E-H, Exercise, Writing

Five Minutes


A second, a split second, or a few seconds and one’s life can be irrevocably changed for better or for worse.


These instances are a fact of life that happen to all of us, but second in importance in matter of time is the lowly, easy five minutes.

Five minutes can turn a life around. A five minute commitment can dissolve excuses and launch us into the future we want.

150215-TG3-2150353I realize that some of you have your lives completely together, but for many of us the five minute rule can make all the difference. It’s not instantaneous, but it works.

A chief excuse for all of us when we want to add something in our lives comes to down to the time we must sacrifice for the new idea. There is never enough time. We are harried, over-booked, and often too exhausted to take up that which matters most to us (The excuses blog post will be coming soon).


Examples of applying that extra five minutes to our lives:

Many of us when we want to achieve fitness, so we join a gym, drive there, drive on to the next destination and get in those work-outs. Many resolutions start that way and many fail so try the five minute method.

If the drive there and back takes too much time, decide what you can do at home. For the price of a gym membership (which are great it you use them), you can buy a few things you can use at your house (no commute time) or even some major gym equipment for your house. The problem still comes down to the commitment to use it.

I suggest the five minute increment step. If we think about it, we can all spare five minutes. Start with getting dressed for a work out, walk to your work out space, say hello to it, and then return to your daily life. Less than five minutes. Once you have those five minutes mastered, take five minutes and pick up your weights, sit on your machine, or roll out your mat. Less than five minutes. Make it a routine.

I can almost guarantee that you will quickly become annoyed with this routine. Don’t give up on it. Since you’re already down there, spend five minutes on your intended exercise. Even five minutes a day of exercise is better than none. Your muscles will start learning the expectations. Thus habits are made.

Five minutes is not just for exercise.


Try five minutes for writing. Show up. Get the computer, laptop, or paper out. Say hello to it. Less than five minutes. Next step set a timer and write for five minutes. Every day, you can afford five minutes of time. Soon the new habit of showing up will extend in five minute increments to the time you need or want.

Try five minutes for walking, bike riding, gardening, reading, or playing with the co-inhabitants of your household whether they are dogs, cats, parrots or any other companion you’ve adopted.

Spend five minutes talking to your significant other or your child or your friend. Not five minutes of multi-processing, but five minutes of sole focus and eye contact and really listening to what they have to say. Let those five minutes incrementally increase. The desire becomes the habit and habit becomes what you really want out of life.

Think about what you really, truly want out of life and then show up. Five minutes is all it takes to start.


IMG_4504-smallAs hard as it may be.




Embrace Your Geekness Day

Every July 13th is Embrace Your Geekness Day

Pickett Slide Rule

“There are many categories of geeks, such as: science geeks, math geeks (maths geeks, in British English), computer geeks, history geeks, gaming geeks, etc.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geek

“Enjoy Embrace Your Geekness Day to the fullest. Spend plenty of time with your computer. Talk computer lingo and jargon. If you are a geek, stand tall and proud. Isn’t it great to be so brilliant and gifted!?”http://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/July/geeknessday.htm

May we all enjoy “geeking out” today.

Pickett Slide Rule

E-H, People

Happy 4th

Fourth of July over Cottage Lake

“The United States is the only country with a known birthday.” ~James G. Blaine

Happy Independence Day

“Liberty is the breath of life to nations.” ~George Bernard Shaw

“We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.” -Robert J. McCracken

Full skies

Also on this day:

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804. A novelist and short story writer and the source of lots of great quotes.
Two of my favorite Hawthorne quotes:

“Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so or not”.- Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

And on to another favorite
“To jazz, or not to jazz, there is no question!” – Louis Armstrong

July 4th is also the birthday of Louis Armstrong. He was an incredible musician. Enjoy some of his great jazz music today.

“If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” – Louis Armstrong

Be safe and enjoy ~lisa

Starburst on the Fourth


The Fourth of July, or Independence Day, is a federal holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  Fireworks,  Firework Laws by State,  Fireworks Safety,  National Mall Celebration,  Find Celebrations at National Parks – http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Independence-Day.shtml

“We all do ‘do, re, mi,’ but you have got to find the other notes yourself.” – Louis Armstrong

Books, E-H

Harry Potter Still Rules

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling was released on June 30th 1997.  (Also published in some countries, like the United States, as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

“I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, and all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who did not know he was a wizard became more and more real to me.”- J.K. Rowling

An inspiration to us all. ~ lisa

Official Site http://www.jkrowling.com/
Timeline http://www.jkrowling.com/en_GB/text
J.K. Rowling biography http://www.jkrowling.com/en_GB/about-jk-rowling/biography

Berne Botts Every Flavor Beans

E-H, Holidays

Father’s Day 2014

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano

Father’s Day acknowledges and appreciates the important role played by a father in raising the child.

