Moments of Discovery # 10: a Bubble, a Dome, a Mirror

My sister Janice and I blew up balloons when we were little. Here is a stop-action snap from Aunt Ruthie Longenecker’s 16 millimeter movie film. The balloons were thick, rubbery and multicolored.

MarianJanBalloonBlow copy

We also blew bubbles sitting on the porch swing or standing in the back yard. I don’t have pictures of those, but on one of the walls at Landis Homes, where Aunt Ruthie now lives, an Amish girl is forever blowing bubbles, possibly expressing her wishes and dreams.

Picture displayed in Manheim House, Landis Homes, Lititz, Pennsylvania
Picture displayed in Manheim House, Landis Homes – Lititz, Pennsylvania

On top of a chest of drawers in Aunt Ruthie’s former bedroom sits a terrarium, a bubbly dome, covering butterflies in suspended animation on branches that rise above a blanket of lichen.


Terrariums, popular during Victorian times, usually contain live plants. Moss, ferns, and other flora thrive in the warm humid environment. During short winter days, weak slants of sunlight draw moisture to the top of the dome during the day, which circulates back down to the soil in the evening, creating a hermetic climate. You can read about the history of the terrarium here. The author features dish terrariums, pickle jar and wine glass terrariums, terrariums with waterfalls.

Grandma Fannie Longenecker had terrariums too, a miniature world of green we peered into when the ground was snow white in winter. Some of her glass containers were cookie-jar shaped, crowned with a knobby top. Others were rectangular and covered with a thin pane of glass.

A few ferns, though not in terrariums, still grace the bay windows at Grandma’s house. She never had a TV.


Something else shiny and green I played with upstairs, a little-girl dresser. But now a grown-up girl gazes back at me when I angle the mirror just right.


For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

~ I Corinthians 13:12 NIV

Crista's maidenhair fern under a cloche
Daughter Crista’s maidenhair fern under a cloche, bell-shaped


Your discovery this week may not have been a balloon, a dome, or a mirror. It may have been something else. Inquiring minds want to know!


Coming next: Any Hats in Your History?


45 thoughts on “Moments of Discovery # 10: a Bubble, a Dome, a Mirror

  1. Good morning, Marian! Interesting post.
    There is something magical about blowing bubbles, isn’t there? It’s sort of meditative watching the bubbles rise and burst. It’s strange about that mirror of yours. 🙂
    I once received a little terrarium as a “secret Santa” gift when I was in college. It was between the girls’ side of the floor and the boys’ side in my dorm that year. It was a nice gift, I thought. I don’t know what happened to it.

    My discovery today will be if we love the furniture we bought, the living room sofa and chair. It’s FINALLY being delivered today. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll stand by for your nod of approval when the furniture comes through the front door. Maybe your can post it on Facebook?

      Of course, I approve your smiling face first thing every Wednesday morning. Thank you, Merril. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that unusual and fanciful “little girl dresser.” So, do you still own it? Was this to use as a girl?

    My discovery this week? My dog sticks with me throughout the house (has to know where I am) because, canines being “pack animals,” she thinks I’m a dog like her and that we have to stick together. Random I know, but it helps me understand why she gets up from her little comfy bed and moves to another part of the house, settles, and then gets up again as I move back to the bedroom or study. 🙂 And I’d rather she just stay put. You asked for it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The little dresser (about 3-feet high from floor to surface, not including mirror) is in my Aunt Ruthie’s house. I’m certain she played with it as a child, and so did we. It’s still officially hers, not mine.

      Thank you for the anecdote about your dog. Many years from now, when you are a very old woman you may find this behavior comforting rather than annoying. Just a thought! 😉


  3. This is lovely read Marian thank you! Your explanation of the weak sun slants drawing moisture to the top which goes down again and waters the soil is beautiful, and is indeed hermetic. A terrarium – I think will seek one out … 🙂

    I’ve noted to get some bubbles and take them to school for my 2 little pupils who I assist in reading … perhaps before we begin each class we can blow bubbles and have a little science class thrown in. Bubbles are magic – thank you for your unplanned prompt to me!

    Thank you for the Corinthian verse – I am going to copy and send it to my email where I have a special folder for such gems ..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so thrilled that you adapt what you find here in your unique way. I love to think of bubbles blowing in the breeze in Johannesburg inspiring your students. And unlike bubbles, this verse of scripture is not ephemeral, but a divine promise.

