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Ignorance, Apathy, & Dishonesty November 30, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.
18 comments

170px-Chartres2006_076“The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere.”
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Conditioned to please
we bend the truth to suit our
listener’s deaf ears

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Maybe if we were all a bit more honest, people would actually tune in and hear what we are saying. 

People are unhappy because they aren’t being truthful with themselves.   Being truthful with yourself plugs you into your inner power. ~ Suze Orman

When you stop hiding who you are, you have more energy to become more fully who you want to be.

Related posts:  To Thine Own Self Be True * Kindly Be Honest * Are You OK Right Now? 

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10 Holiday Classics + 2 Year Round Faves November 30, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor.
11 comments

During the holidays, we turn on the tree (a small table top tree, not a B-I-G one), light some candles, and immerse ourselves in our favorite holiday classics.

Charles Dickens features prominently in our celebration: 

A Christmas Carol (1951)

Alastair Sim so brilliantly portrays  Ebenezer Scrooge, both before and after his ghostly visitors, that viewers find it implausible that the boyishly charming Sim (who awakens Christmas morn) could ever have uttered the phrase “Bah, Humbug” with any true conviction ~ yet he did.  A classic re-telling of Dickens’ classic tale.    

A Christmas Carol (1984)

Marley’s dead and Ebenezer Scrooge (George C. Scott) is in for a rude awakening!  Well,  three rude awakenings, actually.  As the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future conspire to deprive Scrooge of a peaceful night’s slumber, they open Scrooge’s miserly heart, and ours, to the joyful spirit of Christmas.

A Christmas Carol (1999)

Patrick Stewart’s powerful, persuasive performance and skillful transformation from the penny-pinching Ebenezer (visited by the spirits of Christmas past, present and future) to the enlightened Scrooge (who befriends Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim following that fateful Christmas Eve) make this adaptation of Dickens’ classic tale infinitely believable and thoroughly enjoyable. 

Scrooge (1970)

In this lively, musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future teach Ebenezer Scrooge (Albert Finney) that life is to be celebrated, and relationships cherished.  Great sets and cast, including: Sir Alec Guinness, Dame Edith Evans, and Kenneth More.  

Home For The Holidays (1995)

Recently unemployed, an overwhelmed Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) flies home for Thanksgiving.  She tearfully begs her brother (Robert Downey, Jr.) to join her as ally in this laugh-out-loud look at family ties.  Tommy complies, bringing an unexpected visitor (Dylan McDermott) who reminds Claudia to face her fears and embrace life. 

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Hands down, our favorite animated Christmas special ~ The Grinch steals our heart as his heart grows in stature.  Boris Karloff’s narration and singing steal the show . . . from everyone but Max! 

Love Actually (2003)

This delightfully touching movie is not just another love story.  Set in London with a talented ensemble cast (Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson), it addresses ten separate but interlaced romantic threads, and the many facets of love, during the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve. 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Eagerly awaiting his annual bonus, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) longs to create a postcard-perfect Christmas for kith and kin.  His dreams shatter like broken ornaments as uncooperative lights, flammable trees, overdone turkeys, and relatives intrude.  This raucous comedic glimpse at holiday traditions will have you laughing into the New Year!  

The Nutcracker (1993) 

Narrated by Kevin Kline, this movie version of the timeless yuletide fantasy (produced by George Balanchine) features the New York City Ballet, including a young Macauley Culkin.  Angels and sugarplums dance, a magic prince conquers all, a dreamy young girl twirls across the stage and a Christmas tree grows sky high in this enchanting adaptation.

The Ref (1994)

Gus (Denis Leary) takes husband (Kevin Spacey) and wife (Judy Davis)  hostage after a Christmas Eve burglary “gone wrong.”  Clever dialogue,  successfully presented, elicits howls of laughter as the hostages bicker relentlessly over who’s responsible for their pending divorce while gun-waving Gus acts as reluctant referee and surprisingly insightful therapist.

* * * * *

At other times of the year, we have a few movies that we watch repeatedly, never tiring of the silly banter and childish humor. 