Some say Father’s Day is a very old concept brought to the forefront of modern thought by the efforts of Ms. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Washington State, USA.

There is the archaeological story of a 4000 year old clay card given from a young boy, Elmesu, to his Babylonian father.

Ms. Dodd got the idea for Father’s day in a 1909 sermon on Mother’s Day. Her father raised six children on his own and she started her campaign to honor fathers as well as mothers.

In the United States, President Woodrow Wilson approved of the festival in 1916, President Calvin Coolidge also went on record in support of the holiday, but it wasn’t until 1966 that there was a Presidential Proclamation, made by President Lyndon Johnson, declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day.

In 1972 Richard Nixon signed it into a permanent national observance. It only took 63 years for it become official.

I have been fortunate enough to raise two children with the world’s best dad. He has always shared equally in the responsibilities of childrearing. He has always challenged our children to be their best, always believed in them, and always been there for them.

I miss my own father and wish he was still here.

Don’t wait to tell your dad how much he means to you. Every year and all through the year. You never know how much precious time you will have.

So grab your neckties, your soap on the rope and those beautiful handmade gifts and let your dads know how much you mean to them.

Or better yet, remember this year Father’s Day falls on Nature Photography Day. Grab a camera and take your dad for a walk.

~ lisa

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North American Nature Photography Association http://www.nanpa.org/nature_photography_day.php
Father’s Day history http://www.fathersdaycelebration.com/

Author, Books, E-H, People, Uncategorized

“Elementary,” said he.

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

The above is one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes quotes.

Sir Author Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859. Today I celebrate his birthday and one of the most famous duos of literature, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

I can’t imagine anyone not being captured by the premise and ideas of the stories of Sherlock Holmes. I suppose there are some, but none I know.

Contrary to popular belief, Conan Doyle never wrote the line “Elementary, my dear Watson.”


“Excellent!” I cried. “Elementary,” said he.” – Sir Author Conan Doyle. This quote is about as close as it gets to the common conception. First appearance of the popular non-Doyle phrase was in Psmith Journalist in 1915.

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Besides Sherlock Holmes and non-fiction, Doyle wrote in a wide variety of genres including fantasy, science fiction, poetry, romance, historical novels and plays.

His fantasy, The Lost World was turned into a TV series Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1999-2002) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0240278/

A complete and accessible list of all of Sir Author Conan Doyle’s literary works: http://www.online-literature.com/doyle/

Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes characters have appeared in many forms through the years: Besides the books, there are Sherlock Holmes comic books, music (“Sherlock Holmes” by Sparks), radio shows, television shows, video games and movies.

The best site for everything about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his literary works is the official website of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/

Sherlock Holmes

“Rivers of ink have flowed since 1887, when Sherlock Holmes was first introduced to the world, in an adventure entitled A Study in Scarlet.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate

“Most of the great detective’s fans know him so well, that they feel they have actually met him. It would therefore be presumptuous to try and define him here, as his many friends and admirers may each have very different views about this legendary personage.”- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate

Modern Day Sherlock Holmes exist in blockbuster movies and contemporary television shows.



Have I missed any contemporary shows? My daughter’s favorite show is Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch who she says is the best portrayal of the super sleuth she’s ever seen (sorry RDJr).

One of my favorite stories about the author (see complete story at http://www.siracd.com/life/life_ski.shtml) begins with: “It seems odd to think of a time when people didn’t ski in Switzerland. However when Conan Doyle arrived in Switzerland in 1893, with his first wife, Louise, that was the situation.”

140521 -  - medium-3140521 -  - medium-4

Two favorite Sherlock Holmes quotes on Rainbow Hill are:

“You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.” – Sherlock Holmes (I often wish I could say this)

And this quote appeals to the engineering half of the family:

“Come, Watson, come!’ he cried, “The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!” “Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.”

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month so I will take this aside to mention Sir Author Conan Doyle’s father, Charles Altamont Doyle, who struggled with mental illness which included spending some of his last years at a lunatic asylum.

Hopefully we are more enlightened now in the way the mind works and can show the same compassion to those struggling with mental illness as Conan Doyle did in his biography.

