One Sure Way You Know You Spend Too Much Time On The Internet
Doctors and scientists are always telling us ways to live longer. Usually they involve a healthier diet or lifestyle: that is, eating fewer carbs and more vegetables, getting more exercise, or giving up smoking. Instead, here are 100 ways to avoid dying according to folklore!
We wholeheartedly endorse the rigorous and unpleasant methods of extending life suggested by doctors, but our research into centuries of American folk wisdom has turned up 100 EASY ways of avoiding death by observing a few simple rules in everyday situations. These beliefs come from all over this country and were actually collected by students of folklore and anthropology.
None of them were made up. Just remember: if you fail to observe these rules, we won’t be responsible for the consequences!
1. Don’t take ashes out of the fireplace or wood stove between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
2. Never place a broom on a bed.
3. Close umbrellas before bringing them into a house.
4. Avoid sweeping after sundown.
5. You mustn’t wash clothes on New Year Day.
6. Don’t shake out a tablecloth after dark.
7. Never wash a flag.
8. Don’t turn a chair on one leg.
9. Keep cats off piano keys.
10. Don’t hang a dishcloth on a doorknob.
11. Sweeping under a sick person’s bed will kill him or her.
12. Don’t ever, ever rock an empty rocking chair.
RENOVATION AND DECORATING
13. Never add-on to the back of your house.
14. You mustn’t cut a new window in an old house; the only way to avoid fatal consequences is to toss your apron through the new window, and then jump through it yourself.
15. Never drive a nail after sunset.
16. Don’t move into an unfinished house.
17. Avoid carrying axes, shovels, and other sharp-edged tools through a house; if you must take one inside, always take it out by the same door.
18. If you move out of a house, don’t move back into it for a year.
19. Don’t hang your sweetheart’s picture upside-down.
20. If a picture falls from the wall, don’t pick it up.
21. Never carry a peacock’s feather into a house.
22. Keep cut flowers out of bedrooms overnight.
23. Don’t ever carry a bouquet of wildflowers indoors before May 1.
SEWING AND FASHION
24. If you cut out a new dress on Friday, you must finish it that same day.
25. Don’t make new clothes between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
26. Never hold a stick in your mouth while sewing.
27. Always sew cross-stitching on your underwear.
28. Don’t walk around in one shoe.
29. If you see a will-o’-wisp while out walking at night, turn your coat inside-out.
30. Never wear another’s new clothes before they have worn them.
31. A woman who makes her own wedding dress will not live to wear it.
COOKING AND TABLE MANNERS
32. Never set three lamps on a table at the same time.
33. Don’t set the table backwards.
34. Never serve 13 at a table.
35. Avoid drinking coffee at 5 o’clock.
36. You mustn’t write on the back of a dish.
37. Never return borrowed salt.
38. Don’t ever cross knives while setting the table.
39. Be sure that someone else cooks your birthday dinner.
40. Don’t put two forks at one place setting.
41. Never, never turn a loaf of bread upside down.
42. Sleeping with your head at the foot of the bed is surely fatal.
43. Don’t sing in bed.
44. If you hear a dog howl at night, reach under the bed and turn over a shoe.
45. Don’t count stars.
46. A man should never dream of a naked woman; a woman should never dream of a naked man. (You know who you are…)
47. Never rub soap on your skin on a Friday.
48. Don’t look into a mirror over another’s shoulder.
49. Avoid combing your hair after dark.
50. Absolutely no haircuts in March.
51. Let a baby’s hair and fingernails grow until their 1st birthday.
52. Don’t let two people comb your hair at once.
53. Never shave at night.
54. NEVER, EVER share a razor used by a dead man.
55. Never hold a funeral on a Friday.
56. When a person dies in a house, you must immediately cover all mirrors and stop all clocks.
57. Children should not pretend to have funerals.
58. Don’t ever try on a mourning veil.
59. Always remove a dead body from a house feet first.
60. Never ride in a hearse, unless you are the driver.
61. Don’t count the cars in a funeral motorcade.
62. Avoid wearing new clothes to a funeral, especially new shoes.
63. Pull the shades in a room where a funeral service is taking place; if the sun hits a mourner’s face, he is the next to die.
