Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Beatrix Potter

The Queen's English

Hill Top, Near Sawrey, Hawkshead, Lake District, Cumbria, England.
The home of Beatrix Potter- This 17th-century farmhouse in the village of Near Sawrey is where Potter lived, wrote and based many of her best-loved stories.
Hill Top is a time capsule of Beatrix Potter's life. Full of her favourite things, the house appears as if Beatrix had just stepped out for a walk; “Hill Top is to be presented to my visitors,” she stated [to the National Trust] in her will, “as if I had just gone out and they had just missed me. Every room contains a reference to a picture in a 'Tale'. Beatrix used Hill Top and its surroundings as inspiration for many of her 'little books'
đź“· National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

Friday, 26 April 2019

The Unpublished Musings of Bruce Lee

By Maria Popova on Monday December 26th, 2016

Hidden Insights from a Martial Arts Movie Star

You will never get any more out of life than you expect. — Bruce Lee
Although Bruce Lee is best known for his legendary legacy in martial arts and film, he was also one of the most underappreciated philosophers of the twentieth century, instrumental in introducing Eastern traditions to Western audiences.
A philosophy major in college, he fused ancient ideas with his own singular ethos informed by the intersection of physical and psychological discipline, the most famous manifestation of which is his water metaphor for resilience.
Early in his career, Lee was systematically sidelined by Hollywood’s studio system, which operated with extreme racial bias and still used white actors to portray stereotypical Asian characters. Over and over, Lee was told in no uncertain terms that white audiences simply wouldn’t accept an Asian man as a lead character in a movie.
Bruce Lee was a famous martial artist, movie star and social icon.Bruce Lee was a famous martial artist, movie star and social icon.

Not Just Kung Fu

Even when he finally broke through and was cast as a lead, the studios continued to treat him as a brainless robot, there to entertain with his kung-fu skills.
When they tried to cut all the philosophy out of Enter the Dragon because they wanted a vacantly entertaining action movie, Lee refused to go on set for two weeks, insisting that the kung-fu and the philosophy were inextricably entwined, each the vehicle for the other.
Hollywood eventually had to relent and it was precisely the philosophical dimension that rendered the movie — just before the release of which Lee met his untimely death in 1973 — a cultural icon and a beacon of racial empowerment associated with the Black Power movement, later acquired by the Library of Congress as a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” artifact.
Alt text hereLee stood his ground for ancient philosophy amongst the glamour of Hollywood.

Mind And Body Philosophy

Lee saw philosophy as inseparable from everyday life, just as he saw the mind as inseparable from the body, each end of the battery constantly charging the other. He recorded his rigorous workout routine alongside his philosophical meditations, which he fleshed out in the course of living.
Even his handwriting, meticulously neat and measured to fit the tiny page, radiates Lee’s formidable discipline and orderliness.
Like Oliver Sacks, who carried a notebook everywhere, Lee always had a tiny 2×3″ pocketbook with him, which he filled with everything from training regimens to the phone numbers of his pupils (who included trainees like Chuck Norris and Steve McQueen), to poems, affirmations, and philosophical reflections. Even his handwriting, meticulously neat and measured to fit the tiny page, radiates Lee’s formidable discipline and orderliness.
Alt text hereLee carried a notebook with him everywhere to write down his daily musings.

Daily Discipline

But perhaps the most notable portion of his pocketbooks — or day timers, as they were called — were his affirmations, reminiscent of the rules of conduct Nobel laureate AndrĂ© Gide penned in his youthful journal, and of artist Eugène Delacroix’s diaristic self-counsel.
In these notes to himself, Lee articulated his personal philosophies aimed concretely at his own growth, but resonating with universally applicable insight into our common psychology, behavior, and human nature.
Alt text hereDiscipline was a large part of Lee’s thoughts on personal growth.

The 1968 Pocketbook

With special permission from the Bruce Lee estate, here is an exclusive look at several pages from his 1968 pocketbook, penned shortly before Lee’s twenty-eighth birthday, each transcribed below, beginning with Napoleon Hill’s “Daily Success Creed”, which Lee copied into his notebooks:

Will Power

Recognizing that the power of will is the supreme court over all other departments of my mind, I will exercise it daily, when I need the urge to action for any purpose; and I will form HABIT designed to bring the power of my will into action at least once daily.


Realizing that my emotions are both POSITIVE and negative I will form daily HABITS which will encourage the development of the POSITIVE EMOTIONS, and aid me in converting the negative emotions into some form of useful action.
Alt text hereThe pocketbooks reveal the depth of Lee’s philosophical musings.


Recognizing that both my positive and negative emotions may be dangerous if they are not controlled and guided to desirable ends, I will submit all my desires, aims and purposes to my faculties of reason, and I will be guided by it in giving expression to these.