“My father’s life was full of the tragedy of unfulfilled powers and of underdeveloped gifts.  He had his weaknesses, as all of us have ours, but he also had some very remarkable and outstanding virtues.” – Sir Author Conan Doyle http://www.siracd.com/life_father.shtml  http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may

What are your favorite Sherlock Holmes tropes, characters, quotes and shows?

“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people do not know.”

Now that is the business to be in!!


A cool BBC cult page for Sherlock Holmes fanatics: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/sherlock/

The biography at http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/ is an excellent read full of quotes from Sir Author Conan Doyle.

Another excellent site devoted to the life and work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: http://www.siracd.com/

There are so many excellent Sherlock Holmes quotes, many lines of which have made it into our everyday vernacular. Try these sites for a start:







H is for HarringtonH is for Haettenschweller

H=Harrington was designed by Sam Wang in 1991,

H=Haettenschweiler was designed by Walter Haettenschweiler


I love hummingbirds and I’m fortunate enough to have these energetic little birds around my home. Sorry Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and Antarctica, hummingbirds are only found in the Americas. The smallest hummingbird, the Bee Hummingbird, is the smallest of all birds. It measures about 5 cm.

I find hummingbirds among the prettiest of birds. I think this site will give you a good idea why: http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=hummingbirds&qpvt=hummingbirds&FORM=IGRE

  Hovering Hummingbird

The hummingbird mythologies are poorly documented since most of the legends about them come from oral traditions and archaeology. Here are a few that are known:

The Aztec god Huitzilopochtli is usually portrayed as a hummingbird. This strikes my sensibilities as strange since Huitzilopochchtli was their god of war, their sun god, and their god of death. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised for our hummingbirds are a very feisty, aggressive lot.  Far more on information on Huitzilopochtli  can be found at these sites




Now on to the Nazca lines in Peru. One of the most famous is the hummingbird image.

The Nazca Lines (huge Nazca geoglyphs that need to be seen from higher elevations) are located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. There are 300 figures, but among the most famous is the hummingbird.



Has anyone been there? Is this as fantastic as I think?

Hummingbird in Flight

The Ohlone legend is that Hummingbird brought fire to the world. The Mayan legend is that the hummingbird is the sun in disguise. In Mojave legend the hummingbird sought out the path to light from the darkness that the people lived. And thus it goes one native legend to another.

Breakfast time at the Feeder

There is so much more on hummingbirds than I can share in one post. We will revisit these beautiful creatures in the future.


Bengal Cat Pictures, E-H


G is for Garamond

Garamond named after Claude Garamond was first used in 1530 and later released in 1621 by Jean Jannon.

I discovered this website a little late for St. Patrick’s day, but it fits with the theme of this blog and the rainbows in it are truly beautiful. http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/climate-weather/blogs/10-glorious-rainbows-to-get-you-in-the-spirit-of-st-patricks-day


Most people have a love/hate relationship with grammar. Overall it annoys everyone at one time or another. We all have our pet peeves and we all have our moments of complete rebellion.

Grammar, itself, is pretty innocuous. In its broadest aspect, it is the science of how we use words, but there are prescriptive and descriptive camps. And then there are the linguists. I’ll explore linguistics in a later blog.

The prescriptive camp says how we should speak and write. It holds us to the rules and accepted standards of correctness. There are specific guidelines (laws) on how we use the parts of language in a sentence.

The descriptive camp says that we should look at how language is used and adjust the guidelines to fit the usage.

I’m on the fence. Bengal Security


As anyone who reads this blog can see, I like to start sentences with conjunctions. It’s my style. It is also grammatically incorrect. I often leave the subject of a sentence assumed instead of named and I defiantly split infinitives.

But then there are my pet peeves. They’re, their, and there are completely different words. So are your and you’re. Its and it’s also drive me crazy. See the bottom of this post if you wish further edification.

Bengal Security

Grammar is not a uniquely American torture/passion.

As far as I can tell from my research, the first attempts to study grammar began in about the 4th century B.C. in India. Does anyone have different data?

The Greeks, and then the Romans, studied grammar through philosophy. The Greek and Latin grammars focused on defining parts of speech.

There are people who say grammar is simple. These people say there are eight parts-of-speech and that is all we need to know.

These eight parts-of-speech are: noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection. I say “yeah, right.”

Others say there are only two essential parts of a sentence: the subject and the predicate. Also too simple for me.