64. When walking in a funeral procession, don’t look backwards.
65. Never point at a grave.
66. Try not to step across a grave.
67. Never leave a grave open overnight.
68. Don’t ever be the first to leave the graveyard after a funeral. (And hope that not everyone else follows this rule, too…)
69. If a corpse lies unburied on Sunday, another in town will surely die soon.
70. Wait a year before putting up a tombstone for a family member; if you don’t, another family member will go before the year has ended.
GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS
71. Drink May rainwater.
72. When sick, don’t look in mirrors.
73. Don’t give a person a peony.
74. Never measure your own height.
75. Try not to imagine it’s Saturday when it’s not.
76. Don’t count cars on a passenger train.
77. Never whistle in a coal mine.
78. Avoid measuring a person who is lying down.
79. Don’t walk backwards.
80. You mustn’t allow a candle to burn itself out.
81. Never sell a dog.
82. Try not to kill a crow; but if you do, be sure to bury it while wearing black.
83. If you transplant a cedar tree, you will die by the time it is big enough to shade a grave.
84. The same is true of a willow tree (as in 83)
85. Don’t ever hang your hoe on a tree branch.
86. Don’t skip a row when planting corn or beans.
87. If you watch a person out of sight, you’ll never see them again.
88. Avoid stepping over a person who is lying down.
89. When your name is called, don’t answer the first time—it may be the Devil calling you.
90. Never shake hands through a window or over a fence.
91. Try not to sit with your back to the fire.
92. Don’t burn sassafras wood.
93. If you walk with your hands locked behind your head, it will kill your mother.
94. Don’t even THINK of mocking an owl. (Who?)
95. Don’t store your shoes above your head.
96. Never kill a locust.
97. Never kill a lizard.
98. If you hear a hen crow, you must kill the hen.
99. If you are on a train when a woman boards, dressed in black, get off.
100. Whatever you do, don’t let a lizard count your teeth. (Seriously, just DON’T.)
SPRING ALLERGIES AND SUFFERIN’ SINUSES
Indoor and outdoor allergens can wreak havoc on your sinuses!
In most regions of the nation, spring brings on a pollen assault. For days, sometimes weeks, pollen fills the air. It dusts the car and buildings, the surrounding landscape. Many of us don’t have to see it to know that pollens have blown in: Our stuffed-up sinuses deliver the message.
FROM POLLEN ALLERGIES TO POST-NASAL DRIP
Those affected snort, cough, sneeze, blow their noses all day and can’t breathe all night. Their eyes may itch and swell shut, their faces get puffy, their jaws and even their teeth ache. They get hit around and just behind our eyes with blinding headaches. Sometimes they can’t smell or taste much.
And that’s just the seasonal allergies. Other folks suffer from year-round post-nasal drip, frequent colds, or recurrent full-blown sinus infections that just won’t quit.
If any of this misery describes you, you have a lot of company. What medical specialists who study and treat inflamed sinuses call rhinosinusitis is among the most common diseases in the U.S. Chronic rhinosinusitis afflicts 15 percent of the population, and 30 million of us will come down with acute (short-term) rhinosinusitis this year.
WHAT ARE SINUSES, ANYWAY?
The paranasal sinuses are air-filled spaces in the forehead, behind and around the eyes, behind the nose, and under the cheekbones. They produce mucus that drains into the nasal passages.
The functions of these holes in our heads remain something of a medical mystery, although scientists say they help humidify the air we breathe in, may contribute to immune function, and provide strength and structure to facial bones.
WHAT CAUSES INFLAMED SINUSES?