Here’s two: 

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

When Dean Wormer places Delta fraternity on “double secret probation,” in this hilarious spoof about 60’s campus life, Brother Bluto (John Belushi) leads the charge, encouraging Delta House to fight back and demonstrate to pledges “Flounder” and “Pinto” that there’s a time and place for everything, and it’s called college!

Caddyshack (1980)

Golf’s funniest foursome (Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Ted Knight and Rodney Dangerfield) tee off in this side-splitting tour around pompous Judge Smails’ country club.  Featuring songs by Kenny Loggins, a gopher-hating groundskeeper, and hilariously scripted characters, this comedy classic offers more laughs than the 19th green.  “It’s in the hole!”

Related posts:  Joy to the World! * 10 Movies Worth the Price of Admission * Ten Marvelous Musicals 

The Land of Nod November 30, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Mindfulness.
12 comments

228px-Eugene_de_Blaas_A_Pensive_MomentAct in haste . . .

       Repent at bedtime.

“A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.”
~ Charlotte Brontë

“It is better to sleep on things beforehand than lie awake about them afterward.”
~ Baltasar Gracian

“Sleep is the best meditation.”
~ The Dalai Lama

“Sleep is an excellent way of listening to an opera.”
~ James Stephens

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
– E.B. White

Ho~Ho~Ho! Merry Christmas! November 29, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, People.
14 comments

IMGP2252bI love Santas.

Small ones, tall ones, fat ones, thin ones, red ones, green ones, and everything-in-between ones:

* I have a cat, a dog, a gator, a bear, and a mouse, all dressed as Santas.

* My Scottish Santa boasts a kilt.

* Several hand-carved Santas have pipes.

All have a twinkle in their eye.

As my collection of Santas grew, my desire to have an enormous Christmas tree sitting in the middle of the living room, taking up valuable real estate, diminished.

So BFF and I gave the behemoth to Goodwill, along with several strands of tangled lights, numerous boxes of toxic tinsel (that kept ending up in our cats’ digestive tracts and litter boxes), and ornaments which did not add to our enjoyment of the holiday season.

We kept a small, three-foot tall table top tree which we decorated with our favorite ornaments ~ Santas, angels, zebras, musical instruments, and hand-made ornaments from our nieces and nephews.

A few weeks after donating the large tree, we hosted a Holiday Open House for friends and family.   As soon as CTE (Christmas Tree Enthusiast) arrived, he looked around the living room, scanning with radar-like precision.  He swept back and forth a few times, with a perplexed look on his face.

He swept past dozens of Santas displayed on every surface, and in every nook and cranny.

He ignored the three-foot tall table top tree   next to where he was standing, and appeared not to see two smaller Christmas trees ~ one on the dining room table, and the other, complete with twinkling lights, on the hutch.

As he scanned the room, his eyes could have slowed or stopped periodically to admire nutcrackers, stockings (hung by the chimney with care), wreaths, holiday candles (glowing with warmth), reindeer, and other prominently displayed reminders of the season at hand.

Sadly, he missed all of the above.

With a look of utter amazement and complete disbelief, he asked, in an almost angry tone of voice, “Where is your Christmas Tree?”

“Right there,” I returned, pointing to our petite masterpiece.

“No.  Where is your B-I-G Christmas Tree?”

“That is our B-I-G Christmas Tree.  The two S-M-A-L-L trees are over there, and over there,” I added, helpfully pointing them out.

“Why don’t you have a B-I-G Christmas Tree?”

“We gave it away because we didn’t really enjoy having it that much.”

“What do you mean?  You HAVE to have a tree,” he said, with such obvious authority that I wondered whether we had overlooked that clause in a social contract we had signed inadvertently at some point  during our married life.

“We don’t HAVE to have a tree,” I said with a smile, starting to enjoy this unexpected cross-examination.

“Of course, you do.   Where are you going to put your presents?”

“Right over there, next to my three foot tall Santa.”

“You can’t put your presents next to a Santa Claus,” he said as if he were speaking to someone who was mentally challenged.  “Presents belong under a Christmas Tree.”

