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Experience Inspiration & Wonder July 15, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, Writing & Writers.
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44 comments

poems_inspiration-1Life is in the details, the cobwebs in the corners, the echoes of tarnished memories tap dancing over dusty hardwood floors.

Writers bring ashes of the past to the surface, quilting tapestries of interwoven gilded threads.

Our words, when real, create connection.

Stories reel us in when driven by believable characters residing in the “real world” (even if that world is make believe ~ like Harry Potter and Hogwart’s).

When characters feel real, we understand where they’re coming from, we relate to their challenges, we feel their pain, and we want to see them succeed.

We keep turning pages.  We wonder what’s coming next.

220px-TennieldumdeeWonder is why I love Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee, Harry Potter, and Alice ~> the perfect juxtaposition between familiar elements (British nanny, boarding school) with unfamiliar elements (tea parties on the ceiling, shifting staircases, rabbit holes).

These stories cast charming and disarming spells:  Expelliarmus!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related:  The Stanton Effect: Inspiration from a TED Talk (El Space ~ The Blog of L. Marie) * Write From Experience (El Space) * Invoking Wonder (El Space)

Sun Temples and Druids June 17, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, People, Travel & Leisure.
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30 comments

In 1979, my grandfather pondered the mysteries of ancient settlers in the New World, including Druids in Vermont, after receiving America B.C., by Barry Fell from my father for his birthday.

While the book has its critics, my grandfather enjoyed exploring the subject matter:

3/2 ~ “I have received the America B.C. Book. It has a good picture of the South Woodstock Temple “dirt cellar.” It is evident it is an ancient settler building. The markings are a dedication to (Gel) Sun God.”

Intrigued, my grandfather gathered a group to visit the Temple in South Woodstock in May (after the snow melted and the mud dried):

5/1 ~ “I had to write a little to inform you that a group of us, namely Leon and Marjorie, Al & Judy, Margaret and I, attended services to the Sun at the Temple.  We ran into the owner of the land and told him what we were looking for. I took 2 flash pictures inside with the party standing about. It is a sizable room. Mr. Reeves knew me by sight from Town Meetings. There is a fire place near the Temple structure. It is also of ancient origin, I think. The road was pretty fair and dried out. The symbols of fertility have been moved to a museum for safe keeping. Chapter 14 in America B.C.

A few weeks later, he shared his photos with Joseph B. Johnson, who had served as 70th Governor of Vermont in the 1950’s:

6/25 ~ “Another event of the year is past. The Parade of Springfield Alumni. Lucia took Margaret and I to the Johnson’s at 10. An open car picked us up at 10:30. Joe was in front and Margaret, Virginia and I were in back. We are now the second car of old people. A doubtful honor for us.

“I took along a picture of the South Woodstock Temple. It was news to both Joe and Virginia. Joe may get a copy of the book. Margaret is OK after the parade. It is nearing dinner time and we have berries. So I am all set. The sun is out and porch livable. And so we drift into Summer.”

The next year, he expanded his reading to encompass the Druids of the Old World:

1/14 ~ “It is about time I wrote thanking you for Christmas gifts. Margaret is reading the book on the Druids. They were a secretive sort of religious people. The So. Woodstock building seems to match other buildings in Europe, Scotland, and England.”

That’s one of the delights of reading.  The end of a book need not be the end of the inquiry.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related articles:  The Mysterious Stone Chambers of New England (The South Woodstock complex consists of stone chambers, standing stones, and cairns in a natural bowl surrounded by hills and ridges. Besides having close proximity to waterways connecting with the Connecticut River, the beehive structures would have been interconnected by an intricate network of footpaths.)

Related posts re dad’s dad:  The Other Side of Retirement * How NOT To Cook A Turkey * Pragmatic Thoughts on Life & Death * Wry Observations on Dry Politics * Flying Squirrels & Other Silly Bits * Quaint Colloquialisms * DIY Projects, Work Bees, & No Cavities! * Until The Worm Turns * A Real Straight Shooter

A Sense of Wonder January 2, 2015

Posted by nrhatch in Animal Welfare, Books & Movies, Life Balance, Nature.
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42 comments

As Rachel Carson considered the impact of pesticides and DDT on the environment, she realized she did not want to undertake a writing project of that magnitude, but she knew the book needed to be written.

When every author she contacted declined to get involved, she decided to write an article, just that.

As she researched, the material grew.  She contracted to write a short book, and allocated 7 months to the project.  Two and 1/2 years later, she was still researching and hadn’t started writing.

A year before her death from cancer at the age of 56, Silent Spring was published.

