3 Mysteries Surround Betsy Ross


Do you know what the mysteries are that surround Betsy Ross? How many times was she married? How many children did she have? How many times was she buried? If you have answered yes or no, read on.

What are the mysteries that surround Betsy Ross?

Elizabeth Griscom was born on January 1, 1752. She was born the eighth of seventeen children sixteen girls and one boy. She was called Betsy. Her family were Quakers. Her parents were Samuel and Rebecca Griscom. Her father was a master carpenter.

Betsy went to school at a Quaker School. She learned reading, writing, arithmetic and sewing. After leaving school Betsy undertook an apprenticeship in upholstery, this is where she met and fell in love with John Ross. She learned to repair chairs, curtains, rugs umbrellas and to make flags.

Betsy and John eloped. Her parents did not approve of John since he was not a Quaker and Betsy was, “read out.” This means she was severed from her parents, her large family and the Quaker Community.

The couple returned to Philadelphia to start their own upholstery business in 1774. Betsy and John attended Christ Church and sat next to George Washington’s family. Betsy and John were married three years when John died in 1776 guarding an ammunition site during the Revolutionary War.

Betsy now widowed and alone inherited land. She continued to work at her upholstery business. Business was hard because of the Revolutionary war and material was hard to come by.

In the summer of 1776 Betsy met with the committee of three General, George Washington, George Ross, and Robert Morris. This led to the sewing of the first historical flag. Thirteen stars in a circle and thirteen strips. General, George Washington was very specific. He said, “I want the stars in a circle to represent the thirteen colonies. I do not want any of the colonies names above the others.”

In 1777 Betsy wed a sea captain Joseph Ashborn. They had two daughters one died in youth. Caption Ashborn was captured and died in prison.

In 1777 Betsy’s home was seized by the British Army during the historic winter at Valley Forge. Betsy was a strong supporter of the Militia.

Widowed again Betsy remarried an old friend John Claypoole, They had 5 daughters. John died in 1800 of a stroke.He had been bedridden for 17 years.

94 years later the story of the making of the first flag was told by Betsy’s grandson in 1780 William J. Canby at the meeting of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The speech was printed in the Harper Weekly.

The only fact which was found after extensive research is this The State Navy Board Pennsylvania for May 29, 1777, an order on William Webb to Elizabeth Ross for fourteen pounds twelve shillings, and two pence for making ship’s colors, & c put into Richard’s store. Betsy made ship’s colors for Pennsylvania state ships.

There is not any other documentation available.

Not only does mystery surround Betsy about the making of the first flag – but in her death.

Betsy died in Philadelphia at age 84 completely blind. Her house is located at 239 Arch street, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania it isa popular tourist attraction.

Not only was Betsy married and widowed three times – she was buried three times. Betsy Ross was first buried at the Free Quaker burial ground on South 5th street. 20 years later her remains were exhumed and reburied in the Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia in the family gravesite. In the preparation of the United States Bicentennial the city ordered her remains to be moved to the Betsy Ross house in 1975. However, workers did not find any remains under her tombstone. Bones found elsewhere and unidentified were declared hers and re- buried in her grave at the Betsy Ross home.

Whose bones are in Betsy Ross’s grave. Hers, or another family member?

In 1909 a book was written by George Canby and nephew Lloyd Balderson. The book is titled, The Evolution of the American Flag. It gave positive information about Betsy making the first flag as was told to her family by Betsy.

A painting by Charles H. Weisgerber was printed into the book called, Birth Of Our Nations Flag. It showed Betsy and her granddaughters presenting the flag to General George Washington and others. This book became an instant sensation. The picture was printed in all the school text books in the United States.

A fund was started by school children to contribute ten cents each until they reach two million dollars to purchase and renovate the Betsy Ross house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Historians do not believe the house is the Betsy Ross house. But once again records were not available.

Is the house really Betsy Ross’s house?

The question is why did the public believe Betsy Ross did indeed make the first flag?

(1) The Speech her grandson made at the Historical Sociiety of Pennsylvania.

(2) The book, The Evolution of the American Flag.

(3) Married 3 times and widowed two times during the Revolutionary War.

(4) Owned and managed her own land.

(5) Single mother.

(6) Business woman.

(7) Using Betsy’s name in advertising was big business for selling flags and other items.

(8) Managed her own household.

(9) Member of the “Fighting Quakers.”

(10) Made American Flags for 50 years.

(11) The public loved the idea of a woman being a hero.

