of the Covenant was kept. Shiloh was the traditional sanctuary of the Ark until the Philistines destroyed the city and captured the Ark in the mid-11th century BC. The earliest site of importance in biblical times is Bethel or the Hebrew 'house of God'. A town north of Jerusalem where Abraham first pitched his tent and built an altar, it's also the same site where Jacob experienced the revelation from God, it became for a time the primary sanctuary of the Israelite tribes.

The right of sanctuary has been practiced throughout the ages. Sacred places that give refuge and inviolable asylum or protection afforded by entering such a places were formerly acknowledged as refuges for criminals or fugitives. After the introduction of Christianity fugitives were able to claim sanctuary in any church or churchyard and later also in certain other places, like Whitefriars in London. After 40 days they were obliged to swear abjuration of the realm. This means the person seeking the 'right of sanctuary' had to confess to his or her transgression before promising to renounce England and could only return following a royal pardon.

Immunity from law attached to a sanctuary was first recognized as the right of sanctuary in Christian abbeys and churches in the 4th century. One of the most infamous characters from history to seek sanctuary as political refuge was the Frankish queen Fredgund. Gregory of Tours in his Historia Froncorum enhanced her reputation as an indomitable, ingenious and atrociously cruel woman:

    While working as a servant, she became the mistress of Chilperic I, the Merovingian King, and influenced him to reject his wife, Audovera, and then to murder his second wife, Galswintha, in 568. She then became his wife. The hatred of Brunhilda, Galswintha's sister and the wife of King Sigebert, and Fredegund for each other led to almost 40 years of war between their two Frankish kingdoms of Neustria and Austrasia. In the course of the war Fredegund engineered the deaths of Sigebert and of her own step-children, Audovera's sons, one of whom she accused of killing her own three sons who had died of the plague.

    When Chilperic was murdered, in mysterious circumstances, in 584, Fredegund seized his wealth and fled to sanctuary in Paris with her remaining son Lothair II. She persuaded the nobles to accept him as legitimate heir, and acted as Regent, continuing her power struggles first with the kings of Burgundy, Guntram (561-92) and Childebert II (593-5), and then with Brunhilda again, who supported her own grandsons' claim to the throne. In 597 she finally defeated her old opponent but died in Paris a few months later. (The Macmillan Dictionary of Women's Biography, © Jennifer S. Uglow 1999)

Some famous and not so famous stories of political sanctuary in England. Around 1378 two squires Robert Hawley and John Shakell escaped from the Tower of London and took sanctuary in Westminster Abbey, but Hawley was murdered by the constable of the Tower on the altar steps.

Another personality to seek immunity from arrest was the Queen consort of Edward IV,Elizabeth Woodville. She secretly wed Edward IV in 1464 and was crowned the following year. The influence she used in securing favors for her family connections made her enemies and following Edward's death she also sought sanctuary at Westminster Abbey.

English Quaker, founder of Pennsylvania. William Penn was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1668 for writing in defense of Quaker practices. Acquitted in 1670, he was granted a charter to land in North America by Charles II and used it to establish the colony of Pennsylvania as a sanctuary for Quakers and other Nonconformists.

Sanctuaries as charitable relief was supplied by almshouses that were supplemented by a series of poor laws during the 16th century. Clergymen established most medieval foundations and originally it was in sections of medieval monasteries in which alms, or food and money, were distributed.

Often abused sanctuary was abolished in Britain with respect to criminal cases sometime between 1623 and 1625 in civil cases by 1722. By the time Victor Hugo was born in 1802 it had ceased to exist in most other countries, but was it was still fresh in the minds of his audience of when his book was published in the early 18th century.

So can sanctuary be refused? I don't know, but I'm a little closer to understanding what it has meant throughout the ages.



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Friday, August 07, 2009


Mainly I suppose that autumn begins here in the desert around the middle of August. Hardly anyone believes me when I say that sometime around the middle of that month there is a subtle, barely discernible change in the nighttime temperatures. A centimeter of movement on the thermometer that prods me to get out blankets for a good airing in preparation. This is the harbinger of fall and while it may be two-thirds wishful thinking, it nevertheless manages to sustain me while the summer musters its dwindling battalion of one hundred degree days for a final assault. Then with a suddenness that is almost alarming it's fall in the desert and this moment escapes many of those who do not dwell here year round.

