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Put That In Your Pipe and Don’t Smoke It! September 30, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Nature, Poetry, Word Play.
23 comments

We have a winner!

BeeBlu used every resource at her disposal to identify the intriguing specimen we saw loitering about the kitchen garden at Cracker Country.

When all else failed, she asked her husband, just back from a golf game.

And he knew the answer!

If you want to continue playing along . . . check out BeeBlu’s response for some clever clues.

If you want the definitive answer, click HERE or HERE.

For more info on the plant and its extended family tree, er, vine, click HERE.

Thanks for playing along!

As an added bonus . . .

Join BeeBlu’s Search Engine Poetry Contest  this weekend!

Create and submit the wierdest wackiest poem with the bizarre search terms used to find your unique and distinct blog!

Think Lewis Carroll and . . .  Jabberwocky!

Or just visit the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar for some inspired inspiration.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Illustrations:  Wikipedia ~ Alice in Wonderland (in Public Domain)

Intriguing Specimen From A Kitchen Garden September 29, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Nature.
50 comments

Today, for Smithsonian Museum Day, we went to Cracker County, a living history museum, at the State Fairgrounds in Tampa.

While we wandered the grounds, costumed interpreters churned butter, ran the printing presses in the print shop, cooked rabbit stew over open flames, scrubbed laundry using lye soap and ribbed washboards, forged metal, caned chairs, carved wood, fashioned baskets, and entertained children in the schoolhouse, the church, and at the lasso demonstration.

The train depot, moved from Okahumpka FL, contained a model railroad.

And boasted a little red caboose fitted out as a doctor’s office.

The most intriguing thing we saw was loitering about the kitchen garden.

Not in the garden proper, but hanging about the fence . . . mini boxing gloves.

We thought someone had quilted ornaments and hung them to dry.

Further examination revealed the delicate organic nature of the blooms.

We asked around; no one recognized the plant or its alien pods.

Stumped, we clumped around the grounds looking for “Claude,” the gardener. 

At last, we learned the name of this mysterious kitchen garden specimen. 

Aah . . . that’s better!

Do you recognize the plant?  Ever seen one before?  Do you recall when and where?  Do you remember its name? 

First one to post the correct answer below gets bragging rights!  If no one guesses the plant’s name, I’ll gladly tell you on Tuesday.

Today September 27, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Mindfulness.
52 comments

It’s true, you know . . . Today IS the FIRST day of the REST of your life. 

The past is gone.  It’s water over the dam. 

No matter how fast you swim, you cannot reclaim those droplets.

The future holds promise.  But like vapor and steam, it’s impossible to grasp until it condenses.

Today.  Today is where it’s at.  Drink it in.  Soak it up.  Be Here Now. 

Pooh: What day is it?

Piglet: Today.

Pooh: Oh, good. Today is always my favorite day.

Here’s to making Today the best day of the week.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Happiness is FREE for the asking! September 24, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Meditation, Mindfulness.
48 comments

What’s your vibrational “set point” when faced with  uncertainty?  

Are you anxious and fearful?  Or confident, relaxed, and filled with alert curiosity?

As challenges arise, do you go with the flow?  Or paddle madly against the current?

What about in your dreams?  Are you relaxed and happy?  Or are your nighttime hours filled with angst and confusion?

Meditation and visualization switch our vibrational set point from anger, angst, and anxiety . . . to expanded feelings of inner peace, confidence, and alert curiosity.

Meditation teaches us to live in the moment, where happiness resides.  We absorb into our being that which resonates, leaving the rest behind.

Whether we are chopping wood or carrying water, we embrace the moment at hand.  We enter the flow of life and find inner peace at last.

Our good vibrations crowd out the bad.

No time to meditate?  (Really?  Honest Injun?  Cross your heart and hope to die?)  Then SMILE and Just Be. 

Happiness is FREE for the asking.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote to Ponder:  Human beings have the capacity to experience happiness at a deeper level, which, when achieved, can overwhelm unhappy experiences. ~ The Pocket Dalai Lama

Related posts:  It’s the Tone, Not the Content (Raptitude) * The Pursuit of Happiness * The ABC’s of Happiness * Happiness ~ Check it Out * The Last Lecture * Attack of the Killer ANTS *  Good Vibrations

Are You Trying To Make Me Feel Guilty? September 22, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness.
51 comments

Have you ever been asked to support a “good cause” by buying something you don’t need, want, or plan to use?

