Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Z is for Zebra, Zither, Zipper and other Z-words

It's Tuesday July 13th and time to link up with Mrs. Denise Nesbitt's abc Wednesday, Round 6 and Mrs. Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday for the last time for this round as we have arrived at the very last letter of the English alphabet, the letter 'Z'. This week, I am not going to write a poem to the letter 'Z'. But even my little picture-book of Z-words needs some explanation.

My first Z-word is 'Zebra'. (See Wikipedia's English-language article on Zebras here.)

I didn't even need to go to Wikipedia to find out what a Zebra looks like. I just asked my children and they had a tiny puzzel that was inside of a chocolate egg.

I can't explain it. But they are often doing things that fit right in with these alphabet-memes! The little puzzle was a picture of some Zebras!

Wasn't that fun? Once you start looking you find little zebras all over the place! Just ask my cat Sara who has the same colours as a zebra:

She found this zebra by a patch of wild strawberries:

I hope you all know what wild strawberries are. They are very tasty! This is what they look like close up:

You may be wondering when I am going to show some pieces of jewellery or jewellery-making supplies that begin with the letter 'Z'. Unfortunately, I have not been able to make a connection with the main theme of this blog, and the letter 'Z'. Turbulence in my 'offline-life' this past week has put a damper on my blogging plans. I wasn't sure I would be able to do this last letter at all.

'Zoo' and 'Zoology' are wonderful 'Z'-words. Doing jewellery on an animal theme and calling it 'Zoological-Adornments' or 'Zoo-Jewellery' would have been a fun idea for this post. What if you made jewellery that had the playfulness of children's toys? Look at this brand of 'zoology' , 'Noah's ark'.

I have not made this, but it would be fun to make jewellery for grown-ups that was as happy and playful as this children's necklace with a cat-motif:

Another theme that seems to run like a red thread through this blog, is the search for 'Swedish-ness' or just talking about Swedish or Scandinavian history or traditions. I am proud to say that I have succeeded in getting several meme-participants to confess their roots! I have uncovered 'Closet-Swedes' (Americans of Swedish descent), and 'Closet-Scandinavians'! So far, I have mentioned the fairly new Swedish national holiday on June 6th, but neglected to write anything about traditions connected with the second biggest holiday in Sweden, Midsommar, which is celebrated around the time of the summer solstice, June 21st (usually around June 24-26th to put it on a Saturday). I can recommend Jealousy Jewelry & Design's post about Swedish Midsummer traditions, especially when it comes to food.

What does this have to do with the letter 'Z'? Well, let's stick with the subject Sweden/Swedes and look at the work of a couple of Swedish-born inventors in America who helped develop a very useful everyday product that starts with 'Z': The Zipper! According to Wikipedia, Peter A. Aronsson and especially Gideon Sundback (1880 – 1954) helped develop the zipper:
In 1914 Sundback developed a version based on interlocking teeth, the "Hookless No. 2", which was the modern metal zipper in all its essentials. In this fastener each tooth is punched to have a dimple on its bottom and a nib or conical projection on its top. The nib atop one tooth engages in the matching dimple in the bottom of the tooth that follows it on the other side as the two strips of teeth are brought together through the two Y channels of the slider. The teeth are crimped tightly to a strong fabric cord that is the selvage edge of the cloth tape that attaches the zipper to the garment, with the teeth on one side offset by half a tooth's height from those on the other side's tape. They are held so tightly to the cord and tape that once meshed there is not enough play to let them pull apart. A tooth cannot rise up off the nib below it enough to break free, and its nib on top cannot drop out of the dimple in the tooth above it. United States patent no. 1219881 for the "Separable Fastener" was issued in 1917.[3]
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Today most zippers are made in Asia (90% in Japan). But during a period of 57 years 1931 to 1988, zippers were made in Gusum, a town not too far from where we live in Norrkoping.
Learning a lesson from a mistake that I made doing the letter 'X', by not mentioning the Xylophone, I don't want to overlook a musical instrument, like the 'Zither'. Many think of the soundtrack with 'The Harry Lime Theme' from the 1949 film The Third Man, with the music played by Anton Karas.

Why the 'Zither' came to my mind is because my parents gave me a Zither when I was a child. You could slip the sheets of music under the strings and see how to play melodies by picking with a plectrum. I have no idea where my Zither is now. I imagine that it was given away at some point in my childhood, but I don't know exactly when. I wish I had it today. I have no photo of my own Zither, even if I remember clearly exactly what it looked like. So here is a picture of a Zither from Wikipedia:


One of my Z-words is the letter 'Z' itself, or 'Z' as an initial. The buzzing sound that you can make when you speak English and say the word 'jazz', does not exist in the Swedish set of consonant sounds. But the letter 'Z' is still a part of the Swedish alphabet, just as the letters 'C','Q' and 'W', which are letters that don't really belong there.