“Well, I don’t know if that’s an actual rule . . . ”

Even after I reminded him that we didn’t have any children who would be devastated by the lack of a tree on Christmas morning, its absence continued to bother him.

Shaking his head in dismay, he wandered over to the bounteous buffet where he  filled his plate with shrimp cocktail, without commenting on the size of the shrimp.

Later, I watched him enjoying the cocktail-sized sweet and sour meatballs and petite pigs-in-blankets.  He did not ask, even once, “Where are your B-I-G wieners?  Where are your B-I-G balls?”

Despite the food, drink, and convivial conversation, CTE remained stiff and ill-at-ease for the remainder of the party.  Apparently, our lack of conformity  to tradition, and our obvious disregard for Christmas decorating etiquette, made it impossible for him to enjoy the holiday gathering.

Instead of accepting the “what is,” as Zen enthusiasts encourage us to do, he kept looking around for the one thing that was missing.

Now, you must understand that our Christmas tree never rivaled the tree displayed outside Rockefeller Center.  Nor was coming to see our tree the highlight of anyone’s Christmas season.  In fact, our Christmas Eves and Christmas Days were never spent under our own roof.

You must also understand that I at no time suggested that CTE reduce the size of his own tree, which to this day easily consumes at least 75% of the available square footage in his cramped living room.

Nevertheless, he couldn’t shake the feeling that we somehow had deprived him of an essential element to his enjoyment of the Christmas Season.

After cleaning up from the party, I hurried  to my office and typed up a quick letter to Santa to ask whether we had committed an egregious faux pas by foregoing a B-I-G tree as the center-point of our holiday decorations.

Santa’s response?

“Ho-Ho-Ho!  Merry Christmas!”

I love Santa.

Wine + Wit + W.C. Fields . . . November 29, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
15 comments

Medieval_kitchen“I always cook with wine.  Sometimes I even add it to the food.” ~ W.C. Fields

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“Wine is bottled poetry.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

“Wine is a turncoat; first a friend and then an enemy.” ~ Henry Fielding

“In vino, veritas.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Joy To The World! November 29, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Less IS More, Poetry.
8 comments

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

This year,

instead of spending

the Holidays in crowded stores,

running up credit card debt that will take

months to pay off, to buy stuff that

will soon be collecting dust,

 simplify your celebration

by focusing on the

 reason for the

season:  

 

PEACE

Reconnect

with the Holiday Spirit * 

Join S.C.R.O.O.G.E. (the Society

to Curtail Ridiculous, Outrageous, and Ostentatious

 Gift Exchanges) * Watch Holiday Classics with your wee ones 

* Pop popcorn and string some for the tree * Make homemade ornaments * 

Light a candle and say a Prayer for someone each night in December *

Decorate an outdoor

 tree with nuts, seeds,

& berries for the birds

 

JOY

Have

your kids

pick a favorite charity 

and donate time or money

during the Holidays * Instead of

giving a gift to someone who already

has everything, have a tree planted in their honor * 

Visit a Prison, Nursing Home, Children’s Ward, or Homeless

Shelter with simple homemade gifts (cookies, candy & cards) * Focus

on giving gifts that

foster family  fun

(Puzzles, Food,

Movies, Games) 

 

LOVE

Invite

Neighbors and

Friends over for Cocoa,

Cookies, and Carols * Read

Dickens, A Christmas Carol (“God

Bless Us, Everyone!”) to your children

 or grandchildren * Adopt a family or child for 

Kwanzaa, Christmas, or Hanukkah and make sure they 

have a Holiday Feast to remember * Go Caroling around your

neighborhood and admire the decorations * Focus on the blessings and

 abundance in your life * Spend a few moments in reverential silence each

 evening *  Perform one act of kindness each day during the Holidays * Say a

fervent Prayer for

Peace on Earth 

and Goodwill

towards Man  

May we all delight in the Peace, Hope, Love, and Joy of this Festive Season, whether we celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or the Winter Solstice!