      Your comment is cheering. Thank you, Susan.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that old dresser.I had one in my bedroom as a young girl. It had been brought over from south Russia with my great grandparents. It was originally oak but had been painted over many times. I painted it a soft pink. It got left in a garage during one of my many moves as a young adult. I still feel bad that I didn´t take better care of it. Terrariums have always fascinated me. I discovered new blossoms on plants I potted a week ago. Made me very happy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand your regret about the dresser. Aunt Ruthie gave me a very nice watch which I didn’t take care of – it probably got lost during my teenage years; I feel a sad twinge every time I think of it.

      So you have a terrarium in Spain? I’m guessing you had one when you lived in Canada too, something green nurturing you during the long days of winter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Although they have always fascinated me, I have never had a terrarium of my own! I had many indoor plants in Canada which kept me happy in the winter months. in Spain all my plants are outside as they can grow all year!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. There’s something magical about a scene captured under glass. Even if it is plastic. Little Owen received a gift of sea creatures to make little domed seascapes with water and seaweed. He and two friends each chose their scenes, filled the domes with water, and “voila!” brought the ocean (and their memories of being at the beach) into their bedrooms. Each generation finds ways to light up the imagination and preserve one season into another.

    Your way of linking these events makes me smile, Marian. I know you are still honing skills of teaching and mothering. Your dream jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard to keep up with you my peripatetic, philosopher friend. I think you have been filled with wonder surrounded by grandchildren recently as little Owen turned five. I agree, scenes under glass are magical. Sarah made a snow globe capturing the images of Curtis and Ian, forever young in 2011. I smile when I hear Curtis speak with his deep bass voice and see a prominent “mustache” coming on.

      Your dream jobs are expanding into something wonderful too. No need for another memoir: You are thriving in your new niche.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely memories, again. I love that little dresser and mirror!

    I kept a terrarium for many years and plants were very successful. I remember using it as a propagater , as I used to cut shoots from plants that grew too tall and create new ones! Must look into getting one again. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s not a bad idea at all! I’ve seen lots of motorhomers carrying theirown plants, and we did too one year, but the heat in France didn’t agree with our British geraniums and the leaves dried up very quickly.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. What a beautiful dresser, Marian. I love the little chicks. On Monday, I was blessed to spot our first hummingbird of the season. Unfortunately he didn’t stick around since we haven’t put out the feeders. I love them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you put out the feeders, magic will happen, I suspect, Jill. Once we had a hummingbird come to our porch, but after awhile the bird didn’t return. Now I don’t know what happened to the feeder. Hummingbirds are so dainty and beautiful, symbolic of joy to me.

      I don’t know how long the little chicks have been sitting on that dresser. Aunt Ruthie probably put them there years and years ago. I’m glad you noticed them, a little pop of spring.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You have to make sure the nectar is really sweet. It will get diluted from the rain and sun. We typically change ours every three days. Our activity was amazing last year, so I’m hoping for a repeat performance. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Marian — I always enjoy reading your reflections of yesteryear. The fact that you additionally weave photographs into the tapestry serves to heighten the experience.

    I remember learning how to blow bubbles with Bazooka bubble gum. The hardest part was chewing, and chewing, and chewing to get those hard little powder-covered pink blocks to soften up—I’m surprised they didn’t yank me teeth out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess if I had to declare a brand, it would have to be nostalgia. I’m glad you enjoy my trips back in time.

      Yes, I do remember those large, hard marbles of Bazooka gum (Yikes!) and remember how they tasted too.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Marian, I love these sojourns into the past, complete with photos. The picture of your grandma’s dining room with those gorgeous windows and plants took me back to my own grandma’s dining room. And I love the child’s dresser and dome, all preserved so beautifully. My discovery this week and only because I decided to declutter my office.. I found a cherished photo of my son as a 10 year old, hanging out in a maple tree with his baseball hat askew. I’d been looking for it to no avail. I felt like I found a treasure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You found pure gold – and all the more gleamy because it was unexpected.

      I made another discovery today too. As I was looking for my “retirement” scrapbook in my cluttered office, I found a whole bunch of school stuff (textbooks, lesson plans and folders) that I could dispose of. Some will go to Angel Aid Charity and some into the recycling bin. Eventually, I found what I was looking for, but only after I lightened the load on my bookshelves. Ah, the “un-bearable lightness of being”!

