Sensory Overload

Marilyn Monroe is said to have experienced it …

Marilyn Monroe from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Have you?

That is, have you tasted green?

Or smelled peach?


Not the fruits, mind you, but the COLORS.

The sensory overlap of taste, smell, and vision is known as “synesthesia,” which Wikipedia defines as “a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.”

Translation: turquoise blue might seem to smell something like peppermint, and pale yellow could trigger taste buds to sense banana.

“Each sense has a pathway to the brain. These paths are parallel to each other. However, in some situations, a crossover from one pathway to the other occurs,” explains “Seeing the color yellow-green may evoke taste sensations of sourness; pink may evoke sweetness. Seeing the color gray may evoke olfactory sensations of smokiness.”

Synesthesia has been described as an uncommon phenomenon, but is it really all that rare?

Here’s a simple little experiment to test your own reactions. When you look at the following images of richly colored gems, do your taste buds sense sweetness or tickle with tang? Do you associate each with a particular flavor or fragrance?

Photo by Fiona Storey via Wikimedia Commons

“Color psychologists have long known that our favorite colors tell a lot about us. They’re a manifestation of our emotions and moods, and the colors we prefer also allow conclusions to be drawn about our fragrance preferences,” reports Leffingwell & Associates, an information and service provider to flavor and fragrance industries. “A woman who picks the color combination of yellow, orange, red, and pale green, for example, is not only extroverted, active, optimistic, and positive—she’ll also tend to prefer fresh-floral fragrances.”

I’m guessing that a gal’s palette preference also varies with the day, the season, and so on. As the sun streams through my window this morning, my soul is aglow in a rich shade of yellow—amber, to be precise—and I can’t help but think of honey, mmmm …

Photo by Hashoo Foundation USA – Houston, TX via Flickr

Your turn—what colors are you feeling/smelling/tasting today?

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    When I look at the colored stones, I have several associations. One is jelly belly beans. However, I don’t seem to have an automatic taste association. Does that make me weird?

  2. Karlyne says:

    Didn’t get anything from the rocks, but then I don’t like jelly beans. How abnormal is that?!? But, the honey picture? Now that made me taste honey! With yellow butter…

  3. bonnie ellis says:

    I love the turquoise color. It reminds me of blue raspberry popsicles. I must be thinking of food today. Pink reminds me of the smell of roses and orange, mandarin orange soap. Maybe I am weird too.

  4. Em says:

    I did a science fair project on Color Psychology (especially as it relates to design) when I was in high school back in the late 1980s! I was excited to read your post as no one seems to discuss this much. I don’t even recall it being part of an environmental psychology-style class I took in college as a architecture student.

    This morning, my backyard was shady and green. My little garden is very green without many blossoms at the moment. It “tasted” like sugar snap peas to me.

  5. Genevieve says:

    your rocks made me taste cinnamon (red), and metal (silver)…. wow, that’s sooo cool!!

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Why is one of the main ingredients in my toothpaste also one of the three things that were so precious in ancient times that they were gifted by the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus at his birth?

Myrrh … even the word sounds soothing. Kind of like purr(h) …

Myrrh is the aromatic resin of several small, thorny trees in the genus Commiphora. And soothing it is. It was once used as a treatment for toothaches, and now appears in toothpaste for its anti-microbial, anti-viral, astringent, and antiseptic qualities.


Photo by Alsterdrache via Wikimedia Commons

But why a precious gift? Even though myrrh was mentioned in the Old Testament as a rare perfume with intoxicating qualities, its role as one of the three gifts isn’t as clear as that of gold, a precious metal and valuable commodity, and frankincense, another resin that was often burned as an offering in worship. Myrrh was also a component of holy incense and was used as a anointing oil, and all three of the gifts were standard offerings to honor a king or deity in the ancient world.