Setting aside chronic illnesses such as cystic fibrosis and asthma, inflamed sinuses have a variety of causes, including infections (usually viral, but sometimes bacterial or fungal), allergies, environmental irritants, a deviated septum, nasal polyps, infected teeth, even stress.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
Specialists suggest toughing it out for the first week to 10 days of an acute bout with stuffed-up sinuses, since most sinusitis comes from a viral infection and clears up without medical treatment.
See a doctor if your stuffiness lasts more than a couple of weeks, if you spike a high fever, if you experience chronically inflamed sinuses, or if you fall prey to recurrent respiratory illnesses.
Don’t be quick to beg your doctor for an antibiotic to treat your sinus inflammation. Infectious disease experts say only a small percentage of cases result from a bacterial infection that may respond to antibiotics. Most rhinosinusitis results from a cold virus, and antibiotics don’t treat viral infections.
Using antibiotics when you don’t need them helps promote antibiotic resistance, a serious global threat, which means that antibiotics may no longer work to treat serious bacterial illnesses.
Depending on your symptoms, physicians have an array of drugs to help manage your sinus problems. You’ll also find a dozen or more decongestants and antihistamines on pharmacy shelves that work in various ways to alleviate clogged sinuses (though they effect no cures). But all prescription or OTC congestion-relieving products have side effects, some serious.
People with chronic illnesses, or who take other prescription medications, should check with their doctor before using over-the-counter sinus relief products. Longterm or too-frequent use of some OTC products can worsen your symptoms or interact with other medications.
SELF-CARE FOR SINUSITIS
Many simple, drug-free self-care practices can help relieve acutely or chronically inflamed sinuses:
- Try one of these safe, quick tricks for immediate (though temporary), relief. Amazing!
- Especially when you have a cold, stay well-hydrated (lots of water and warm tea).
- Humidify the air in your home, and if you’re really stuffy, try a good, old-fashioned steam (hold a big towel over your head to catch the steam from a pot of simmering water). You might also try a personal steam inhaler, available at pharmacies.
- Irrigate your sinuses and nasal passages with a warm saline solution to clear dust, pollen, and excess mucus. If you choose to try this ancient sinus-irrigating technique of the neti pot, please read and follow these FDA instructions to the letter. It’s especially important to use only boiled or sterile water in your pot.
- Before sleep, slap on a Breathe Right or other brand of nasal strips. These band-aid like devices gently pull open the nasal passages and keep them open through the night.
- If allergies are causing your sinus congestion, try allergy-proofing your home. (Serious work!)
HERBAL REMEDIES FOR ALLERGIES AND SINUS CONGESTION
Many people find relief from seasonal allergic rhinitis or chronic sinus inflammation with herbs, (including me).
First, the caveats:
- Chat with your doctor about trying an herbal remedy. Remember, if an herbal product is effective, it works as a drug. You may experience an allergic reaction or side effects, and the herb may interact with other drugs or herbs you’re already taking. Your doctor will have access to information that might not be readily available to you.
- Unless you’re under the supervision of a medical professional, don’t take any herbal products if you’re pregnant or nursing, or if you have a chronic illness such as diabetes or asthma.
- Tell your doctor about all herbs or supplements you take.
- Don’t take more than what’s recommended on the label of the product you choose.
Indigenous peoples have used, and modern herbalists still use, many native herbs to treat both short-term and long-term congestion. Among the best-known and most widely used: stinging nettle and butterbur. Small clinical studies have shown positive effects for both these herbs.
- Stinging nettle has been used for centuries as a remedy for allergic rhinitis (and many other ailments). Modern freeze-drying apparently concentrates the compounds that soothe inflamed nasal passages and sinuses.
- Some research has shown that butterbur eases allergic rhinosinusitis (and also migraines), though the unprocessed herb contains potentially toxic compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). If you want to try butterbur, use only a product that’s certified PA-free.
MY STORY WITH SINUSITIS
After years of intermittent severe pain in my left upper molars, and repeated visits to endodontists who couldn’t detect anything wrong, a dental hygienist finally diagnosed the problem from an X-ray.