      I’m guessing you may frame the photo you found and give it to your son one day. Thank you for sharing the anecdote of an important discovery, Kathy.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Such lovely memories of your family , thank you so much for sharing them.
    I have been staying with MY lovely sister Janice (Jan) and lovely brother-in -law John ( I can’t miss him out he’d sulk😉 And I have discovered how much we are alike . I have always believed, although we love each other, our personalities and tastes are different but as we’ve ‘matured’ (not aged😉) she has become a little like me and I’ve become a little like her …so we have even more in common …amazing had great time but going home today sadly 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree – some sort of alchemy happens as we age, and siblings get more or less alike in values and tastes. That’s true of my own sister Janice (Jan). You have such an interesting writing style. I know I’ll always smile when I read your comments. Thanks, Cherry!


  11. Marian, this is such a colorful, happy and homespun post. Wonderful! I think my time with my grandmother, and the plants and accents in her house, were very similar to your time with your Aunt Ruthie. Your pictures and words whisked me down memory lane for a double dose of smiles. Thank you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that you got whisked down memory lane with this homespun reflection. Oh, the power of the write words. (I’m not changing that Freudian slip back to “right.”)

      You know, I think we lived in parallel universes back when we were young. At least the values we were taught were very similar. Thanks always for your unique take on the topic.


  12. My Christmas cactus that I received many years ago is blooming pink blossoms. It was given to me by a guest attending our Thanksgiving dinner st the time. It blooms several times a year. If Easter had not been so early this year it would be blooming for that celebration this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My Christmas cactus didn’t re-bloom this year. Maybe 1-2 flowers are all that materialized a few months ago. When I re-potted it, I think I added too much soil and too high in the pot, maybe choking the poor thing.

      I’m glad you are blessed with blooms in more than one season. So cheery! Thanks, Athanasia.


  13. Lovely post, Marian! Obviously lots of sweet memories for you. The plant picture made me think of my orchid. I got it for my birthday last year, when it was in full bloom. It continued blooming for months. After it stopped I decided I wanted to try to get it to bloom again. I bought a book on orchid care and gave it my best shot. My orchid must have loved what I was doing; it now has, not one, but two new shoots. Two sprays of flowers soon!! I can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome, Linda, so happy to see your sun-flower image here along with an up-lifting comment. I’m so pleased pleased that your orchid has re-bloomed. I have never had much luck with orchids re-blooming even though my daughter taught me where to trip the stem for re-growth. However, lately two of my orchids, one white and another red-violet have decided to bloom again. Like you soon, I’m enjoying two new sprays of flowers. Thank you, also, for following my blog today. I’m glad we have this connection.


    1. I’m glad this post inspired growth in another direction. I never had a terrarium, but Grandma did and so does my daughter. I look forward to seeing what you (and Sage?) create. I do see a blog post about this project down the line. Ha!


  14. Marian, thank you for sharing more beautiful images and memories. I’ll always think of Aunt Ruthie on her riding lawnmower. Bubble and balloon blowing are nearly a universal part of childhood (at least in this country) for a few generations back. The Corinthian verse becomes ever more meaningful as I grow older–like many things.

    I discovered just how tough crocus and daffodils are when packed away in a little snow. It’s not unusual for the temperature to dip into low 30s here in April, but it was 17 degrees a few nights ago after four or five inches of snow. Our maddening April snow melted today and most of the flowers are undamaged. I’m going outside to discover the fate of the buds on the magnolias and other blossoming trees and shrubs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, the persistence of nature. Spring flowers are tough. I guess I’ll check your Facebook pages to see the magnolia buds. Hardy varieties will make it through unscathed, my hope for you.

      This week I’ve seen varied images of you: face set like a flint on the tractor, pumping iron on workout equipment, and then ministering healing on your blog. The many faces of Eve is no myth in your case. Thanks for being you, Elaine!


  15. Lovely momentums and moments shared here Marian. I loved bubbles and currently have a lovely terrarium my niece gave me as a housewarming gift last year.
    As for discoveries . . . I’ve finally got to the bottom of my husband’s mysterious illness. I’ll be posting next week. 🙂 Wishing you a happy weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You have persisted, dear woman. You didn’t seem at all absent from the cyber world in spite of our husband’s “mysterious illness.” But, like me, your online connections often relieve stress, knowing friends there have a sympathetic ear.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I love these rambles through memories, the things that knit us with our past experiences and the souls who peopled our lives. They’re so rich with personal history. Even though the memories are different, I can’t help being pulled into the nostalgia. Lovely post, Marian.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My Grandma & Aunt Ruthie’s house is one of the anchor points in my memoir. If I have a brand at this stage, I’d name it nostalgia. I’m glad you can relate to the sensation – and so happy we made a connection here.


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