But frankincense and myrrh’s powerful herbal healing properties could also have had a role in their choice as precious gifts. Frankincense and myrrh both have proven antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and were once considered remedies for everything from toothaches to chronic coughs to indigestion to hemorrhoids to leprosy. Myrrh was commonly carried into the battlefield to treat wounds by the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, mentioned myrrh more frequently than any other plant substance in his writings.

Today, both frankincense and myrrh are commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and aromatherapy. Myrrh is used as a natural remedy for treating a variety of ailments, including skin conditions, congestion, asthma, indigestion, ulcers, and joint pain. It’s also known to protect against liver damage and has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and to lower cholesterol. Many natural toothpastes contain myrrh to soothe irritated gums, mouth, and throat; to fight plaque; and to promote healing.


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Now, this was a great morning science discovery! I never knew about all of the medicinal properties of Myrrh. I guess they would grind into a powder and then make a paste for external application or add the powder to liquid to drink? My questions would be what is the therapeutic amount needed for any problem. And what, if any, would be a toxic amount? Was it safe for children? I guess it is back to laboratory for more probing!

  2. Birdie Cutair says:

    I never knew myrrh was in toothpaste. Interesting! Thanks for the posting.

  3. Karlyne says:

    Makes me want to run right out and buy some for my purse!

  4. bonnie ellis says:

    I have some that I share with Sunday School students at Christmas time but I surely didn’t know all that. What interesting information.

  5. Darlene Ricotta says:

    Thanks I had no idea what else it is used for.


  6. Kari says:

    Our local herb shop carries ‘myrrh tears’ or the hard resin nuggets. During the harsh influenza season this past winter, my husband would use a myrrh tear just as any other cough drop and that did the trick against the wracking cough of bronchitis.

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What’s Rosie thinking?

Put on your comedic thinking cap.

This’ll be fun.

I ran across a fabulous photo called “Rosie with a lollipop and polka-dot bandana.”

Needless to say, if you’ve already peeked, the portrait begs for a caption,

and you’re just the jester for the job.

So, give it a whirl—what IS Rosie thinking?

Photo by MollyPop via Wikimedia Commons

Include your caption in the comments, below.

I can’t wait to read the silly things that feisty little farmgirl might be sayin’ …

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Why is she calling me again?? I already did that! OR

    Grandpa, is that really true or are you just fooling’ me!

  2. Cindi says:

    “The washing is done, the clothes are on the line and the ironing is ready to go ~ I really don’t care how many calories are in this lollipop!”

    Oh my gosh she is precious! I had a dream once that I had red hair just like that ~ it was a wonderful dream!

  3. Karlyne says:

    “Yes, I am the head of the lollipop gang. What’s it to ya?”

  4. Susan Musgrave says:

    “Do I have to!”

  5. Chrissy says:

    “You have that camera in my face again?”

  6. Dawn Hernandez says:

    “Just try it Buster, just you try it.”

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Selfies from the 1950s

One of the many benefits of living near two state universities is the steady flow of art and culture they bring to the geographical area I call home. Recently, I had the pleasure of a free afternoon in which I found myself wandering among a poignant collection of work by street photographer Vivian Maier that was on display at the Washington State University Museum of Art. I was really struck by the candid nature of her photos, and when I returned home, I did a little more research on this fascinating woman.

Man with mirror

Man with mirror via

I love the thought of Vivian Maier wandering in 1950s New York City, camera in hand, capturing ordinary life for five solid decades. And I am truly fascinated by the number of “selfies” she took, celebrating her unique character at a time in our history when that type of behavior was often considered “unladylike.” She certainly couldn’t hold her Rolleiflex camera out at arm’s length like we do today, so she had to capture her reflection, which in turn, often captured unintentional snippets of life in the background.

self portrait via

I found some of my favorites from the gallery at It’s worth some time to browse her story and portfolios and get to know her a little better.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I love her photographic “eye” for images of life that tell a story. What a great selfie she took back in the day!

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let’s celebrate!