This is a photo of a clothes-pin with the letter 'Z' stamped into it. My maternal grandmother said that her mother stamped a 'Z' on her clothes-pins to show that they were hers and not some other woman's. She chose the letter 'Z' because it was so unusual, in spite of that fact that her name was Anna Andersson, one of the most common names in Sweden at that time. So here, 'Z' was used as an initial to mark ownership, by a person, my great grandmother, whose real initial 'A', was too common to serve that purpose.

There is often a myriad of questions you wish you had asked your older relatives while there still was time. But instead of lamenting those unasked questions, I am happy that I know why there is a 'Z' on this clothes-pin. I used to have lots of these clothes pins with the letter 'Z', but they seem to have disappeared. I found this particular clothes-pin hidden in a special travel-pouch. It is my very last clothes-pin with a 'Z' stamped on it. I have other clothes-pins that could be as old as this one, looking at the wire-gauge and quality of the wood used, but this one is the last one that has her mark on it.
My maternal grandmother told me about her mother's 'Z'-mark on her clothes-pins, and I believe her, because she was a very honest person.
The letter 'Z' marks the end of an interesting journey together with a band of fun and inspiring, but very different individuals. Thanks to all participating in these two wonderful Alphabet-memes, and a very special thanks to all who have taken the time to visit my blog and leave comments on my posts.

Be kind!
Wishing everyone a happy and healthy summer!
Hugs from Anna

First commenter:
Sylvia From Over the Hill

Jenny      Matlock

For more Z-words at Mrs. Nesbitt's abcWednesday please click here.
For more Z-words at Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday please click here.


Sylvia K said...

What a delightful array of Z words for the day! And I love the zebra! Marvelous, colorful post! Hope your week is going well, Anna! Enjoy!


photowannabe said...

Hope things get to be better in your life. Sorry for your difficulties.
Its very interesting about the clothes pins stamped with the initial.
Just to let you know...I am a "closet Swede". Both sets of Grandparents came from Sweden but I know very little about them. They have been gone for many years.

Ratty said...

I like zebras. Zebra is a word I like a lot. There is just something fun about saying zebra. And the stripey look of the animal looks makes it even more fun. Such a good animal.

Mara said...

I loved your little zebra. At least I hope it's little, otherwise your cat is humongous!

For another Z related to your Sweden theme: the Dutch name for Sweden is (drumroll) Zweden! So, you had more Z's in your post than you thought you had...

Jen said...

ZOINKS that's a lot of Z's! Of course we like the zebras best (country cousins don'tcha know :o) I just love the clothespin - that would be something I would put in a curio or small shadowbox for safekeeping. You could write why your great grandmother did that on a small card (a piece of parchment paper would be neat) and clip it to the clothespin. Things like that - to me anyway - are priceless little treasures from the past. Fun post!

Roger Owen Green said...

An eclectic set of Zs. hope you come back soon; we'll be back to A next week!

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Anna said...

Sylvia K Thanks for visiting, Sylvia. You are first commenter and get an extra link!
photowannabe Thank you for thinking of my difficulties when I wrote this post. I was up until four a.m. because I did not want to get too far down the list. Silly, wasn't it? But a good night's or morning's sleep really helps. I feel better today.
Another closet-Swede!!! Hooray! Yippee!! I think I am going to start a special blog roll for these sites. Keep in touch. By next week I'll have your blog on my 'Closet-Swede-blog-roll'!


Ratty Oh, Ratty, thanks for stopping by! Yes, I agree. Zebras are wonderful animals. Really pretty too. Love the stripes too! Sara Cat tried to convince me that she is a 'zebra-cat' with stripes that are very far apart!
I'm glad that I found you, Ratty! Have you noticed that I have recently put you blog on my EC-blog-list?


Jen Oh Jen! Don't you know that I am a frustrated horsewoman?? I read your blog and dream, because I never got to take riding lessons when I was a child!
Yes, zebras are just stripey horses, aren't they??? On Wikipedia there a story about someone breaking a zebra in and getting it to pull a wagon. They are probably easier to ride than a moose!
Good suggestion what to do with my great-grandmother's last clothes-pin. A shadow-box, a wooden frame with glass! I'll do it!!
Mara Dear Mara! Thank you for that extra 'Z'!! Zweden! Zweden! Zweden!!!

There are already loads of Dutch or Plattdeutsch loan-words in the Swedish language. So one more can't hurt!

(These loan words are often about the sea, the weather and about tools and crafts. But even a simple everyday word like the garment 'vest' is actually borrowed from the Netherlands. The indigenous word for a sort of 'waitcoat' would be 'livstycke'. Within Linguistics, these words are called 'hemtama', that is 'easy-to-borrow', 'tame' loan-words' because the two languages themselves are distant cousins.)
I love Holland! How can you not like a country that grows and exports all of those beautiful tulips!! Sigh! And then there is all of those painters... Art history without the Dutch painters??? No way!

