A-D

Hail Caesar

Redwood National Park
 This Month’s name is a tribute to Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome.
 More on the life of Augustus Caesar

August is a very quiet month unless you’re in Edinburgh, Scotland. In Edinburgh, the crowds increase dramatically for the Edinburgh Arts Festival and the simultaneous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I highly recommend both. This world has many great places and events to visit and I would include the Edinburgh Festival on that list.
 http://www.eif.co.uk/
 http://www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk/planning-for-edinburgh-festivals-2014
 https://www.edfringe.com/

Two other major events that start this week are the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (which is held the first full week in August in Sturgis, South Dakota, USA. http://www.sturgismotorcyclerally.com/

Redwood National Park

It is also the start of International Tree Climbing Days (August 1-5). There is even an international tree climbing competition (August 2, 2014 – August 3, 2014) held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
 http://www.itcc-isa.com/ competition

I’ve loved climbing trees since I was little. I’m not ready for a competition but was delighted to discover there is a tree-climbing association: Tree Climbers International.
 http://treeclimbing.com/
 http://treeclimbing.com/index.php/forum/index

I don’t know anything about motorcycles, but I’m very strong on tree facts. If anyone wants to teach me about motorcycles, I’m always excited to learn new things.

This month I’ll also be learning about peridot and sardonyx, the birthstones of August. The August flowers are gladiolus and poppy.

In summer, the song sings itself.” – William Carlos Williams

~lisa

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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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_(United_States)
http://www.egreenway.com/months/monjul.htm
http://www.usacitylink.com/usa/independence-day/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Armstrong

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration.html
http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Independence-Day.shtml
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

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A-D

Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer typically are in the months of July and August in the Northern Hemisphere (January and February in the Southern Hemisphere)

Arna

The term “dog days” comes from ancient Rome and even more ancient Greece. The name coincides with the rising of Sirius. Sirius is the brightest and most visible star in the night sky and is part of the constellation of Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius, the dog star, is one of the companions of Orion in Greek myth and in also in the constellation of Orion. The other companion of Orion is Canis Minor.

“Summer has set in with its usual severity.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Like Coleridge, the ancient Greeks were not fans of hot July. They attributed the hotness and woes of summer to the Dog Star, Sirius. The ancient Romans also believed that the star caused dogs to pant more and that it made all more susceptible to disease.

In other mythologies Sirius is also seen as a wolf, a coyote, a white horse, and I digress…

Back to the Western concept of the dog days of summer which means it’s July already.

“I came, I saw, I conquered.” – Julius Caesar
July was named after the ancient Roman Julius Caesar. I suggest William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar for summer reading or a jaunt to summer theater.

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“Experience is the teacher of all things.” – Julius Caesar

July’s birthstone is the ruby and the flowers are Water Lily and Larkspur. More on those in a later post.

 “The glowing Ruby should adorn
Those who in warm July are born,
Then will they be exempt and free
From love’s doubt and anxiety.”

“Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.” – Henry David Thoreau

~ lisa

Great site on the month of July. http://projectbritain.com/year/july.htm
July Trivia http://voices.yahoo.com/trivial-facts-july-6231792.html
Ten July Facts http://www.ten-facts.com/interesting_facts_about_july.html#.U3bULnQU_b0
How to see Sirius, the Dog Star http://earthsky.org/brightest-stars/sirius-the-brightest-star
Julius Caesar Biography – http://www.biography.com/people/julius-caesar-9192504#synopsis&awesm=~oIlfu0GBzbmZuj

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” – Sam Keen

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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

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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/

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A-D, Mythology

Anansi

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Anansi is perhaps the best known mythological figure out of Africa. He is a spider trickster god who can appear in any form he wishes, but most often his alternate form is that of a man.

His origins are said to be in the Ashanti tribe of West Africa in what is now Ghana, but he has become a common figure of folklore anywhere connected to where the slave trade went.

If you now hear a rapidly beating heart, and shallow breathing that is simply me trying to get through my Arachnophobia.

I’m not alone for it is one of the most common phobias, but knowing I’m one of a crowd doesn’t make it any easier.

Arachnophobia is an irrational and persistent fear of spiders, or in my case pictures of spiders, or mention of spiders or…

As I was saying Anansi is the most well-known figure of African folktales and myths. I cannot skip him.

Unfortunately, most cultures seem to have spider myths so I will be repeating this exercise in the future with Aunt Nancy, Spider Woman, Anasazi, Arachne, Nareau, Neith, Tsuchigumo, and Jorōgumo.

There are also giant fictional spiders such as Shelob (Tolkien) and Aragog (Rowling) and a number of these creatures in other popular stories such as Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web and the spider from Little Miss Muffet.

Attentive Bengal Sorry, there will be spider pictures in this post.

Back to Anansi.

In this post I’m only writing about the Ashanti Anansi. The stories of the Ashanti oral tradition are known as Anansesem or “Spider Tales”.

Once there were no stories in the world. Anansi’s father the Sky-God Nyame had them all of them. When Anansi asked for them, he was set the task of capturing 4 dangerous and elusive creatures (python, leopard, hornet, and dwarf).

Anansi tricked all of four and brought them to the Nyame. Nyame rewarded him by making him the god of all stories. Since then all stories have been dubbed “Spider Tales”.

Anansi is also known for trying to keep all of the wisdom of the world sealed in a pot, but he worried it was not safe enough so he tried to take it up a tree. He was not having much success and his son made fun of him and told Anansi how to actually get his hoard of wisdom up the tree.