“Oh, look!” She exclaimed, pointing. “See how the roots of these molars extend way up into your sinus cavity. Whenever your sinuses swell up, they press on those roots and cause your discomfort.”
I’ve suffered from an irritating post-nasal drip for decades, which may (or may not) be related to pollen, woodsmoke, wood ashes, sawdust, and careless housekeeping. My colds lasted for weeks.
I tried OTC antihistamines, prescription steroid sprays, and a Chinese herb that gave me heart palpitations. I used neti pots and steamers. I drank copious amounts of my homemade mix of dried goldenrod-yarrow tea all winter (works well to open stuffed sinuses, but the results don’t last long.)
After reading recommendations from two herb-friendly medical doctors to take freeze-dried nettles for sinus congestion, I decided to try them. I knew I wasn’t allergic to the plant, since I’d pulled and eaten the young leaves in large quantities every spring for decades. (They flourish as weeds in my raspberry patch.) I don’t take any prescription medications, so I didn’t worry about drug interactions.
I started one spring morning with a single 300 mg capsule. Within minutes, my airways cleared, my head stopped pounding, and my eyes stopped itching, without any of the uncomfortable dried-out feeling I get from antihistamines.
Ever since, I’ve taken one or two 300-mg capsules whenever I start feeling stuffy, every few hours if needed. I know stinging nettle won’t work for everyone with a sinus problem, but it’s been life-altering for me.
ABOUT THIS BLOG
“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, ideas to make your home a healthy and safe haven, and the latest news on health. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.
Herbs and natural remedies can help calm anxiety and stress. Here’s a list of ways to relieve anxiety naturally.
First, attempt to calm thyself. If gardening or another relaxing activity doesn’t calm your nerves and make you sleep well, you’ll have to try some of these other tips involving herbs for anxiety and anxiety remedies. If gardening does help, you can grow some of these herbs so that you can beat your anxiety in two ways.
Insomnia can often be caused by stress or anxiety, or insomnia can lead to anxiety. For this reason, we include some natural remedies for insomnia here as well.
- Teas of chamomile, basil, marjoram, sage, or mint help ease stress. Use about 1 ounce fresh herbs (half of that if dried) for every 2 to 3 cups water.
- A tea of elderberry flowers is considered relaxing to the nerves and is sleep-inducing, too. (Caution! Avoid if pregnant.)
- For insomnia, drink bee balm. It acts as a mild sedative, calming the nerves and aiding sleep. Take an infusion of 2 teaspoons chopped leaves in 1 cup boiling water.
- Drink rosemary tea to alleviate melancholy or depression.
- Native American tea ingredients for insomnia included lady’s slipper (decocted), yarrow, mullein, hops, and purslane (decocted).
- Valerian tea (or capsules) is a natural sleep aide. In infusions, 1 ounce of the roots in 1 pint boiling water is a common recipe, consumed by wineglass as needed. (Caution: Too high a dose may lead to negative side effects!)
HOME REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY: FOOD
- First, do not eat your final meal late in the evening, and keep the meal light.
- Eating lettuce with your dinner is supposed to be calming, helping you to sleep and have pleasant dreams. Some say you should not have vinegar with your lettuce.
- Mandarin oranges are soporifics, so consider adding them to your evening meal to help insomnia.
- Native Americans reportedly ate raw onions to induce sleep. (They also used a variety of herbal syrups and poultices, but they’re a bit too complicated for most of us today.)
- Trying to remain relaxed but alert? Some studies suggest that the smell of apples, apple cider vinegar, or spiced apples have this effect. The right smell can make all the difference.
- Adding some calm-inducing foods to your diet can also be helpful. Try this collection of herb recipes to see if you can incorporate beneficial herbs into your meals.
NATURAL ANXIETY RELIEF: MASSAGES AND RUBS
- Massage your temples with lavender oil.