The chemical companies were outraged and lambasted her.  She was called a paranoid old woman.  She was likened to Joseph McCarthy and his “witch”hunt.

It was publicity her publisher could never have afforded.

President Kennedy assigned a task force to look into the effects of DDT and other pesticides on the environment.

The EPA was born.  DDT was banned.

Rachel Carson continued to make speeches, addressing audiences about the dangers until shortly before her death in 1964.

Some authors create ripples.  Rachel Carson started a tidal wave.

Aah . . . that’s better!

“Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?” ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

For NaNoWriMo ~ Two Top 7 Lists November 3, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
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36 comments

IMGP4187

Top 7 Reasons Writers Don’t Read More:

7. They are too busy writing, writing, madly writing.

6. Their reading skills are rusty.

5. They are feeding Tweets to Twitter every 5 minutes (WWPD => 2456).

4. They are bleeding from self-inflicted wounds.

3. They’re worn out from inviting Facebook friends to “check it out.”

2. They are lost in a maze of amazing words.

1. They are daydreaming about writing fame and fortune.

150px-Carlo_Crivelli_052

Top 7 Reasons Writers Should Read More:

7. To take a break from writing, writing, madly writing.

6. To improve reading (and editing) skills.

5. To expand vocabulary and explore the amazing world of words.

4. To shift perspective and look through life via another lens.

3. To strengthen writing muscles by hearing other writers’ voices.

2. To imagine giving (and receiving) constructive criticism with panache.

1. Sheer enjoyment and escapism.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Do you read more than you write?  Or write more than you read?

A Slytherin’ Successsssss September 29, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Writing & Writers.
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42 comments

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Despite his eventual fame, Harry Potter did not find a publisher straight out of the gate.

Imagine if J.K. Rowling had given up on the idea when she received rejection after rejection:

* The world would never have met Dumbledore or Dobby the House Elf.

* Or wandered the corridors of Hogwarts or Diagon Alley.

* And none of us would know how to play Quidditch.

Rowling kept pitching her story until she found a publisher who saw in her stories what readers did ~ a spellbinding read.

Aah . . . that’s better!

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

The Benjamin Franklin Diet September 22, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Food & Drink, Vegetarian Recipes.
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36 comments

While scouting the library stacks for inspiration, I stumbled upon an interesting diet book . . .

I added it to the stack of books in my arms, ignoring the oft quoted adage and admonition . . . “neither a borrower nor a lender be.”

At home, I settled down to learn about Ben’s diet.

* At a young age, Ben swore off meat and quaffing pints of ale so as to have more money to spend on books.

* In so doing, he noted that he felt better and had greater mental clarity after meals consisting of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

* He also noticed that he felt better when he exercised for 15 minutes before each meal.  If the weather wasn’t being cooperative, he spent his 15 minutes leaping inside the house ~ forward and back or side to side.

In addition to the fascinating narrative of Ben’s life philosophy, the author, Kelly Wright, collected and shared a number of colonial recipes for grains, soups, stews, game, and sweet fare, including:  Hasty Pudding, Dauphiny Soup, Oatcakes, Classic Colonial Bread, Hoecakes, Tavern Bread, and Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese Spread.

Inspired, I whipped up a loaf of Mrs. Wright’s Beer Bread in minutes.

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Combine 3 cups whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup raw sugar, 1 Tbsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt.  Stir in a bottle (12 ounces) of beer or ale.

Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 5 loaf pan.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.

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“Hunger never saw bad bread.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Delighted with the result, I followed Ben’s lead and leaped and leapt about.

Aah . . . that’s better! 

To learn more:  The Benjamin Franklin Diet (Book) * The Benjamin Franklin Diet (Website)

Heaven Is For Real August 24, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Spirituality & Faith.
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56 comments

We watched Heaven Is For Real this week and enjoyed Colton’s story:

Colton Burpo survived an emergency appendectomy.  After recovering, he told his parents he left his body during the surgery and detailed what they’d been doing in other parts of the hospital.  He talked of visiting heaven, meeting Jesus, and shared stories about people he met there ~ including a sister who had died in vitro and his great-grandfather whom he’d never met.

It’s an intriguing glimpse at what may lie beyond the veil:

I’ve requested the book of the same name from the Island Library:

Maybe the best is yet to come.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  Is There REALLY Proof of Heaven or Life After Death? (SMART Living 365) * How Do You Live If Heaven Is Real? (SMART Living 365)

Give Kids The World August 1, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Gratitude, Happiness, People.
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18 comments

Give Kids The World Village is a 70-acre non-profit “storybook” resort and vacation village in Kissimmee Florida where children with life threatening illnesses and their families can enjoy a week’s vacation ~ all expenses paid:

The village is the passionate vision of Henri Landwirth, a holocaust survivor turned hotelier in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

A man never stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.                   ~Father Flanagan

To learn more about Give Kids The World ~> visit www.gktw.com.