Anansi dropped the pot and it shattered and spilt the wisdom into a stream and the stream took it to the sea. From the sea, the wisdom spread all around the world, so that there is now a little of it in everyone. I like that sentiment – “a little bit of wisdom in everyone”.

While he is an unpredictable trickster, Anansi is also responsible for creating the sun, the stars and the moon, as well as teaching mankind the techniques of agriculture.

The best one paragraph description of Anansi I have found is from Myths Encyclopedia – “West Africans originally considered Anansi to be the creator of the world. He often acted as a go-between for humans in their dealings with the sky god Nyame, and he supposedly persuaded Nyame to give both rain and the night to people. In most stories, however, Anansi is a crafty and cunning trickster who makes life more enjoyable for himself (or more difficult for others) by fooling humans, other animals, and even the gods themselves, often using his cleverness and knowledge of his victims’ ways of thinking to trick them and achieve his purpose.”http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Am-Ar/Anansi.html

One of my all-time favorite sources for Anansi and his tales (and you know it’s good if I can appreciate reading about a spider) http://www.angelfire.com/planet/mythguide/anansi.html

So next time you hear a good story remember to thank Anansi.
~lisa

A thorough look at Anansi http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Anansi
African Cultural Center folktales http://www.africanculturalcenter.org/5_4_3folktales.html
A great set of Anansi stories for kids http://anansistories.com/index.html

“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the Spider to the Fly.

A random fact to keep everyone with arachnophobia up at night: There are nearly 40,000 species of spiders worldwide.

“The difference between utility and utility plus beauty is the difference between telephone wires and the spider web.” – Edwin Way Teale

Kuri Headshot

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M-P, Writing

The “Write” Tools

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Once Upon a Time…

In the very distant past there was a need to show a thought, to communicate without words, to tally, to map, to represent and thus began a life-long affair with our writing instruments.

From the first mark in the dirt, on the cave wall, the clay tablet, papyrus and so many more mediums right up to the ballpoint pen, people have needed to communicate in a more permanent way than spoken words, in a way that complete strangers could understand.

I write. I collect pens. All types of pens. I play with ink.

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I bring all of this up because it is Ballpoint Pen Day. Perhaps I could write an ode to a ballpoint pen, but I feel more inclined towards a broader scope.

“There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write.” – William Makepeace Thackeray

There is some controversy still lingering over the patents of ballpoint pens. Some say the original patent was to John J. Loud on October 30, 1888. However he did not “commercialize” it and his patent lapsed. In the 30 years following, there were approximately 350 patents for ballpoint pins, but like Loud’s never “commercialized.

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” ― Edward L. Wheeler

“Anyone who thinks the pen is mightier than the sword has not been stabbed with both.” – Lemony Snicket (pen name of Daniel Handler)

See http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/ballpen.htm for a complete history of the ballpoint pen and the rivalries it inspired.

The most acknowledged and commercial patent for the ballpoint pen was filed on June 10, 1943. Thus June 10 is the unofficial ballpoint pen day.

“Pen-bereavement is a serious matter.” – Anne Fadiman

For most of history a “portable pen with its own ink” was merely a pipe dream.

There was the Greek stylus made of metal, bone or ivory made for marking wax-coated tablets.

“The pen is the tongue of the mind.” – Horace and “To hold a pen is to be at war.”- Voltaire

Horace, Voltaire, Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson etc. – All wrote without the modern convenience of a writing instrument with its own ink.

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For most of history (since 700 AD) the quill pen reigned supreme.

I have a couple of quill pens (not the real deal, but close enough in looks and function) and some bottles of ink.

It is difficult to wrap one’s mind around an writing instrument which not only takes a long time to produce but also would only withstand about a week’s worth of work.

For something made through so many centuries there was a science as to what feathers to take from which birds. Goose feathers being the most common, swan feathers being the premium pens and crow feathers for fine lines and many others for specific purposes. Fascinating.

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The quill pen was eventually phased out in favor of the fountain pen patented in 1867 by M. Klein and Henry W. Wynne.

Fountain pens had an ink chamber that for a short time would hold an ink supply. Revolutionary.

Fountain pens are beautiful works of art and nibs for them even more so.

Pen design took off in the 1970’s and expanded to highlighters, permanent markers and many more types of writing instruments.

“You want to be a writer, don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.” – Paul Simon

Every pen is different and we all have our favorites: the ones that are just right. What is your favorite pen?  What makes it your favorite?

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For all of you writers out there, every now and then take a break from the keyboard, pick up your favorite pen and put it to paper. It’s a different flow, a different rhythm and a way to experience your inner world quite unlike the tap of a keys.

It’s also a great way to break through writer’s block.

~lisa

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai

A great timeline of all writing implements http://www.ringpen.com/history.html
A very thorough history of the pen http://www.rickconner.net/penspotters/history.html
Pencil History http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blpen.htm
Ballpoint Pen history http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/ballpen.htm
Pen history http://www.ehow.com/about_4577279_history-pen.html

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http://www.fastcompany.com/1284673/ballpoint-pen-day “On this day in 1943, brothers Laszlo and Georg Bíró filed a patent for what’s now one of the world’s most common writing instruments. Others had tried to design a self-inking mechanical pen that rolled on a ball, with little success. The Bírós perfected the design, named it the Birome, and opened a pen shop in Argentina. In 1945, the pens went on sale in the U.S., at Gimbel’s in New York, for $12.50 each ($145, inflation adjusted). The store sold $125,000 worth on day one, and Bic, which bought the patent, has sold 100 billion-plus since 1950. Rolling, indeed. – ZW”http://www.fastcompany.com/1284673/ballpoint-pen-day

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