By a pushy salesperson who refuses to accept your polite  dismissal?  Someone who continues to duel and spar with you instead of  moving on to the next target?  Someone who views you as a sucker with a bullseye on your wallet?

I have.   And it always annoys me when “they” try to make me feel guilty for not buying what they are selling.

But, of course, I’m far too polite to say so. 

Instead, I say “no, thank you” in as many different languages as possible:  

“Oh, no thanks.  I don’t need one of those at the moment.”

“Well, you could give it to someone as a gift.”

“Oh, no thanks.  I’ve stopped exchanging gifts with people because all my friends have too much stuff.”

“Well, you could buy it and donate it to Goodwill.”

“Yes, I could . . . but I could also cut out the middle man and just give the cash to Goodwill.  That might be easier to track at tax time.” 

Enough!  No more Mister Nice Guy.  The gloves are OFF.  

The next time some eight-year-old tries to twist my arm to buy Girl Scout Cookies, I’m going to let her have it.

I’m going to turn the tables and shine the spotlight directly on her sales technique:

“Excuse me.  Are you trying to make ME feel guilty?”

{{Pregnant Pause}}

“Don’t you think that YOU should feel guilty for trying to sell such an unhealthy snack to people who are desperately trying to lose weight and whittle their waists?”

{{Still nothing}}

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack, diabetes, a stroke?”

{{Shakes head from side to side}}

“Well . . . what part of NO don’t you understand?”

Having done my good deed for the day, I shall flounce into the nearest Publix, head straight to the chocolate aisle, and reward myself for not giving into the temptation of saying YES just because it’s easier than saying NO.  

What? 

Stop looking at me like that.  

Are you trying to make me feel guilty?

Well, it won’t work. 

Here . . . have some C~H~O~C~O~L~A~T~E!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Worn Out Excuses September 21, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.
40 comments

People often claim that they don’t have the time . . . to exercise, eat right, or meditate. 

Often, it’s not a lack of time holding them back ~ the activity in question is just not a priority for them.

So they hide behind a socially acceptable, worn around the edges, excuse ~ the claimed lack of time.

In like vein, businesses making unpopular decisions often claim they “had no choice” . . . as they bulldoze forests . . . pollute the Gulf of Mexico . . . outsource jobs to China . . . or club baby seals to death for their fur.

In reality, these greedy bastards had other choices available that they chose not to explore.

These S.O.B.’s are so concerned with the immediate bottom line that THEY would rather rape the planet and give the rest of us the finger than wrestle with the morality and long-term sustainability of the choices they make.

Sorry.   You’ll have to excuse this post.   

I hate pointing fingers at unnamed generic C.E.O.’s (Chief Exploitation Officers) like this, but I had no choice ~ I just don’t have the time to explore this issue in greater depth and detail right now.  

I’m busy. 

I have a lot of balls in the air right now ~ I’m contemplating my navel, watching  paint dry, and twiddling my thumbs.  All at the same time!  

What’s your excuse?  😉

Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote (via The Blue Lotus Cafe):  “It’s our nature to want happiness and not want suffering. Thus, Buddhists do not ask that one give up the pursuit of happiness, but merely suggest that one become more intelligent about how happiness is pursued.” – Jeffrey Hopkins, “Equality”

Related posts:  The Illusion of Time (Think Simple Now) * Time ~ What Makes You Tick? (Real Simple)

On Being A Hermit September 19, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, Life Balance.
51 comments

Researchers don’t know what causes many dementias of the later years.

Nevertheless, there seems to be a rather Universal RX or prescribed set of behaviors  for staying sharp in old age . . .

And that RX includes maintaining social ties.

If the proponents of this RX are to be believed, hermits will not fare well as they advance from middle age to geriatric stature. 

Instead of aging gracefully, those prone to solitude will lose their minds . . . even if no one is around to notice.

As someone with vast reservoirs of untapped introverted tendencies at my disposal, this agreed upon RX for cognitive well-being in one’s senior years has both concerned and perplexed me.

Concerned thought:  Will I really lose my mind at a faster rate because I am not a party animal prone to wearing designer gowns at gala events? 