- A warm bath with a couple of drops of chamomile oil aides sleeping. Add a splash of lavender oil for a relaxing aroma.
- For a relaxing body rub, soak equal parts finely chopped dandelions, burdock (roots and/or aerial parts), yellow dock, and lobelia in a mason jar of vodka for two weeks. Apply externally (and avoid the temptation to drink the solution).
HOW TO RELIEVE ANXIETY AT BEDTIME
- Strew lavender in the linen closet to scent your bed sheets with this mildly narcotic herb.
- Try putting a few drops of lavender oil in or right under your nose—gently, with a cotton swab (Q-tip).
- Sprinkle infusions of dill on your pillowcases and quickly iron them dry or fluff them in a clothes dryer.
- Dill will also lull cranky babies to sleep. Add dill infusion to the bath, sprinkle on a baby’s blanket, or use as a hair rinse. (We all know babies can cause stress—if they can sleep, maybe you can sleep, too!)
- Sage is considered a “ghost medicine,” used to prevent stressful nightmares. Strew it on the floor or in the bed.
- Keep in mind: Not every fragrant herb is suitable for a good night’s sleep. Some can have the reverse effect. You may wish to consult an herbalist.
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.
Celebrate the gorgeous month of May! The Sun is warming, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the garden is growing. See what fun and interesting days May has to offer—from holidays to history to advice.
Oh! fragrant is the breath of May
In tranquil garden closes,
And soft yet regal is her sway
Among the springtide roses.
—William Hamilton hayne, American poet (1856–1929)
May is named for the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants.
- May 1 is May Day. Mark the return of spring by bringing in branches of forsythia, lilacs, or other flowering shrubs from your region.
- In Hawaii, May 1 is celebrated as Lei Day. Leis are garlands or wreaths that are often made with native Hawaiian flowers and leaves. Nowadays, they are given as a symbol of greeting, farewell, affection, celebration, or honor, in the spirit of aloha. Lei Day originated in 1927, when poet Don Blanding proposed a holiday to recognize the lei’s role in Hawaiian culture. Writer Grace Tower Warren suggested May 1 for the date because it coincided with May Day, a celebration also linked to flowers. She coined the phrase, “May Day is Lei Day.” The first Lei Day observance occurred on May 1, 1928. The following year, it was made an official holiday in the territory. (Hawaii did not become a state until 1959.)
Today, Lei Day celebrations may include music, games, exhibits, and lei-making demonstrations and contests.
- May 5 is Cinco de Mayo (“The Fifth of May”). This day celebrates the victory of the Mexicans over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862.
- May 12 is Mother’s Day! Do you have something planned to show appreciation for your mother?
- May 20 is Victoria Day in Canada. This holiday celebrates the birthday of Queen Victoria.
- May 27 is Memorial Day—a poignant reminder of the tenacity of life. It’s tradition to post the flag on this day.
“Just for Fun” Days
May is Get Caught Reading Month and National Good Car-Keeping Month. Here are some more wacky things to celebrate this May:
- May 1: School Principals’ Day
- May 2: World Tuna Day
- May 5–11: Root Canal Awareness Week
- May 8: No Socks Day
- May 14: Dance Like a Chicken Day
- May 28: Slugs Return from Capistrano Day
- The wedding season is almost upon us.
- Don’t get stressed!
- Spring cleaning? See homemade cleaning remedies and other tips to help you around the home.
- See our free vegetable, herb, and fruit growing guides for tips on planting, growing, and harvesting your most popular crops.
- In May, enjoy new life by attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden!
- Celebrate a new season of flowers by planting window boxes!
- Mid-spring is also the time when moles start coming out.
MAY FOLKLORE AND FUN
A dry May and a leaking June
Make the farmer whistle a merry tune.
A snowstorm in May
Is worth a wagonload of hay.
Among the changing months, May stands confessed
The sweetest, and in fairest colors dressed!