Then there are the very large and even larger grammar and punctuation guidebooks. The Chicago Manual of Style, The AP Style Book, MLA Guidebook, are just a few of the styles of writing put out there to mold our public discourse, written and spoken.

There are classics like The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, one of the must-haves for any writer. As a writer I have a little more than a couple of shelves full of grammar books. Some of my favorites are:

The Elephants of Style: A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English, and Lapsing into a Comma: a Curmudgeons Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong in Print – and How to Avoid Them. Both of these books are brilliantly written by Bill Walsh.

Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose, and Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing. Both of these books brilliantly written by Constance Hale.

The Transitive Vampire: a Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon

Then there are the books that are a little obsolete, but quite responsible for trying to tie English into the grammars of more erudite languages such as Latin. Those prescriptive Latin rules still plague us to this day.

Pamphlet for Grammar by William Bullokar in 1586.

Proposal for Correcting, Improving, & Ascertaining the English Tongue by Jonathan Swift in 1712

A dictionary of the English Language…: to which is prefixed, a Grammar of the English Language by Samuel Johnson in 1766.

A Grammatical Institute of the English Language by Noah Webster in 1804

A Grammar of the English Language, In a Series of Letters by William Cobbett in 1818

Sentence Diagrams. A fairly concise history of sentence diagraming can be found at the following website. http://www.polysyllabic.com/?q=olddiagrams Sentence diagraming is an exquisite form of torture in which the parts of a sentence are broken down to their parts of speech e.g. noun, adverb, adjective etc.

Which circles me back to the question of split infinitives.In Latin (& in other languages such as French and Spanish) an infinitive cannot be split, it’s impossible. In English it is considered a grammatical crime. A split infinitive is when you place a word between the basic infinite of a verb. The famous example being “To boldly go” in which the “to go” has been separated by the word “boldly”.

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/what-is-a-split-infinitive/ has the best discussion of split infinitives I have found.

And now back to my pet peeves.


They’re = They are

Their = the possessive. It belongs to them

There = where. You are giving a location

Your = the possessive. If you can say “you are” then you want “you’re”

You’re = You are. If you can’t say “you are” then you want “your”

It’s = It is. If you can say it is then you can use “it’s”. If not then use the possessive.

Its = the possessive. You are saying that the item belongs to it.


What are your pet peeves?A pari of bengals


So now that I have discovered that I CAN talk about grammar all day, I will cease and desist … for now.

One of my favorite grammar blogs: http://www.grammarly.com/blog/2014/grammar-madness/

My penultimate statement is to remember to celebrate Grammar Day 2014 (July 4, 2014). It is perhaps unlikely any of us will get to the British Library to celebrate, but it is a good site to follow. It is presented by UCL and Oxford University in association with the British Library. http://www.bl.uk/whatson/events/event160391.html

Finally one of the best counterpoints for prescriptive grammar. http://stancarey.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/language-police-check-your-privilege-and-priorities/

loki 1 30 14 – lisa





F is for FangsongF is for French Script
I love the name of this font, Fangsong. For me it evokes all sorts of images that I doubt have anything at all to do with the font. It comes from a Chinese company by the name of C & C Joint Printing Co., (HK) Ltd.

My research into this company, trying unsuccessfully to find the creator of the font, lead me to this very interesting site about Chinese fonts in the computer world: http://epeuthutebetes.wordpress.com/2008/01/21/chinese-serif-italics/. I especially like the discussion of how one tackles the problem of trying to italicize Chinese characters.

French Script by Stephenson Blake, 1905. I simply adore the look of this font.
Finally on fonts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_typefaces, a place that lists a great many typefaces by type.

You would think this would be an easy subject. I write fantasy, I read fantasy, and my imagination runs wild along fantastic lines of thought. This is one of my favorite subjects, but where to start in defining and explaining it?

Fantasy is something produced by imagination that is somehow removed from a semblance of known realities. It is fiction and often features strange settings, rules that fly in the face of traditional science or concrete beliefs and yet are made real enough that when the reader immerses themselves in the story they believe every word.

WizardFantasy is child’s play

It is also advanced visions, social commentary, satire, and almost assuredly something that has very little chance of every happening. If you prefer the things that have the illusion of possibility then reading science fiction will plunge you more into worlds where it is easier to suspend disbelief. Fantasy is an impractical or unrealistic idea made real.

While it’s true that by definition all fiction is made-up, in fantasy there is an extra step out of the realm of believability. Unicorn

A very good site that dissects the elements of fantasy in today’s mediums: http://www.k12.hi.us/~mkunimit/MKt3/fantasy3.htm..