I can almost hear the hushed sound of an osprey feather as a light breeze guides it through a maze of ocotillo branches and lays it softly on the ground. Autumn in the Sonoran desert is an acquired taste. Colors splash through canyons. Foliage is fruiting, including barrel cacti, soapberry trees, desert hackberries, and wolfberries. Broom flowers are a favorite of hundreds of butterflies, bees, wasps, and beetles. One can walk through creosote flats and suddenly come upon a flash of cottonwoods or sycamores along dry riverbeds; oranges and bright yellows in landscapes that are otherwise muted.

In other parts of the world autumn is celebrated with the Goose Fair of Nottingham, England. The three-day Fair begins on the first Thursday of October and with the exception of 1665 when the Great Plague was at its worst, and the two world wars. It has reportedly been held each year since 1284 and it's here that lays one of several linguistic links between the words goose and gossamer. Saint Luke's Day is October 8th and the British sometimes refer to this as Saint Luke's summer. It was likely that the English would call this stretch of weather goose summer. since this late-year warm spell usually overlaps the prime season for eating geese. Even though the original meaning has vanished from English, it remains in German, where November was known as Gansemonat, literally, "Goose-month."

Other experts believe it's derived from "spider threads spun in fields of stubble in late fall, either because of a fancied resemblance to down, or because geese are in season then." By the fourteenth century, gossamer was being used to refer to the film of cobwebs that frequently drift in the warm autumn air and get caught in grass or bushes. That sense gave origins to today's noun gossamer.

The Webster's 1828 Dictionary defined it as "a fine filmy substance, like cobwebs, floating in the air, in calm clear weather, especially in autumn. It is seen in stubble fields and on furz or low bushes, and is probably formed by a species of spider." The adjective usage of the word has been added since then. Today's Merriam-Webster's Dictionary calls gossamer: "a film of cobwebs floating in air in calm clear weather" and " something light, delicate, or insubstantial "

As an adjective gossamer first materialized in print around the turn of the nineteenth century. It carries several senses: filmy, sheer, light, delicate, or tenuous and has been on many occasions waxed poetic over. Edgar Allan Poe favored it so much he used it in three of his well-known works. The Black Cat, The Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum:

    Else there is no immortality for man. Arousing from the most profound of slumbers, we break the gossamer web of some dream. Yet in a second afterward, (so frail may that web have been) we remember not that we have dreamed.
Emily Dickinson was fond of using it too:

Other still wonder if it comes from goose summer and "gaze à Marie" citing two sources that explain the idea that the fine film of cobwebs seen floating in the air in the fall is named after the custom of eating goose on November 11 for St. Martin's Day. However this is questionable since November is a long way off from summer. In Forgotten English, a 366-day Calendar of Vanishing Vocabulary author Jeffrey Kacirk asserts that "the gauzy, airborne material, or 'gaze à Marie,' was for centuries believed to be the remnants of the Virgin Mary's winding sheet, which fell as she drifted into Heaven."

To which another experts counters:

    I'd never heard the "gaze à Marie" story, but even if Mr. Kacirk is correct and people have believed it for centuries, it still isn't the origin of "gossamer." The dictionaries are right: "gossamer," meaning "a fine, filmy substance," comes directly from "goose summer," an unusually warm period, similar to our "Indian summer," often occurring in mid-November. This is the same time of year when spiders are wont to spread their delicate webs across lawns and bushes and when St. Martin's day is traditionally celebrated with a goose dinner.

    "Goose summer" ("gossomer" in Middle English) was originally used as a name for these warm days in England, but beginning in the 14th century "gossamer" came to be applied to filmy spider webs and similar material, such as fine gauze. The rationale for the transference of meaning is unclear. Most probably it was simply that the webs were most often seen during "goose summer," but an association between the fuzzy down plucked from the doomed geese and the delicate webs drifting through the autumn air may also have played a part.