Does it really matter if Betsy Ross sewed the first flag? She was a gutsy lady. Way before her time. She proved her patriotism many times over and mystery still surrounds her life.

Thank you for reading my article. Please feel free to read any of the numerous articles I have written on several different subjects.

Copyright Linda E. Meckler 2008

Indoor Furniture, Outdoor Furniture – What’s the Difference?


In the world of furniture manufacturing, there are companies that specialize in indoor furniture, outdoor furniture and between the two there is a limited amount of crossover. Outdoor furniture is built differently than the indoor variety, and while you can always use outdoor furniture inside, the opposite is not always the case. If you are debating moving some furniture for outside for a party or a much longer period of time, know what should and shouldn’t be used, and what can be made over to better handle the elements.

Be a material girl:

You don’t have to be Madonna to figure out that some materials are better suited for the outdoors than others, depending on type of furniture. Outdoor materials need to be sturdy enough to withstand variant temperatures, a certain amount of moisture from rain, dew, etc. and humidity.

Common sense dictates that there are certain materials that should never be taken outside, unless you’re absolutely sure that the weather will be perfect. For instance, carpeting is a disaster when it gets wet. It takes forever to dry, and can mold, and it also gets really stiff when it’s cold. That’s why rugs not meant for the outside should stay inside. Likewise, materials like suede, fleece, and dry-only materials should also not be taken outside. Companies manufacture cushion and deep seating fabrics that mimic the feel of more luxurious materials, but are fully waterproof.

Then there are certain pieces that can go outdoors for limited periods of time before you have to worry. Wicker, for instance, though technically considered patio furniture, is not that strong and holds up much better in sunrooms and away from prolonged exposure to sun and rain. Then there are things like thin pottery, ceramic and plastic pieces that are waterproof but not suitable as furniture, outdoor or in. They aren’t strong enough to withstand extreme temperature changes or strong, inclement weather. Untreated metal is also okay to get wet for short periods, but for much longer than that and you risk it rusting.

Then there are those materials intended for use as outdoor furniture. Outdoor materials are especially hearty but still look visually pleasing. Examples of tables, chairs, planters, and more can be seen made out of the following: treated wood and hardwoods, galvanized metal, powder-coated metal (aluminum, wrought iron, zinc hardware), stone and cement (as tables, benches and umbrella stands), marbles, clay and reinforced ceramics (as planter pots), poly resin plastics and waterproof nylon (used in canopies and as cushion covers).

This list only begins to scratch the surface of the multitude of materials that make up our lives. In all, use your best judgment about whether something can go outdoors. Take into account weather patterns. If it’s really nice out, you can be more lenient about what you take outside as furniture. Outdoor conditions can change rapidly, though, so keep an eye out.

Treating Wood

The best thing you can repurpose for use as indoor furniture/outdoor furniture is wood. It’s no more difficult than adding some varnish and it might save you from unnecessarily buying all new furniture. To begin with, take a look at the wood you’re working with. Stay away from old wood that’s in bad condition, as it will deteriorate at an even more rapid pace once taken outside. Next, check what species of wood you have. Some of the naturally stronger woods, like teak, pine, cedar and cypress, are great for the outside. These woods are already strong and durable on their own and require little extra protection. More delicate woods will require extra sealant and even then they probably won’t last as long outside as hardwoods.

To begin the weatherproofing process, you will need to cover wood with a fade-proof, UV-resistant finish. Sand away any lacquer that may already exist on your furniture. Whatever finish is on there is most likely intended for inside, and while it will give furniture a high gloss shine, it’s not the right kind of varnish that will protect it from moisture and the outdoor elements. After the surface is smooth, even and clean you can apply a sealant, usually an oil-based varnish, unless you’re working with a wood that produces its own oils, like teak and cedar furniture. Outdoor atmospheric elements will dry out wood more quickly than furniture that’s kept indoors, so it’s important to protect the surface and heartwood against cracking, rotting and warping. Once that’s complete, you’re good to go. From then on, simply oil and clean your wood furniture once to twice a year to keep it healthy.

The Umbrella Cockatoo – 5 Characteristics That Make the Cockatoo a Charming Companion Bird


The Umbrella Cockatoo is a large Parrot with a big personality to match. Here are 5 traits that keep it in constant demand as a pet bird.

Beauty-Their snowy white plumage makes a wonderful and striking contrast to their dark beaks and eyes, and gray or black feet. In flight they are like sunshine as they show the under side of their feathers that are yellow in color. But probably their most amazing feature is their crest. Usually it is kept flat on the head, but when extended, forms a half circle of beautiful feathers above their head, similar to an umbrella. They are truly elegant creatures whether they are flying or perched on your finger.