Perplexed thought:  Stress causes our brains to age faster.  Being around people, especially badly behaved  people, is stressful.  Ergo, we should avoid people whenever possible. 

But how can we avoid people to reduce stress while  “maintaining social ties” to preserve cognitive functioning?

What’s an introvert to do???

After sharing my “perplexed thought” with BFF the other day, I stumbled into an answer to this age-old old age question.  As an added bonus, it substantiated my take on the subject.  Yay!  

Here it is: 

I feel obliged to say that social engagement is NOT a universal criterion for cognitive wellness.  Indeed, many studies on successful aging have found that some older adults may exhibit adaptive, healthy aging because they REDUCE social interation in thelr lives and thus avoid the stress and strain it can cause.
 
Successful aging is not prescriptive; it occurs on a case-by-case basis.  Ultimately, you need to assess your own life domain and make the decisions that you feel will best promote your wellness.
 
~ The Myth of Alzheimer’s, p. 255

Yes!  Dr. Whitehouse, a renowned expert in the field of geriatrics, recognizes that extroverts are not the only ones who can make it to the finish line with memory, logic, and reason intact.

I love it when people agree with me, especially if they seem to know what they are talking about.  

If they’ve already lost their minds to creeping senility, like most crazy old hermits I know, I’d just as soon not have their stamp of approval. 

Aah . . . that’s better!

Giving in to Wanderlust September 18, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Less IS More, Sustainable Living.
44 comments

The-Pink-PantherHave you ever considered turning your back on materialism to join an intentional community?

To live more communally and less commercially?

To share resources and responsibilities with other like-minded folks?

Well . . . before you jump ship, make sure those like-minded folks are really to your liking.

Especially if there are no bathroom doors!

Last night, we watched a quirky comedy, Wanderlust, starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd as a young married couple exploring alternative lifestyles after  the hectic pace of New York City . . . outpaces them.

Chance and happenstance lead them to Elysium ~ an intentional community in Georgia populated by more than a few colorful characters, including Alan Alda.

Sometimes LESS is more . . . and sometimes LESS is just bizarre.

In time, after more than a few missteps, they realize WHO they are and HOW they want to live.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Writer’s Retreat . . . in Florence, Italy! September 16, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Writing & Writers.
40 comments

Julie Hedlund is running a Writer’s Retreat in Florence, Italy . . . and YOU are invited.

Unless you are man.

Writer’s Renaissance is for women ~ especially women who love gelato . . . wine . . . pasta . . . and traveling to exotic ports of call.

Writer’s Renaissance, scheduled for April 7 – 13, 2013, includes:

  • Six nights accommodation at the beautiful Antica Torre Tornabuoni
  • Welcome Reception on Hotel Terrace
  • Two meals per day – Breakfast + Dinner
  • Writing inspiration and exercises with Faculty
  • All Program activities, including any entrance fees
  • An excursion to the gorgeous Badia a Coltibuono, a cooking class, wine tasting, and celebratory dinner
  • Plenty of “white space” (free time) for you to write, explore the city, visit museums or just rest
  • All included hotel amenities and services

For more details on the Writer’s Renaissance, visit Julie’s website.

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Quote to Ponder:  Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. ~ Jules Renard

Rolling Round Corners & Corridors September 16, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Mindfulness.
26 comments

Pluto-RollerskatingIn the blogosphere, articles come and go at a rapid clip.

Some stay with us longer than others . . .

Rolling round the corners and corridors of our minds as we attempt to make sense of the non-sensical.

Some recent examples:

* A month ago, PiP (Piglet in Portugal), responded to a photo challenge by asking, Is Bullfighting “Wrong”?   Responses varied across the board ~ some defending tradition, others defending the bulls.  Seeing red, and refusing to sidestep the issue, I charged full speed ahead:

“Bullfighting is neither ART nor SPORT . . . it is IGNORANCE in action.”

Wikipedia ~ Bull Fighting (in Public Domain)

I stand by what I said . . . and would extend the same sentiment to Cock-Fighting, Bear-Baiting, Dog-Fighting, Canned Shoots, Rodeos, Circuses, and more than a few Zoos.

* Months ago, Renee (Life in the Boomer Lane) posted an eye-opening, blood-boiling,  wallet-closing article from Ed at www.ginandtacos.com ~  Komen Foundation: Race for the Consumer.   I agreed with and applauded the sentiments expressed:

clap * claP * clAP * cLAP * CLAP –> wild applause

As Ed pointed out, with finesse, non-profits often use the “cause of the day” to advance their own agendas and pad their own pockets.