Gossamer probably did begin as goos somer, a name that refers to the part of the year that Americans identify as Indian summer. The Tohono O'odham call October the Small Rains Moon and just as I am just about finished mourning the passing of the refreshing monsoons, October will surprise me with a small rain and gossamer arrives on wings of butterflies in the desert. These many sized jewels of the insect world appear wherever and whenever desert broom are in bloom. There is no doubt that the Earth has tilted and the clear golden gauzy sunlight softens, as the days grow shorter.



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Word for the Wise

World Wide Words

Thursday, August 06, 2009


So how did the word amaranth go from being an imaginary flower to a genus of flowers by the likes are the deep red cockscomb, love-lies-bleeding, and prince's feather; to A color inclining to purple as Webby 1913 says? The entry for amaranth in Random House Webster's College Dictionary goes into more details about the story behind this interesting word:
    English amaranth, which first appeared in the 16th century, came from Latin amarantus, meaning not just 'flower', but 'an unfading flower'. The Greek word from which Latin amarantus derived is amarantos which is formed from the prefix a- meaning 'not' (called the "alpha privative") plus marainein meaning 'to wither or decay'. The Indo-European root of this word, mer- meaning 'to die', is also the source of such words as "mortal, murder," and "mortgage."
Anthos is Greek for flower as in polyanthus, a kind of primrose or narcissus that has "many flowers," so -ant was reshaped to read -anth even though it had no true connection. The Roman naturalist Pliny first wrote in the first century A.D about his imaginary amaranth and said it never faded. Clement of Alexandria said a hundred year later that the flower was a symbol of immortality. Whether he knew about the Greek amaranth isn't known although he may not have simply transplanting an actual earthly flower to heaven when he spoke of a crown made of amaranths. The etymology "not-fading" and the reference in 1 Peter 5:4 to an "unfading crown of glory" led Clement to invent his flower which, true to its name, never fades. Some genus of amaranth are used in diets as a source of protein. They are annuals, tall with seed heads that droop. The large flowers and foliage is usually showy and a bright gold and purple. The grains are used in cereals and they range in a wide variety of sizes and typically white. In a suburb of Brisbane a Greek gardener says that one of her wedding presents was a packet of family heirloom amaranth seeds. Perhaps so that their love would never fade.

An undying flower of rare color from ancient legend. What poet could ask for more? By 1667 Milton was talking about the ever blooming plant his epic poem Paradise Lost:

    Immortal amarant, a flower which once
    In Paradise fast by the tree of life
    Began to bloom; but soon, for man's offence,
    To heaven removed, where first it grew.
William Cowper describes the amaranth in his poem Hope as pleasures exempt from oblivion when he wrote in 1781:
    "Hope plucks amaranthine joys from bowers of bliss."
In one of his poems written 1858 about a couple of angels Henry Wadsworth Longfellow describes one of them as:
    "The angel with the amaranthine wreath, Pausing, descended."
Many thanks to Gritchka for explaining to me about the the Greek origins! So there you go, that's how the Romans went from from 'unfading' to 'flower' with the word amaranth.


The Maven's Word of the Day

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Public Domain text of the poem taken from E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898." Am'aranth."

Seed Savers Handbook


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

We Wear the Mask

WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes-
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties,

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To Thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile,
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

It's particularly difficult to find examples of early American black poets, men or women that are free of copyright control since for the most part and in most places copyright ends 75 years after first publication. Conditions of the 19th century made certain that very few American blacks would write poetry, and that even fewer would be published which was true into the second decade of the 1900's. In his lifetime, however, Dunbar was generally considered a glowing symbol of African-American literary artistry among both adults and the children of both the black and white communities.
Paul Laurence Dunbar surprised and angered a lot of people when his work was first published in the 1890s. Here was a Negro boy with a fresh, precise and poignant voice, telling the truth from an angle that was new to polite literature. His poems are still popular. His 1913 Collected Poems were still in print in the 1970s. ......We Wear the Mask is from his 1896 collection Lyrics of a Lowly Life, the book that made him a household name.