Affectionate Personality-Known for their great affection for and ability to bond with their humans, they are often accurately described as cuddly. They love physical contact with their humans and need this several hours each day to remain emotionally healthy. They are perfect companions for someone who has a lot of daily time and energy to devote. If your life style does not permit you to spend at least 2 hours a day with your Cockatoo, consider another bird that is less demanding of your time, attention, and affection.

Trainability-Cockatoos are extremely intelligent birds that are capable of learning and performing a wide variety of tricks. Short, daily training sessions yield the best results. Your consistency and patience will pay off not only in the tricks that your Cockatoo will eagerly perform for family and friends, but also in the trust and loving bond that this daily attention will create between you. They are so trainable that they are often featured in their own shows at the circus and zoo! So there you have it, the sky is truly the limit for what they can achieve.

Enthusiastic Eaters-They love to eat, and are not particularly fussy about what they eat. They still depend on you to provide a well balanced diet to help them stay strong, healthy, and happy. A healthy diet should include a constant supply of clean water, a high quality pellet diet as a base supplemented by fresh organic vegetables, sprouted seeds, and a smaller amount of fruits and nuts. Some fruit seeds are toxic to Cockatoos so check with your vet before feeding. Round out their diets with occasional table foods such as small pieces of boiled or thoroughly cooked scrambled eggs, cottage cheese and small pieces of cooked meat, pasta, and crackers. Provide a varied menu within these guidelines to keep your bird’s interest high at meal time.

Long Life Span-If you are looking for a life long companion, the Cockatoo has one of the longest life spans of any Parrot. With proper care they can live 80 years or more. Now that’s a friend for life!

Offset And Cantilever Umbrellas – What’s Up With Them?


One of the hottest (and coolest) new umbrella products is what is known as an offset or cantilever umbrella. Instead of having a pole in the center, the cantilever umbrella is held up by a sturdy pole to the side and a rotating arm that connects to the “skin” of the umbrella. This means you can use and enjoy the entire shade area of the umbrella. It also means you can easily rotate the umbrella as the sun moves to keep providing shade without having to move a heavy base.

Some models are equipped with a tilt and lock feature, meaning the capabilities for providing shade are almost limitless.

A cantilever umbrella makes a great choice for poolside where, in some situations, you can position the umbrella to provide protection from the sun while you’re in the water.

Another advantage to a cantilever or offset umbrella is that it can be used to shade a patio table without the need for a hole in the center of the table. Then everyone seated at the table has an unobstructed view of everyone else.

There are three important factors to consider though, before you buy an offset umbrella. First, manufacturers do not recommend these large umbrellas (10 ft. – 11ft. diameter) for use where conditions tend to be windy. Although they are usually well built, their design makes them vulnerable to instability in high wind.

Secondly, cantilever umbrellas require heavy bases for sufficient stability. The recommended weight is 100 lbs., although heavier is better. Special cantilever umbrella bases are available in 110 lb. resin models and also in hollow style. Hollow bases are less expensive, but you must fill them with sand or concrete.

The third consideration is price. Cantilever umbrellas must be well made or they can be more trouble than they are worth. A good 11ft. cantilever umbrella can cost three times what a comparable size crank and tilt market umbrella costs.

The growing popularity of cantilever umbrellas means you will certainly notice them more and more. Their distinctive look and adaptability make them the right choice for anyone wanting a premium shade product with maximum usefulness.

The Umbrella Cockatoo – 5 Characteristics That Make the Cockatoo a Charming Companion Bird


The Umbrella Cockatoo is a large Parrot with a big personality to match. Here are 5 traits that keep it in constant demand as a pet bird.

Beauty-Their snowy white plumage makes a wonderful and striking contrast to their dark beaks and eyes, and gray or black feet. In flight they are like sunshine as they show the under side of their feathers that are yellow in color. But probably their most amazing feature is their crest. Usually it is kept flat on the head, but when extended, forms a half circle of beautiful feathers above their head, similar to an umbrella. They are truly elegant creatures whether they are flying or perched on your finger.

Affectionate Personality-Known for their great affection for and ability to bond with their humans, they are often accurately described as cuddly. They love physical contact with their humans and need this several hours each day to remain emotionally healthy. They are perfect companions for someone who has a lot of daily time and energy to devote. If your life style does not permit you to spend at least 2 hours a day with your Cockatoo, consider another bird that is less demanding of your time, attention, and affection.