Yep, today’s m’birthday. The big 62. Big deal. Not. At this point, all my birthdays seems the same. I’m permanently stuck in time. I could be 50 for all I know. Or 68.

Here on the farm, we get to double-celebrate, because it’s my magazine designer, Carol’s, birthday too. We were born just three years apart on the very same day, and over the years, we’ve seen plenty of parallels in our personalities. Maybe there’s something to that astrology thing, after all.

I’m simply celebrating the day by taking the girls who work here (and Winnie, our Farmgirl Sister of the Year, who’s here for our Farmgirl Jubilee celebration) out to lunch, then spending quiet time with my family in the evening, but I thought it would be fun to find out how people have celebrated their birthdays over the ages and around the world.

Did you know …

• In ancient times, only kings had birthday celebrations.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee via Wikimedia Commons

• When you turn the age of your day of birth (if you’re born on the 6th, it would be when you turn 6), that’s called your Golden Birthday, Lucky Birthday, Grand Birthday, or Star Birthday.

• If you’re Chinese and you’re born on the same day as me, you’re a year older than me! The Chinese count your first year, which we don’t in the Western world. A newborn baby’s age is 1; at the end of their first year (12 months old), they’re 2. Glad I’m not Chinese today … just sayin’.

• The tradition of having a party on your birthday started because of a superstition that evil spirits were especially attracted to a person on their birthday, so the person’s family and friends would gather to protect the person with good wishes, festivity, and presents.


Photo, Sharon Pruitt via Wikimedia Commons

• If you’re Vietnamese, you’ll celebrate your birthday with every other person in Vietnam on Vietnamese New Year, or Tet, “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day,” in January or February.

• If you’re Hungarian, instead of getting birthday spankings, you get your earlobes pulled! The “puller” then wishes you well with the saying, “God bless you; live so long so your ears reach your ankles.”


Photo, C. Flynn via Wikimedia Commons

• Koreans celebrate a person’s 60th birthday with a special celebration called hwangap. They believe that 60 is an auspicious year, the year when the Korean zodiac has completed its 60-year cycle. In ancient times, it was also uncommon for a person to live to the ripe old age of 60, so double reason for a celebration! Hwangap is now celebrated on a person’s 70th birthday.

• And the largest birthday celebration in the U.S.? No, not Mariah Carey, who’s known for her over-the-top love of holidays. It’s not even for a living person, and it’s not even held in the town of their birth. It’s for good, old George Washington, in Laredo, Texas, and the celebration started nearly 100 years after his death. The month-long celebration is now held every year in February and attracts over 400,000 celebrants to balls, festivals, parades, concerts, fireworks, and more.


Photo, Shin-改 T via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not in Texas or Hungary, and I hope to celebrate my hwangap a few years down the road.

  1. terry steinmetz says:

    MaryJane; Happy birthday… happy birthday…happy, happy birthday to YOU! May you celebrate with all those you love & hold dear. And may your coming year bring you joy, happiness, and special memories!

    • MaryJane says:

      Can you believe our dear Winnie is here? Right here with me? How about that for a b-day present? We enjoyed a campfire dinner together last night.

  2. Cathy R says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY dear MaryJane! Thank you for your very interesting blog posts each morning! So entertaining and informative, plus your pictures are always lovely! May your day be filled with the fireworks of family and friends celebrating you! Heavenly blessings from the hills of Orofino!

    • MaryJane says:

      Always love hearing from Orofino, my old stomping grounds. Weippe, Pierce, love those towns. Good memories. Hubby and I camped along Orofino Creek a few years ago and toured the Pierce/Bradbury museum.

  3. Karlyne says:

    Have a happy birthday, MaryJane, and a superb visit with Winnie!

  4. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Happy Birthday Wishes Mary Jane!! I am so delighted to be here at your farm and celebrating this Jubilee and day with you and your family and friends. It is my birthday, Christmas, and all time present to visit here on the beautiful Palouse and Miss Daisy right across from me to keep me company at mt bunkhouse. Sometimes wishes do come true!!