Stephen L. Spanoudis;The Poet's Corner

I never had the chance to study Paul Laurence Dunbar until I taught his poems to my fifth grade classes as part of a reading unit. Almost gone now are the many Paul Laurence Dunbar Literary Societies that at one time dotted America , but the schools and housing projects bearing his name still exist in many cities. You can see with this verse how well Dunbar wrote and the remarkable able range he had going from a piece composed in dialect as in The Old Apple Tree and in the standard classical form of this verse.


Blair, Bob

Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Pippi Longstocking

Some additional lore about the agreeable and pleasant Pippi, she is childhood heroine and we have a lot in common. The book is about a funny Swedish girl named Pippi Longstocking who is the strongest girl in the world. Her father is a cannibal king and her mother is deceased. Every book in the Pippi series is knock-your-socks-off funny. They are read aloud Childrens Literature Books for Ages 9-13.
Pippi is an irrepressible, irreverent, and irrefutably delightful nine-year-old girl who lives alone (with a monkey) in her wacky house, Villa Villekulla. When she's not dancing with the burglars who were just trying to rob her house, she's attempting to learn the "pluttification" tables. I would like to add a small is excerpt for illustration purposes. It begins when Pippi moves into Villa Villekulla,.....will the Child Welfare make her behave like a proper child, or will her papa, the pirate, come and rescue her?
Way out at the end of a tiny little town was an old overgrown garden, and in the garden was an old house, and in the house lived Pippi Longstocking. She was nine years old, and she lived there all alone. She had no mother and no father, and that was of course very nice because there was no one to tell her to go to bed just when she was having fun, and no one could make her take cod liver oil when she much preferred caramel candy.

Once upon a time Pippi had had a father of whom she was extremely fond. Naturally, she had had a mother too, but that was so long ago that Pippi didn't remember her at all. Her mother had died when Pippi was just a tiny baby and lay in a cradle and howled so that nobody could go anywhere near her. Pippi was sure that her mother was now in Heaven, watching her little girl through a peephole in the sky, and Pippi often waved up at her and called, "Don't you worry about me. I'll always come out on top."
Pippi had not forgotten her father. He was a sea captain who sailed on the great ocean, and Pippi had sailed with him in his ship until one day her father was blown overboard in a storm and disappeared. But Pippi was absolutely certain that he would come back. She would never believe that he had drowned; she was sure he had floated until he landed on an island inhabited by cannibals and went around with a golden crown on his head all day long.
"My papa is a cannibal king; it certainly isn't every child who has such a stylish papa," Pippi used to say with satisfaction. "And as soon as my papa has built himself a boat he will come and get me, and I'll be a cannibal princess. Heigh-ho, won't that be exciting?"
Her father had bought the old house in the garden many years ago. He thought he would live there with Pippi when he grew old and couldn't sail the seas any longer. And then this annoying thing had to happen, that he was blown into the ocean, and while Pippi was waiting for him go come back she went straight home to Villa Villekulla. That was the name of the house. It stood there ready and waiting for her. One lovely summer evening she had said good-bye to all the sailors on her father's boat. They were all fond of Pippi, and she of them.
"So long, boys," she said and kissed each one on the forehead. "Don't you worry about me. I'll always come out on top."
Two things she took with her from the ship: a little monkey whose name was Mr. Nilsson - he was a present from her father - and a big suitcase full of gold pieces. The sailors stood upon the deck and watched as long as they could see her. She walked straight ahead without looking back at all, with Mr. Nilsson on her shoulder and her suitcase in her hand.
"A remarkable child," said one of the sailors as Pippi disappeared in the distance.
He was right. Pippi was indeed a remarkable child. The most remarkable thing about her was that she was so strong. She was so very strong that in the whole wide world there was not a single police officer as strong as she. Why, she could lift a whole horse if she wanted to! And she wanted to. She had a horse of her own that she had bought with one of her many gold pieces the day she came home to Villa Villekulla. She had always longed for a horse, and now here he was, living on the porch. When Pippi wanted to drink her afternoon coffee there, she simply lifted him down into the garden.
Beside Villa Villekulla was another garden and another house. In that house lived a father and mother and two charming children, a boy and a girl. The boy's name was Tommy and the girl's Annika. They were good, well brought up, and obedient children. Tommy would never think of biting his nails, and he always did exactly what his mother told him to do. Annika never fussed when she didn't get her own way, and she always looked pretty in her little well-ironed cotton dresses; she took the greatest care not to get them dirty. Tommy and Annika played nicely with each other in their garden, but they had often wished for a playmate. While Pippi was still sailing on the ocean with her father, they often used to hang over the fence and say to each other, "Isn't is silly that nobody ever moves into that house. Somebody ought to live there - somebody with children."
On that lovely summer evening when Pippi for the first time stepped over the threshold of Villa Villekulla, Tommy and Annika were not at home. They had gone to visit their grandmother for a week; and so they had no idea that anybody had moved into the house next door. On the first day after they came home again they stood by the gate, looking out onto the street, and even then they didn't know that there actually was a playmate so near. Just as they were standing there considering what they should do and wondering whether anything exciting was likely to happen or whether it was going to be one of those dull days when they couldn't think of anything to play - just then the gate of Villa Villekulla opened and a little girl stepped out. She was the most remarkable girl Tommy and Annika had ever seen. She was Miss Pippi Longstocking out for her morning promenade.