“[M]any organizations . . . use the funds they raise primarily to raise more funds and pay handsome salaries to the administrators and their talentless family members.” 

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is “a fake charity run like any other company with a product to sell. In this case the product is a combination of guilt, pity, and hope dissolved in a weak acid and dyed a nauseating pink.”  

Caveat Emptor.

* How do we KNOW the unknowable?  By tapping into our intuition . . . our sixth sense.  When we circumvent reason and logic (and tell Ego to shut up), we tune into the Universal Internet and can read each other’s minds via “the collective consciousness.”  Or so say I.

Animals do it all the time:  Dog is home alone. No distractions. It tunes into its owner’s mind and “sees” owner on the way home. It waits by the door, tail wagging.  To read more, visit Colonialist:  Pets Give Proof of Telepathy?

* Kate’s wanders cause us to wonder and ponder.  One that stayed with me, A Psycho in Chaucer’s Canterbury, focuses on the little used, frowned upon lexicon entry ~ psychogeography.  In Kate’s words:

I am in leurve with a word which, it is possible, does not even properly exist: a beatnik-word, a shady semi-respectable possibility.

I stumbled across psychogeography as I was searching vainly for the source history of the strangest piece of street furniture. I had entered: “Canterbury wooden demons Mercer Street.”

* * * * *

Which brings me to psychogeography: a word the dictionaries seem to shun, the urban dictionaries mistrust. Wikipedia, that strumpet, will talk about anything, but even it insists that its entry needs to be re-written completely to comply with its free-for-all standards.

* * * * *

And what an environment Canterbury has set: a place designed to awe and cow pilgrims in equal measure, to stun with towering architecture, to crowd with overhanging buildings, to instill fear and superstition with those grotesques and carvings which people the city.

It is as if someone thought: how shall we best get money out of those trusting pilgrims to Canterbury?

And then , they built it.

Kate’s Canterbury Tale exemplifies how “we shape our environment . . . and then our environment shapes us.”

Perhaps the Komen Foundation took its cue from the Canterbury Tales?

* As Don (Candid Impressions) recognizes in Perceiving the Whole, when we can’t see the forest for the trees, it’s time to take a giant step back so we can view the big picture:

The great masters of life teach us not to see in an isolated way. They call on us to see things as a whole, not as fragments, but in context. Seeing in this way enables us to truly grasp the full implications of what we do and what we decide upon. All things are mysteriously connected at a level we have not yet even begun to grasp. Only this kind of perception awakens a true compassion and a true ethic for life.

When we perceive the connection, “us” and “them” fades away to become a more unified “we.”

* Life’s curveballs often are both beyond our ken . . . and outside our control.  Kathy (Pocket Perspectives) creates visual reminders that  we can change our lives by changing the thoughts we think.

When I replied to her post, Brainstorming Strategy Charts for Opening Up To and Creating a Good Outcome, Kathy incorporated my thoughts into a new page:

How’s that for going with the flow . . . as the path unfolds before us?

* With practice, we can control how we relate to the challenges tossed our way.  This week, Joss (Crowing Crone) shared a powerful post, Facing the Moment, which included a link to A Leaf in Springtime ~ a breast cancer survivor who is an inspiring example of how to transform life’s  challenges into Life Lessons:

2. Some parties are not worth attending. Especially the pity-parties where we indulge and celebrate ourselves. Stop pulling out your favourite chair to watch re-runs of your life.

3. Once in a while it is useful to stop and ask oneself this question – “What if I am wrong?”

7. The surest way to know what kind of person you are becoming is to watch what things you are feeding your mind, your eyes, your ears and what kind of speech filters from your mouth.

11.The single most powerful thing on earth is the power to choose a thought, a response, a habit, a life.

17. One of our greatest failures is making ourselves victims of the failures of others.

18. If life is a gift, then the simple act of chopping tomatoes, brewing a cup of tea, even getting down on my knees to clean is a sacred act of service I can render.

22. Stop. Wait. Rest. Listen. Sometimes that is the best kind of doing.

Yes!  Exactly.

IMGP3904

Don’t just do something . . . sit there.

Aah . . . that’s better!