Rhubarb…ND State Weed or blessing indeed?

Our first rhubarb party of the season
Our first rhubarb party of the season

From as early as mid/late May until into October, St. Anne’s Guest Home receives donations of Rhubarb. Sometimes I feel like having rhubarb parties (that is announcing, enticing, organizing, and supervising our residents to cut rhubarb) is my summer hobby or part-time job.

Although we may refer to it as “the North Dakota State Weed,” it does have many uses. You just want to mistake burdock (which really is a toxic weed) for rhubarb, which is technically part of the vegetable family.

Did you know that the court system actually ruled that it be considered a fruit for legal purposes because of its customary uses. Its roots in our country date back to a gardener in New England in the late 1700s, who got some from Europe. Rhubarb was actually used in China for medicinal purposes as early as 2700 BC.

I’d like to share a couple of interesting stories from its long history. In the mid-to-late 500s, it was given to an emperor of the Liang dynasty. According to http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/history, this was only after he was warned that “rhubarb, being a most potent drug, must be taken with great moderation.”

About 500 years later, “a Christian sentenced to a hard punishment is pardoned after using previously collected rhubarb to heal some soldiers.” I guess rhubarb can be handy to have around.

You’ve probably heard of Marco Polo, the famous explorer…He was well acquainted with Rhubarb from the East and relayed a lot of information when reporting on his travels.

Besides the above-mentioned medicinal and culinary uses, rhubarb (leaves) can also be used in your compost pile as they break down quickly, according to another online source. That same article also suggests that rhubarb can be used as a pink hair dye. It also suggests that its leaves can be used as a cleaner for your pots, adding a shine. They add a warning, however, which I have known for years: the leaves are poisonous so you need to be careful not to ingest them.

I learned another tidbit of helpful information when looking for a rhubarb cake recipe to use for our upcoming pie and cake ice cream social; one pound of rhubarb yields three cups of cut, raw rhubarb, or a little more.

Singin’ in the Rain

This past Sunday, I left our house to return to St. Anne’s to give our receptionist her lunch break.  Upon stepping outside, I saw that rain was POURING down; the ground was covered and water was actually standing on the grass and stepping stones that stand between our house and the main building.  I went back inside and got my OLD shoes on to make my way through the downpour.

I noticed the atmosphere around me inside was a bit dreary as well – what a wet, dismal day!  I know we needed the rain, but it did put a little damper on things.  I decided it would be nice, to cheer and liven things up, to have a little sing-along with our residents in our activity room.  After giving the lunch break and having my own dinner, I invited our residents to join in singing some hymns and old folk-songs.  I played piano/keyboard and they sang “Amazing Grace,” “In the Garden,” I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” and other favorites.

We had an enjoyable time, which brightened the dreary atmosphere.  After about 45 minutes of playing, I thought it was time to quit.  Afterwords, I felt like the fingers in my left hand had had a good workout and had done significant calisthenics; I am not used to playing for that length of time!

What would you like to see?


I just wanted to get some feedback from people…What would you be interested in reading about on the St. Anne’s Scoop?  Are there topics you’d suggest or other feedback that I could use to make this a better blog for my readers, as well as to encourage new readership as well.

Would you please let me know by posting a reply here or emailing me.  Thanks so much.  I hope you enjoy getting “The Scoop!”

Honoring our Older Americans in May

Older Americans MonthThree-fourths of our residents are 65 years of age or older. Therefore, it seems appropriate that we mention May’s observance which recognizes and honors our seniors.

Each year, the government’s Administration for Community Living sponsors “Older Americans Month.” This dates back to the Kennedy administration in 1963, when May was originally named Senior Citizen Month. It honors “older Americans and celebrating their contributions to our communities and our nation.” (See www.agingkingcounty.org/olderamericansmonth/)

This year, the agency is encouraging older Americans to Get into the Act, take charge of their health, be engaged in their communities, and make a positive impact in the lives of others, according to online materials they provide.

An interesting hypothesis they also provide is that “by the year 2020, more than 55 million U.S. adults will be over the age of 65.”

This month can be both a time to recognize the invaluable gift that older Americans are to the rest of society and a time to encourage them to engage in healthy habits and community engagement.

This month, why not thank an older American for who they are all they have done. And, why not stop by St. Anne’s and spend a little time visiting with our older Americans.

“Holy Mary, Now We Crown Thee…”

How many of you remember May devotions to Mary as children?  Although the origins are somewhat unknown, they seem to have originated in Italy.  However, according to Wikipedia, May devotions “spread eventually around the Roman Catholic world in the 19th century.”  Actually, according to an online resource from the University of Dayton, coronations of Mary have been a common practice since the late 1700s in the West.  As far as images of Mary being crowned, we might find the first one back in the book of Revelation, where the writer, St. John, saw “a woman clothed with the sun…and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Rev. 12)

Here at St. Anne’s the tradition, obviously, is not quite so ancient.  We have been holding a “May Crowning” here with our residents for the past several years, usually in our back courtyard off the atrium (see below).  Last year, however, the weather did not cooperate so we held it in our activity room.

Shelly from activities crowns Mary in our Fatima grotto.
Shelly from activities crowns Mary in our Fatima grotto.

This year, we hope to again have our May Crowning outside on Tuesday, May 5 at 3 p.m.  Visitors are also welcome to join us in honoring our Blessed Mother.  Let’s pray for good weather.  (If you plan to attend, please let me know so I have enough seating.)

The ceremony includes a couple of hymns and prayers.

May Crowning of Mary

Nurse needed

nurseI just wanted to help get the word out: we are looking for another nurse to assist with the care of our residents.  If you, or someone you know, is interested in the positions, I’d encourage you/them to visit: www.stannesguesthome.org/employment.html or stop by to fill out an application.

Click here to view and print a job application which may be turned in at St. Anne’s front reception desk.  If you would prefer, the MS Word version can be completed and emailed to stannesguesthome@gmail.com.