translation by Florence Lamborn.

Lindgren, Astrid. "Pippi Moves into Villa Villekulla." Pippi Longstocking. Puffin Books, 1978.

A critical review of Pippi Longstocking by Georgie A. T., Grade 6
One day, two robbers named Bloom and Thunder-Karlsson come into Villa Villekulla (Pippi's home), see Pippi's big chest of gold coins and ask if Pippi is alone. Pippi truthfully says she is alone, but she does say that Mr. Nilsson (her pet monkey) is there also. Of course, (the robbers could not know Mr. Nilsson was a monkey). So they stayed outside, and waited for the lights to go out in Villa Villekulla (Pippi was learning to dance the schottische). When the lights were out, the robbers went in, but Pippi was still awake. So then they tried to steal Pippi's chest, but she gets it back, puts the two robbers on the chest-of-drawers, takes them down, and makes Bloom blow on the comb and Thunder-Karlsson dance with her. After Bloom got tired, Pippi suggested that they were tired and hungry. That was what the two bandits were, so Pippi decked out the table and the two robbers ate until they were four-cornered Read this book! I give it a 600 on my scale of 1 to 500.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Watergate Salad

    8 oz Cool Whip
    8 oz PistachioPudding
    15 oz Can Crushed Pineapple (do not drain)
    1 Cup Miniature Marshmallows
    ½ Cup Nuts

    Fold the dry pudding into whipped topping then add the pineapple and juice.
    Add the marshmallows and nuts then stir.
    Refrigerate 3-4 hours

    Cool and creamy, great with Bluegrass, blues and summertime chicken dinners. Watergate salad is so easy, simply double up the recipe to take to large gatherings too! Serving it around the Christmas holidays? Topped with maraschino cherries it makes a pretty holiday dish.

    This is a family favorite fruit salad recipe that takes about 20 minutes to prepare so it's great for those on the go. With pistachio pudding, whipped topping, and marshmallows it's a bit on the sweet side. There are a number of variants that calls for adding fruit cocktail instead of pineapple and for fewer calories you can substitute Jell-o Instant fat-free/sugar-free, 8 oz vanilla low fat yogurt along with 2 ½ cups Cool Whip Free topping

    Makes about 8 servings.


It's a cold salad with an alias

Watergate salad is really more of a dessert than a salad and it's sometimes called Pistachio Salad. Some may think that it's rather strange that a cold salad with this stage name of could reasonably contain walnuts, but indeed this recipe calls for walnuts or just plain nuts. Of course one could use pistachios.