To learn more about Landwirth’s remarkable life ~> read Gift of Life.

Henri’s autobiography, with a Forward by Walter Cronkite and an Afterward by Astronaut and Senator John Glenn, was co-authored in 1996 by BFF’s cousin, J.P. Hendricks (“John”).

Revenues from the sale of Gift of Life go to Give Kids The World Foundation to help ensure that children and families who need help will always be served.

To find your way in this world, listen to your heart. ~ P.J.  Hendricks (1972) (“Pat”)

Aah . . . that’s better! 

3 Things I Learned This Week June 7, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
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44 comments

170px-PuckCoverAs a child, I loved the story of Epaminondas ~ a young boy who was forever applying the “right lesson” at the wrong time.

So much so that his auntie often shook her head and said, “Epaminondas, Epaminondas ~ you ain’t got the sense you was born with!”

Like Epaminondas, I’ve learned a few things this week.

Let’s hope that moving forward, I apply the right lesson at the right time:

1.  “Legal lingo” doesn’t translate well into the “real world.”

When lawyers counsel clients to avoid “even the appearance of impropriety” by revealing potential “conflicts of interest,” they are not saying that anyone has done or is doing anything wrong.

It’s “code” for laying all one’s cards on the table so that no one looking on will ever be able to raise the issue of possible impropriety or shady dealings due to the relationship of the parties.

2.  I need to avoid the temptation to extrapolate from what’s “right for me” to what’s “right for you.” 

Unless retained to represent someone else, I should keep my nose out of their business.  It doesn’t matter if I know what I would do if I were in their shoes . . . because they aren’t MY shoes.

3.  I am NOT the General Manager of the Universe.

What a relief!  A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  Almost as if Atlas Shrugged ~ an interesting synchronicity since we happened to watch a documentary on Ayn Rand last night.

Aah . . . that’s better!

If any of you are looking for a “beach read” this summer, I have it on good authority that Andra’s book,  To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, is a page turner!

“The mystery of how and why Meriwether Lewis died at thirty-five on the Natchez Trace in 1809 Tennessee is one of the lynchpins that holds the story together and propels it forward. In a wonderful leap of imagination, Watkins pits two adversarial figures straight out of American history against each other for one last deadly confrontation, with the winner gaining redemption and the loser falling into the eternal abyss.” [J.R. Stewart]

Related posts:  Traveling the Natchez Trace with Meriwether Lewis and author Andra Watkins (Breathe Lighter) * Interview: Andra Watkins (Blog Critics) * To Live Forever by Andra Watkins (I Heart Reading) * To Live Forever ~ A Novel By Andra Watkins (Michael Carnell) * More Press & Praise for the book.

 

 

Give Your Brain A Boost . . . With A Book April 25, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Health & Wellness, Meditation.
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43 comments

150px-Carlo_Crivelli_052Last week, Andra Watkins (The Accidental Cootchie Mama) shared links to two research studies done to evaluate the impact of reading on brain function:

Brain Function Boosted After Reading A Novel

This study revealed increased brain activity measured in the MRI’s of 21 college students during and after reading the novel Pompeii.

While this is promising news for book lovers, I wish the study had used control groups so we could compare results and determine whether reading novels has a more pronounced effect on the brain than:  watching movies, playing video games, meditating, dining out, texting, yoga, drinking wine, eating chocolate, walking, parasailing, riding a bike, talking to a close friend, having sex, etc.

Since everyone read the same novel, it’s hard to conclude, based on this study alone, that novel reading is better for the brain than other activities, such as reading poetry, attending a concert, watching a ballet, or “getting jiggy with it” by going ballroom dancing.

But reading definitely woke up a few neurons.

How Reading Lights Up Your Mind

Another article with anecdotal evidence about the value of reading (and meditation) for brain health.

Here’s what the article had to say about meditation:

“Meditation has long been studied to better understand how sustaining attention and focus affects the brain. Studies on mindfulness meditation, for example, show that parts of the brain associated with positive mood are activated with the practice of focusing attention.”

I have found this to be true.  Plus the sustained focus and attention carries over in all areas of life. Instead of re-acting to events (using stale beliefs about past experiences), we more mindfully choose how to spend our days.

Sally-BrownPerhaps by curling up with a good book.

And a cup of coffee.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related: Fight Brain Drain & Set Your Mind On Fire (Andra) * Your Brain On Jane (NPR) * Cross Train Your Brain

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