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?