Pistachios have been enjoyed since ancient times and were commonly deemed an extravagant treat until the 20th century when progress made them more available to cooks. Cookery through the ages tells us that these nuts were frequently used to add some zest to ice creams and parfaits. They were also used in pates, salads, baked goods, and candy, Volume 2 of The Cambridge World History of Food (2000) explains:

"Pistachio nut (is) a native of central Asia and member of the cashew family, the pistachio nut...has been cultivated for some 3,000 years and has a long history of popularity in the Mediterranean world. But it was not until the 1930s with the advent of vending machines, that pistachio nuts (also called pistache) imported from Italy became something of a rage in the United States as a snack food."

What's all this Watergate stuff?

In 1972 the Democratic National Committee Headquarters located at the Watergate Hotel and office complex in Washington, D.C. was broken into. The capture of five burglars led to an investigation by both the government and the media. They discovered that the burglars were connected with the campaign to re-elect Nixon. Further investigations also uncovered that the president and his aides had almost certainly misused their official powers in other ways. For example G. Gordon Liddy known as one of the "Plumbers" attempted to fixed a leak by breaking into the office of psychologist and previous Pentagon employee Daniel Ellsberg who had not only leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971, but was eventually prosecuted for espionage, theft, and conspiracy.

Congressional hearings revealed other evidence that President Nixon had installed a tape-recording device in the Oval Office. When the special prosecutor tried to get theses tapes of the Oval Office Nixon tried to block him by removing him from his job. However the second special prosecutor upheld by a ruling of a federal district court was successful in getting the president to hand over the tapes. However Nixon only made public some condensed transcripts and edited versions of the tapes.

The case made its way to the Supreme Court where Nixon's lawyers argued "that the case couldn't be heard in the courts because it involved a dispute within the executive branch." They further argued that, "executive immunity and privilege should protect the tapes."

The special prosecutor responded," that executive privilege is not absolute and that in this case the confidentiality normally accorded a president and his aides had to give way to the demands of the legal system in a criminal case. To give the president absolute executive privilege, he claimed, would amount to an unchecked power that could undermine the rule of law."

On March 1, 1974, the former aides of the president known as the Watergate Seven were indicted by a grand jury for conspiring to hinder the Watergate investigation. The grand jury also secretly named Nixon as an un-indicted co-conspirator. Congress began investigations into impeachment proceedings against the President and by July his presidency was teetering on the brink of disaster from the scandal. On the evening of August 8, 1974, President Nixon announced he would resign effective by noon the following day. With his resignation voiding the criminal investigations Nixon avoided impeachment and conviction.

Now let me make this perfectly clear.

Today some might think the reason for the name of this recipe is that someone had to resign. Not resign as in "I give up the Presidency." It's more like someone said "Oh, okay, I'll eat this whole bowl if I have to!" This recipe became popular during the Watergate Scandal of the 70's and it's easy to say it's because it was full of fruit, marshmallows, and nuts. After some research into some of the history, sure enough there's some good reasons for how this recipe came to earn its moniker.

Both Watergate salad, as well, as a recipe for Watergate cake were popular during the 1970's and there were a number of our parents' parties when my sister and I prepared this tongue-in-cheek dish. In 1973 there were a couple of cookbooks published to commemorate this auspiciously American event: "The Watergate Cookbook" (N.Y. Alplaus) and "The Watergate Cookbooks (Or, Who's in the Soup?)" by The Committee to Write the Cookbook. Lynne Olver of The Food Timeline comments that, "These may have been inspired by The Washington Post writer Tom Donnelly, who published an article titled Serve Hot, Then Count the Silver. " In addition to this classic Watergate recipe Olver goes on to list several other recipe titles from the Committee to Write the Cookbook: like, "Nixon's Hot Crossed Wired Buns with Tapping", "Liddy's Clam-Up Chowder" and "Ellsberg's Leek Soup".

While Watergate salad clearly gets its name from the scandal that caused Nixon's resignation, the connection between politics and the dessert is pretty ambiguous. For instance there are some connections to the Kraft Company because in 1975 they introduced the pistachio instant pudding mix used in both recipes. Even so, Kraft refuses to take credit for the name. Pat Risso of Kraft Corporate Affairs explains, "We developed the recipe for Pistachio Pineapple Delight. It was in 1975, the same year that pistachio pudding mix came out." In a 1999 article for The Richmond Times Dispatch, titled The proof is in the pudding; crashing Watergate Louis Mahoney notes in his research that Kraft didn't refer to it at all by this name until consumers started demanding a recipe for "Watergate Salad." In another response from Kraft to an e-mail query a representative says, "According to Kraft Kitchens, when the recipe for Pistachio Pineapple Delight was sent out, a Chicago food editor renamed it Watergate Salad to promote interest in the recipe when she printed it in her column." To follow up on his quest, Mahoney placed a call to Carol Haddix, the food editor of the Chicago Tribune who said. "Never heard of it."