–James Thomson, Scottish poet (1700–48)
- May’s full Moon, the Full Flower Moon, occurs on Saturday the 18th, at 5:11 P.M. (EDT).
- See the May 2018 Sky Watch to find out what to look for this month and the May 2018 Sky Map to navigate the night sky from your own backyard.
MAY ZODIAC SIGNS
Taurus: April 21 to May 20
Gemini: May 21 to June 20
MAY BIRTH SYMBOLS
May’s birth flower is the Hawthorn or Lily-of-the-Valley.
The hawthorn means hope, while the lily-of-the-valley symbolizes sweetness or the return of happiness.
May’s birthstone is the emerald.
A few fun facts about emeralds:
- The emerald is a green type of beryl. Its color ranges from light to rich green; the more saturated hues are more valuable, especially if pure- or blue-green.
- Natural emeralds are flawed, with fractures or other materials mixed in, called inclusions, which may appear as needles, columns, or cubes of minerals or bubbles of gas or liquid. Sometimes oil or resin is added to fill fractures and improve appearance.
- Some of the best emeralds come from South American mines, although perhaps the oldest known came from Egypt. The emerald was a favorite gem of Cleopatra.
- The emerald symbolizes rebirth and fertility and was thought to grant foresight, cure various diseases, soothe nerves, improve memory, and ensure loyalty.
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY
May 23: What’s Your Name?
On this day in 1707, Swedish botanist and naturalist Carl Linnaeus was born. One of his major achievements was the formal introduction of a system of classifying and naming organisms according to genus and species, called binomial nomenclature. The method uses Latin words (a language commonly used by scholars in his day). For example, humans are classified as Homo sapiens. Homo, meaning “man,” is the genus and sapiens, meaning “wise,” is the species. Several species may exist within one genus, but each species only has one scientific name. Scientists today use a modified version of Linnaeus’s system. Because the same naming convention is used throughout the world, it eliminates much confusion when discussing organisms.
Did You Know?
Carl Linnaeus originated the use of 0 (the symbol for Mars) to mean male and 1 (the symbol for Venus) to mean female.
May 26: Terrifying Twisters
On this day in 1917, tornadoes struck central Illinois, killing 101 people. Originally thought to be just one tornado that wreaked havoc along a 293-mile-long path, the outbreak was later determined to be four to eight tornadoes. One of them lasted 4 hours and followed a track 155 miles long (including the distance traveled while in the air). Mattoon and Charleston were especially hard hit by an F4 tornado (original Fujita scale). In Mattoon, almost 500 houses were destroyed.
According to newspaper reports:
- straw was driven ½ inch deep into a tree
- a flagpole with flag was blown four blocks and planted upright in the ground
- books and other items were carried 50 to 70 miles away
According to astronomers, what is a Julian day?
Answer: The term “Julian day” can be confusing because it has several meanings, including being a date on the Julian calendar. In astronomy, however, the Julian day (or Julian day number) is the number of days that have passed since the start of a Julian period. The Julian period is a year-numbering system developed by 16th-century French astronomer Joseph Justus Scaliger. He determined that the current Julian period began on January 1, 4713 B.C. of the Julian calendar; every 7,980 years, the count of years restarts.
For dating and comparing the timing of astronomical events and observations, John Herschel and other astronomers created a day-numbering system based on Scaliger’s Julian period. There are no months in a Julian day system; it simply counts the days, and fractions of days in decimals, since the period began. Julian day 0 occurred on January 1, 4713 B.C. The Julian day starts at noon Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time) so that nighttime astronomical events occur on one Julian day.
A Julian date includes the fraction of a Julian day. For example, on May 1, 2016 (Gregorian calendar date), at midnight (the start of the day on a common calendar) the Julian day number was 2457509, and the Julian date was 2457509.5. On May 1, 2016, at noon, the Julian day number changed to 2457510 and the Julian date to 2457510.0.
The Wisdom of Buddha
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.