My cat, Sara is little. She is ten years old, but still looks like a kitten.


Roger Owen Green Oh no!!!! Is there no rest for the weary?? I thought we were going to take an alphabet-break???
Oh well... So be it. The 'A-words' next week!! Yeah...I'll see you then!


All kidding aside, big hugs to you nice folks. Thank you for stopping by so early and leaving your thoughts. I feel much better today thanks to you all!


anthonynorth said...

Some great Zs. That zebra gets everywhere :-)

Mar said...

What a wonderful, informative and fun post for Z!! love the toy zebra and your stories.
BTW, you must have mistaken me, I have more than 1,000 posts and ONE (maybe two) cat picture(s), lol!
Happy Wednesday!!

Tumblewords: said...

A largesse of z's - what fun it is!

Gayle said...

How interesting about the close pins. What a treasure. The zebra in the puzzle does not look like a happy fellow!

LisaF said...

Such a great eclectic mix of Z words! I love all the different zebra representations. Yes...see you next week.

Russ said...

I just love the Zebra's. They are so cool. And your grandmothers clothes pins are just the coolest thing.

Ann said...

You made me hungry for strawberries with the zebra sitting by the wild ones.
My grandmother worked for years for a company that manufactured zippers.

Very interesting about the z on the clothespin. Nice memento of your grandmother

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love all the zebras. The wooden necklace is so pretty.

lissa said...

cute zebra doll and I didn't thought of zippers until mention them

Lin said...

Oh my gosh, you have a lot to say about the letter "Z"!!! Love Sara Cat in the garden--she is lovely.

Viki said...

Very, very interesting post this week. I loved the zebra puzzle how cute is that. How neat that you still have one of your grandmother's clothespins with the Z on it. I loved all your z words. I also want to thank you for all your posts on jewelry making, I've learned a lot over all these weeks. I hope things get better for you.

Christy said...

wonderful post...i am envious of your strawberry patch...ours refuses to take off!

Cheryl D. said...

Cool Z words!

jen said...

I love those clothespins. I'd love to have some in my clothespin jar. Lucky you.
Can I make a suggestion? It takes almost 90 seconds for your entire blog to download. I'd visit more often if you could speed that up. Have a little ADD problem over here!
Have a great week!

Mary said...

I'm glad we had can thank the Swedes for zippers! Love your story about the clothes pin :-)

mrsnesbitt said...

A wonderful collection - well done you! The wild strawberries mmmmm My neighbours have been away on holiday for 2 weeks and I hve been looking after their garden where they have strawberries mmmmm yes, I had to taste some - every day! lol!
Thanks so much - hope to see you in Round 7!
ABC Team

Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

what a wonderful world of Zs here - I especially like the little zebras.

Alesa Warcan said...

Zounds! A fitting ending post for you impressive run through the alphabet! Ever a pleasure reading your posts. : j

Nora Johnson said...

So many wonderful ‘Z’s – pure infotainment! Especially love the pic of Sara & the tiny zebra!

It’s been great meeting like this over the past 26 weeks!

Happy Alphabe-Thursday,


PS Mine this time is HERE. Hope you can join me!

RNSANE said...

Anna, I enjoyed today's Z post which was really very interesting and about so much more than just zebras. I do love zebras ( and horses ) so was glad you did them but I love your lovely child's cat necklace. I don't really know any little girls but, if I have a grandchild someday, I will have to get one for her. I hope you'll still be making them then!

I had no idea that you Swedes gave us the zipper....thank you so much. Clever invention.

Very interesting about your "Z" clothespins. I guess you'd better hand on to that last one and not use it.

ChristiS said...

I especially love the clothespins!! What a unique idea to use the last letter of the alphabet even though her name began with the first...sort of an Alpha and Omega type idea! Lovely!

Beverley Baird said...

What a fun post! Loved the zebras and your cat!
I had zipper as well but did not connect that it was created by a Swede.
My Mom's family was from Norway - Trondheim. And had an uncle from Sweden.

Jenny said...


What an interesting and fun stop on our little journey through Alphabe-Thursday's letter "Z".

I'm a bit worried, though. Is everything OK now?

The picture of the cat and the toy zebra was really neat!

And the strawberries.


Thank you for being a part of this meme, Anna!

I always love visiting you!


Jo said...

that was one interesting post ... you packed in a whole lot of fun & information and i enjoyed it all!

Liz said...

Wonderful photos!

have a wonderful weekend.

A Simple Life
Moms... Check Nyo
Mommy's Little Corner

jeff campbell said...

Oh Christina...such a lovely and very comprehensive post...you have a wonderful eye and consideration of what appeals...very nice...peace and blessings

Sarah said...

Clever post for Z. Love the idea of the clothes pins. Amazing that you still have this one. You should put in in a special place of honor. :-)

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