Trainability-Cockatoos are extremely intelligent birds that are capable of learning and performing a wide variety of tricks. Short, daily training sessions yield the best results. Your consistency and patience will pay off not only in the tricks that your Cockatoo will eagerly perform for family and friends, but also in the trust and loving bond that this daily attention will create between you. They are so trainable that they are often featured in their own shows at the circus and zoo! So there you have it, the sky is truly the limit for what they can achieve.

Enthusiastic Eaters-They love to eat, and are not particularly fussy about what they eat. They still depend on you to provide a well balanced diet to help them stay strong, healthy, and happy. A healthy diet should include a constant supply of clean water, a high quality pellet diet as a base supplemented by fresh organic vegetables, sprouted seeds, and a smaller amount of fruits and nuts. Some fruit seeds are toxic to Cockatoos so check with your vet before feeding. Round out their diets with occasional table foods such as small pieces of boiled or thoroughly cooked scrambled eggs, cottage cheese and small pieces of cooked meat, pasta, and crackers. Provide a varied menu within these guidelines to keep your bird’s interest high at meal time.

Long Life Span-If you are looking for a life long companion, the Cockatoo has one of the longest life spans of any Parrot. With proper care they can live 80 years or more. Now that’s a friend for life!

Offset And Cantilever Umbrellas – What’s Up With Them?


One of the hottest (and coolest) new umbrella products is what is known as an offset or cantilever umbrella. Instead of having a pole in the center, the cantilever umbrella is held up by a sturdy pole to the side and a rotating arm that connects to the “skin” of the umbrella. This means you can use and enjoy the entire shade area of the umbrella. It also means you can easily rotate the umbrella as the sun moves to keep providing shade without having to move a heavy base.

Some models are equipped with a tilt and lock feature, meaning the capabilities for providing shade are almost limitless.

A cantilever umbrella makes a great choice for poolside where, in some situations, you can position the umbrella to provide protection from the sun while you’re in the water.

Another advantage to a cantilever or offset umbrella is that it can be used to shade a patio table without the need for a hole in the center of the table. Then everyone seated at the table has an unobstructed view of everyone else.

There are three important factors to consider though, before you buy an offset umbrella. First, manufacturers do not recommend these large umbrellas (10 ft. – 11ft. diameter) for use where conditions tend to be windy. Although they are usually well built, their design makes them vulnerable to instability in high wind.

Secondly, cantilever umbrellas require heavy bases for sufficient stability. The recommended weight is 100 lbs., although heavier is better. Special cantilever umbrella bases are available in 110 lb. resin models and also in hollow style. Hollow bases are less expensive, but you must fill them with sand or concrete.

The third consideration is price. Cantilever umbrellas must be well made or they can be more trouble than they are worth. A good 11ft. cantilever umbrella can cost three times what a comparable size crank and tilt market umbrella costs.

The growing popularity of cantilever umbrellas means you will certainly notice them more and more. Their distinctive look and adaptability make them the right choice for anyone wanting a premium shade product with maximum usefulness.

How Long Will a Market Patio Umbrella Last?


How long will a patio umbrella last? This wonderful question is a very common question from our loyal customers over the years. Depending on the type of construction, and usage of your patio umbrella will change how long it will last. Using a patio umbrella protective cover to protect your umbrella from the weather elements or even if you store your umbrella in a protective shed, having a protective cover over it will increase the life span of the material allowing for more use, saving you money! Shades are available in many different fabric and pole options. The less expensive garden umbrellas will generally use olefin or polyester fabric. These fabrics are great for the everyday user to protect them against the suns harmful rays. Keeping the fabric away from the weather elements while it is not in use is the best method to preventing premature fading and deterioration. Occasionally using a mild detergent and water to clean the fabric is recommended to keep the canopy looking bright and new! These budget friendly units are also available with a wood, aluminum or fiberglass pole. The wood poles are light weight and have a wonderful visual appeal that is a great option for any buyer. Available in a light wood, dark wood and even a Marenti hardwood! These wood poles generally use a pulley system or manual pushup to raise or lower the canopy.