Additional calls by the reporter to "previous Chicago food editors, publicists and retired Kraft Kitchens personnel also hit dead ends." However one writer for The Record (Bergen County, NJ) did discover in March 2000 that the original name for the cake recipe is "Watergate cake with cover-up icing." It's reasonable to conclude that this is probably a recipe that had been served for several years and eventually gained its out of the ordinary name from the parties, papers and reporting of the day. The most recent publication of this recipe was in the 1997 edition of JELL-O Celebrating 100 Years .

Sources :

"Eating Lite" Recipes
Accessed June 1, 2005.

Kiple, Kenneth F. and Ornelas, Kriemhild Conee. The Cambridge World History of Food, Volume 2, (2000), p.1835.

My recipe box.

Olver, Lynne, The Food Timeline
Accessed June 1, 2005.

Olver, Lynne, The Food Timeline
Accessed June 1, 2005.

United States v. Nixon (1974), Background Summary
Accessed June 1, 2005.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Loose Lips Sink Ships

An idiom that came from a poster "Loose lips might sink ships," an Allied slogan during World War II meaning unguarded talk may give useful information to the enemy.

The implications of the slogan was simple and clear: Do not divulge whatever information you have about ship sailing times and destinations. If the wrong set of ears heard the information, disaster could follow. Americans during World War II, had a duty to protect the confidentiality and secrecy of information.

The following is an excerpt from guidelines establishing rules of conduct by the U S Government given to each of the volunteer of drafted soldier as he entered the battle area.


THINK! Where does the enemy get his information -- information that can put you, and has put your comrades, adrift on an open sea: information that has lost battles and can lose more, unless you personally, vigilantly, perform your duty in SAFEGUARDING MILITARY INFORMATION?


  1. Don't write military information of Army units -- their location, strength, material, or equipment.
  2. Don't write of military installations.
  3. Don't write of transportation facilities.
  4. Don't write of convoys, their routes, ports (including ports of embarkation and disembarkation), time en route, naval protection, or war incidents occurring en route.
  5. Don't disclose movements of ships, naval or merchant, troops, or aircraft.
  6. Don't mention plans and forecasts or orders for future operations, whether known or just your guess.
  7. Don't write about the effect of enemy operations.
  8. Don't tell of any casualty until released by proper authority (The Adjutant General) and then only by using the full name of the casualty.
  9. Don't attempt to formulate or use a code system, cipher, or shorthand, or any other means to conceal the true meaning of your letter. Violations of this regulation will result in severe punishment.
  10. Don't give your location in any way except as authorized by proper authority. Be sure nothing you write about discloses a more specific location than the one authorized.


SILENCE MEANS SECURITY -- If violation of protective measures is serious within written communications it is disastrous in conversations. Protect your conversation as you do your letters, and be even more careful. A harmful letter can be nullified by censorship; loose talk is direct delivery to the enemy.

If you come home during war your lips must remain sealed and your written hand must be guided by self-imposed censorship. This takes guts. Have you got them or do you want your buddies and your country to pay the price for your showing off. You've faced the battle front; its little enough to ask you to face this 'home front.'


Most enemy intelligence comes from prisoners. If captured, you are required to give only three facts: YOUR NAME, YOUR GRADE, YOUR ARMY SERIAL NUMBER. Don't talk, don't try to fake stories and use every effort to destroy all papers. When you are going into an area where capture is possible, carry only essential papers and plan to destroy them prior to capture if possible. Do not carry personal letters on your person; they tell much about you, and the envelope has on it your unit and organization.



Loose Lips Sink Ships

Picture Source