  5. Cindi says:

    Huge happy birthday to you!! and please pass birthday wishes on to Carol as well!!! My mother had some notable moments of wisdom over the years and one of her very, very, very best was that some birthdays you just have to look at backwards ~ So… enjoy your 26th birthday to the fullest!!

  6. Molly Welsh says:

    Happy Natal Day MaryJane.

  7. Connie-Killarney says:

    Happy Birthday! Mary Jane!

    Winnie , you lucky Girl!!

  8. Darlene Ricotta says:

    Happy Birthday to you Mary Jane and thanks so much for starting the Farm, It is awesome and a great place to be.

    Hope your day was great.


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What personality type are you?

Here’s a fun little personality test you can take online. Understanding your basic nature can “help you learn how to use your strengths, increase your self-confidence, improve your relationships, and discover your ideal career and personal development paths.” has developed a test using both Jungian theories and modern developments to help you do just that.

Jan Braet von Überfeld. Portrait of a young woman with Bible, 1866 via Wikimedia Commons

The survey is based on five personality aspects that, when combined, define the personality type: mind (how we interact with other people), energy (how we see the world and process information), nature (how we make decisions and cope with emotions), tactics (our approach to work, planning and decision-making), and identity (how confident we are in our abilities and decisions). Within those aspects, you rate on a percentage scale how strong your preferences are between the two opposites of the aspects:

mind: extraverted (that’s how the test creators spell extroverted) or introverted
energy: intuitive or observant
nature: thinking or feeling
tactics: judging or prospecting
identity: assertive or turbulent

At the end, you’ll find that you fall within one of the four major personality types: analysts, diplomats, sentinels, and explorers; and based on your ratings, you’ll find variations within those types (for example, within diplomats, there are advocates, mediators, protagonists, and campaigners).

After taking the free, 10-minute test and finding your results, you might be so intrigued that you’ll want a custom “premium profile,” 100 pages long, costing about $33.

Put your thinking cap on, your feet up, and delve into the depths of your psyche for some lighthearted, thought-provoking prospecting.

  1. Karlyne says:

    I had to quickly take this, and I was surprised to find that it came out the same as a longer, more detailed test I took a couple of years ago after getting interested in personality types. I think it really helps to “know thyself” when you’re making decisions and just living life! Thanks for the fun!

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In our 21st century world, plastic is everywhere, especially plastic bottles with the widely-known abbreviation of PET. PET refers to polyethylene terephthalate, a substance found in nearly 80% of the bottles on Earth. Polyethylene terephthalate is derived from oil and does not degrade in nature, and PET bottles are quickly becoming the mascot for the pollution that’s clogging the world’s landscapes and oceans. Since PET won’t decompose, the bottles have to be collected and recycled.

This overabundance of plastic bottles has turned out to be a goldmine for Czech artist Veronika Richterová. She uses PET bottles to create whimsical sculptures, which she has dubbed PET-ART. She’s been at it since 2004, when she learned that heated plastic became very malleable and could be easily molded and sculpted.





In addition to creating phenomenal works of beauty, Veronika and her partner, Michal Cihlář, systematically gathered information about PET bottles and published it in an article on her website called “A Tribute to PET Bottles.” They’ve also built a collection of more than 3,000 PET bottles from 76 countries. The duo photographs “popular” PET-ART by “anonymous creative individuals” who use old PET bottles in ingenious ways and then use the photos to inspire viewers to reconsider the waste they put into the environment and find creative, new uses for their discarded items. Her online gallery is also full of hundreds of her fantastic plastic creations.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Wow, what a creative artist and such a clever way to bring attention to the Ecological impact of plastic water bottles on our Earth!

  2. Cindi says:

    Oh I love the cactus! That’s pure genius 🙂

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