Related posts:  Gifts of Hope * Experiential Gifts * More Trash to Treasure

PETS: First Aid Kit Essentials November 28, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in People.
10 comments

Having First Aid Kits available before an injury or accident occurs saves valuable time ~ both for us and our beloved pets.

Here’s some items to include in your pet’s First Aid Kit:

* Phone number and address of Veterinarian, Emergency Animal Hospital, and Poison Control

* Photocopies of medical records, vaccinations, microchip number, etc.

* Medical Gloves to protect hands and prevent contamination

* Scissors to cut gauze or the animal’s fur

* Mild antibacterial soap to clean skin and wounds

* Gauze Pads for wounds

* Gauze Rolls for wounds or to use as a temporary muzzle

* Alcohol Prep Pads to sterilize equipment, NOT for use on wounds

* Self-Adhesive Bandages to wrap and stabilize injuries

* Eyewash (contact lens solution or water) to flush out wounds and eyes

* Iodine Ointment for burns, cuts, and abrasions

* Tweezers for removing foreign objects from skin and paws

* Triple Antibiotic Ointment for cuts and abrasions (NOT for eyes)

* Cotton Swabs

* A Basic Pet First Aid book

Borrowing Beats Buying November 28, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Less IS More, Sustainable Living.
11 comments

Share Some Sugar brings together people seeking to share or borrow seldom-used items they would rather not buy.

“There’s so much stuff we already own that’s sitting around in our garages collecting dust,” says Keara Schwartz, founder.  “It feels good to share.”

When we borrow a seldom-used item instead of buying our own, we:

* Save money (and space in our garage)
* Strengthen trust and community ties with neighbors. 
* Consume less and lower our environmental footprint.

If we loan a seldom used item of ours:

* We feel good.  Sharing is caring.
* We develop a sense of community with neighbors.
* We have a chance to meet new people.

Shared items might include: Ladders, Pressure Washers, Party Chairs & Tents, Carpet Steamers, Kayaks, Canoes, Sewing Machines, Bikes, etc.

Interested? Visit Share Some Sugar . . . why buy when you can borrow?

Related article:  Share Some Sugar: A Site To Reduce Consumerism Through Sharing (Sierra Club ~ The Green Life)

Frugal Habits Are Healthy! November 27, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Sustainable Living.
18 comments

220px-Pig_roastbeefAs a response to the economic slow-down, many middle class families have adopted frugal behaviors that are making them healthier.

Families have cut expenses by:

* Cooking at home more often (45%)

* Buying less junk food (30%)

* Walking or biking to work (13%)

* Reducing alcohol consumption (10%)

* Bringing lunch to work instead of eating out.

And, while whittling their waistlines, they’re padding their wallets!

Small changes today.  BIG bucks tomorrow:

If you save an average of $10 a day by adopting more frugal healthy living habits, you’ll save $70 a week and $3,640 a year!

Go to Feed The Pig for free savings tips!

Warmth In A Winter Wonderland November 27, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Nature.
13 comments

IMGP2252bThe winter months are no holiday for local wildlife. Abundant food, unfrozen water and a toasty home can be hard for birds and other wildlife to come by.

You can help them survive this season!

Providing for wildlife in the winter is easier than you think. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1.  Provide winter fuel for wildlife with native plants that offer nuts, berries and seeds or offer a feeder.

2.  Anchor your old holiday tree in a secluded part of your yard for wildlife to use as shelter from harsh weather.

3.  Start a compost pile of needles, pine cones and wreaths made from natural material from your holiday decorations to provide additional cover for wildlife.

4.  Clean and fill your bird bath on a regular basis. If you live in an area where temperatures freeze water, use a bird bath heater as a simple way to keep water accessible.

5.  Create a cozy winter home for birds. Clean out your spring nest boxes or provide a warm winter roosting box.

Roosting birds prefer winter homes placed up high ~ about 10 feet or more.

For more tips on offering Food and Warmth to Wildlife this Winter, visit National Wildlife Federation.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM RANGER RICK!