Also available with an aluminum center pole, these umbrellas are available with a pulley system or crank mechanism. Umbrellas must be closed and opened as described in the manufactures directions. Patio umbrellas without any moving mechanisms will last the longest because there are less moving parts that could stop functioning over time. The manual pushup umbrella should be the longest lasting out of the previously stated options. Making sure your unit is closed and secured with the included straps is vital for improving the life span of the unit preventing any damage caused by the wind of any other variables. The commercial patio umbrellas upgrade fabric is “Sunbrella” fabric. This fabric is absolutely the best quality fabric available, with a wide range of colors to choose from, the Sunbrella fabric is the ultimate choice. The Sunbrella fabric comes with an industry leading 5 Year Warranty! The fabric is made in the U.S.A. and is a great quality fabric. The more expensive umbrellas generally are available with the Sunbrella fabric. These patio umbrellas also have heavier duty hardware and thicker poles making them more durable which will last longer. They are still susceptible to damage caused by wind and other weather elements, so it is still recommended to close and secure the umbrellas when not in use.

6 Plants to Grow in Your Koi Or Fish Pond


Most pond keepers, including myself, would like to keep some plants in their Koi ponds so as to have a pond that looks natural and able to blend with the overall garden. However, Koi and water plants generally do not go well together as Koi eats plants or will likely disturb the soil in which the plants are growing.  Here are 6 plants that I have successfully kept with my Koi. Note that some of these plants originate from South East Asia and requires warm climate to thrive.

The Elephant Ears or Taro (Alocasia Macrorrhiza)

The Elephant Ears or Taro is a plant commonly found in South East Asia. This is a relative large plant with large leaves that grows well in a large pot placed in the shallow parts of a Koi pond, with the pot half or almost fully submerged.  It propagates through small suckers that grow at the side of the large plant. A mature plant can grow to a height of 5 feet or more and have leaves that are more than a few feet in length. It will make a nice specimen or feature plant in the garden or in your Koi pond.

The Elephant Ears can be surrounded with the Creeping Daisy (Wedelia Trilobata) to hid the large pot and soften the overall look. The Creeping Daisy has small yellow flowers and is easily grown by stem cuttings. Just cut and stick them into the wet soil in the pot.  They root easily and further cuttings can then be made and inserted into the pot again. In no time, you have a nice covering of Creeping Daisy with yellow flowers around the large leaves of the Elephant Ears. You could substitute the Creeping Daisy with other suitable creeping plants that thrive in moist soil.

Pandan (pandanus amaryllifolius)

The fragrant pandan plant is commonly found in South East Asia and is a good plant to grow in your Koi pond. It can be grown in soil or in water (hydroponics), hence making it suitable for a Koi pond. The pandan plant grows easily, absorbing the nitrates from the water. The leaves can be harvested every few months. The leaves give off a nice fragrance and are used widely as a flavouring in South East Asian cooking and baking. Believe it or not, its leaves could also be used as a cockroach repellent! No artificial chemical, all natural.

The Dwarf Papyrus (Cyperus Haspen)

The dwarf papyrus plant is not one of my favourites although I have this growing out of a pot that is half submerged in my Koi pond. The reasons are that the matured stems or leaves will droop down into the water as young plants grow out from the cluster of small flower head at the top of stem. Therefore it requires regular trimming to remove the old stems or leaves to keep the plant looking tidy and neat. I think it will look good if grown densely at the sides of a pond, rather than in an isolated pot in my pond.

Umbrella Plant (Cyperus Alternifolius)

The Umbrella Plant is a rush-like aquatic plant with foliage arranged on stems like the ribs of an umbrella. It originates from Madagascar and is very easy to grow in hot, sunny climate. Unlike the small dwarf papyrus, this plant can grow up to 5 feet in height. As this is a large plant, grow them in a large pot that can be submerged or half submerged in the pond.

Water Lilies (Nymphaea)

No garden pond is complete without the water lilies but they are not the best plants for pond with large Koi! The leaves floats on the water surface and the large Koi will chew on them unless they are protected somewhat. Hence, lilies are only suitable for ponds with small Koi. The lilies are best grown in pots placed in the shallow part of a Koi pond. Protect the top of the pots with large stones to prevent the Koi from digging on the soil and messing up the water. My water lilies flower daily under strong sunlight and regular dosage of fertilisers tablets which I stick into the soil. The other problem with water lilies is that the flowers and older leaves will wilt after a few days. If not removed, they will pollute the pond water. Although the Koi will eat them, some debris will inevitably find their way into the pond filter.

Lotus(Nelumbo)

The lotus plant can be grown in pots placed in the shallow part of a Koi pond. Protect the top of the pots with large stones to prevent the large Koi from digging on the soil and messing up the water. The plant has two types of leaves. The leaves of a young lotus plant float on the water surface but the leaves from the older plants grow well above the water surface. The plant produces pink flowers on a long stock above the water. Like water lilies, lotus requires regular feeding with fertilisers to keep it flowering.