Originally fantasy sprung from themes found in myth and folklore, but the genre now includes all variations of imagination. Today’s fantasy makes its own rules. There can be magic, talking animals, themes and creatures from myth & folklore, other worlds, science, speculative, dystopian, cross-overs into other realms such as romance and horror, and many more. The limit is the imagination of the writer.

We will revisit fantasy many times over the life of this blog. I can tell you the bare-bones of what the genre is, but to fully comprehend the joy, the life, the child’s play that so many of us have forgotten, is to take a dip in the pool, run with someone else’s dreams and visions, and then to make your own.

Green Dragon
My hope on sparking even more creativity is to once again visit the World Fantasy Convention. I’ve only done so once, and would love to do so again.

There are many smaller, more accessible conventions and these too are well worth the immersion into fantastical worlds and the people who dream them, draw them, discuss them, map them, and can explain the joys they’ve found in particular worlds.

http://worldfantasy2014.org/. This year the convention is in Washington DC, November 6 to November 9.

This one also looks like fun: http://www.fantasycon2014.org/ City of York in England, September 5 through September 11.

If these are too soon for adequate planning, prep and reading, then you can find some of the next ones in the queue or closer to your region at these sites:

http://www.conventionscene.com/schedules/scifiandfantasyconventions/ One stop shopping for a convention near you.

Where do you go for creativity?  Where are the best conventions and places to share your love and enthusiasm for the fantastical arts? What inspires you?


Eagles I

E is for Elephant
The Elephant font was designed by Matthew Carter.  I like this font since to me it has all the heaviness and bearing as the animal for which it was named.
I also, with much glee, found out there is, and this is really cool, a typography museum. http://abc.planet-typography.com/


“May you soar on eagle wings, high above the madness of the world.”: – Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Eagles are a large bird of prey found in myth around the world. The eagle is found on all continents except for Antarctica. For most the eagle is a symbol of power and strength.   Not for all though – see the aborigine version.

“Celebrate your success and stand strong when adversity hits, for when the storm clouds come in, the eagles soar while the small birds take cover” – Napoleon Hill.

The USA is not the only country that uses the eagle as a symbol.

Many countries use the eagles of various types on their coat of arms including Albania, Armenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Navarre, Nigeria, Palestine, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Syria, Yemen, and Zambia. The Great Seal of the United States is, of course, an eagle.

(And…deep breath)
The eagle has also been used by Egypt’s Ptolemaic pharaohs, Napoleon I, the Persian Empire, Charlemagne, Byzantine Empire, Ottoman’s Turks and many more. They were also used on the standards for the Roman legions. That’s it for the book report section.

“Eagles don’t flock, you have to find them one at a time” – H. Ross Perot

Eagle at the zooNow on to the myth.

It is an eagle who carries the Sumerian king Etana to the heavens to look for the tree of life. http://codex99.com/typography/1.html Where else to find better information than typography?

In Vedic mythology, the eagle is Garuda (half-man, half-eagle), the serpent-swallower. He is the king of the birds and the destroyer of snakes.

In Norse mythology Thiassi, the storm-bringer, often takes the form of an eagle. Thiassi is a frost-giant who convinced Loki to steal the Apples of Immortality (Odin told Loki to put the apples back).

Just wanted to break this up with a picture of a cute cats –TLC, Bengal style Now back t0 eagles.

The patron animal of the Greek god Zeus is an eagle.The Ganymede myth is one of the best known wherein Zeus took the form of an eagle to abduct Ganymede. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/ganymede.html

A gigantic eagle was set by Zeus to feed on the ever-regenerating liver of Prometheus after he was chained to the peak of Mount Kaukasos as punishment for stealing fire from the gods.

And Jupiter (the Roman equivalent of Zeus) believed that the Eagle could look directly into the sun.

I love the fact that among the Australian Aborigines the eagle is not the symbol of strength, but a type of bogey-man used to threaten children into good behavior.

Finally, in astrology the eagle is the highest aspect of the sign Scorpio.

Take this as a little motivation to unfurl your eagle wings and fly as high as you can.  We can all catch the thermals and fly above the crowds (clouds) if we try.

” You cannot fly like an eagle with the wings of a wren. “– William Henry Hudson.

“Don’t quack like a duck, soar like and eagle.: – Ken Blanchard

And for those of you who can’t wait for the next blog installment of eagles and myth here are some great sites to visit.

– lisa