Recognizing the need for sound PLANS and IDEAS for the attainment of my desires, I will develop my imagination by calling upon it daily for help in the formation of my plans.


Recognizing the value of an alert memory, I will encourage mine to become alert by taking care to impress it clearly with all thoughts I wish to recall, and by associating those thoughts with related subjects which I may call to mind frequently.
Alt text hereA page from Bruce Lee’s 1968 pocketbook.

Subconscious Mind

Recognizing the influence of my subconscious mind over my power of will, I shall take care to submit to it a clear and definite picture of my CLEAR PURPOSE in life and all minor purposes leading to my major purpose, and I shall keep this picture CONSTANTLY BEFORE my subconscious mind by REPEATING IT DAILY.


Recognizing that my emotions often err in their over-enthusiasm, and my faculty of reason often is without the warmth of feeling that is necessary to enable me to combine justice with mercy in my judgments, I will encourage my conscience to guide me as to what is right and what is wrong, but I will never set aside the verdicts it renders, no matter what may be the cost of carrying them out.
Alt text hereThese private musings combine the philosophies of the East and West.

East Meets West

When Lee felt that he had arrived at a particularly significant idea, he wrote it on the unlined back of a plain 3×5″ lined yellow notecard, which he signed, almost like a will or perhaps a contract with himself. He would often refine or copy reflections first recorded in his pocketbook onto the notecards reserved for only his firmest convictions and deepest dedications.
What makes the affirmations especially notable is that they fuse ancient philosophical and spiritual traditions (particularly Zen Buddhism’s ideas about character, the self, and the ego), questionable New Age magical thinking, and habits of mind which contemporary psychology has since proven fruitful — a reminder that our personhood is a mashup of our era and our culture, with all their inherent knowledges and ignorances, and it is the way we combine the elements at our disposal that makes us who we are.
Alt text hereLee wrote is most significant findings on notecards that he signed with his name.

Notecard Affirmations

You will never get any more out of life than you expect.
Keep your mind on the things you want and off those you don’t.
Things live by moving and gain strength as they go.
Be a calm beholder of what is happening around you.
There is a difference a) the world b) our reaction to it.
Be aware of our conditioning! Drop and dissolve inner blockage.
Inner to outer – we start by dissolving our attitude not by altering outer condition.
See that there is no one to fight, only an illusion to see through.
No one can hurt you unless you allow him to.
Inwardly, psychologically, be a nobody.
Alt text hereThe writings show us how to cultivate our truest selves and live in harmony.

Never Stop Striving

Definite Purpose

I know that I have the ability to ACHIEVE the object of my DEFINITE PURPOSE in life; therefore I DEMAND of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment, and I here and now promise to render such action.

Dominating Thoughts

I realize the DOMINATING THOUGHTS of my mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward, physical action, and gradually transform themselves into physical reality; therefore I will CONCENTRATE my thoughts for 30 min. daily upon the task of thinking of the person I intend to become, thereby creating in my mind a clear MENTAL PICTURE.
Alt text here“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself.” – Bruce Lee


I know through the principle of autosuggestion, any desire that I PERSISTENTLY hold will eventually seek expression through some practical means of attaining the object back of it; therefore, I will devote 10 min. daily to DEMANDING of myself the development of SELF-CONFIDENCE.

Life Direction

I have clearly written down a description of my DEFINITE CHIEF AIM in life, and I will never stop trying until I shall have developed sufficient self-confidence for its attainment.

Speak positively to kids about the weather

boy playing in the rain
CC BY 2.0 Mark Ordonez – A little boy plays in the rain outside the Smithsonian National Museum of American History – and why not?
The words we choose affect their desire to play outside.
My children and I are eagerly waiting for spring to show up. Saturday was warm and promising, but snow started falling again on Sunday, and when the time came to walk to school on Monday morning, we were trudging through an inch of wet slush, our moods reflected in the grey landscape around us.
It is hard to stay positive when you haven't seen the sun much in five months, but it's necessary. Kids have to be taught to have a positive attitude toward the outdoors, or else they will be reluctant to spend time there. It all starts with the language parents use to describe it.
Adults (or at least all the Canadians in my life) have a tendency to bash the weather. They complain about it to friends, at the grocery store, with the crossing guard. Not often enough do they think about how kids pick up on this, both what's said explicitly and subtly, and internalize it. It's time for adults to think about how they want kids to view the weather and outdoors and pick their words accordingly.
Recently I've come across a few helpful posts on this topic. One is from a blog called How We Montessori, where a mother acknowledges her tendency to speak negatively about weather and dirt, specifically. She writes, "I often find myself using negative language around the weather and dirt! 'Oh no, you fell into the puddle,' 'Oh yuck, you are covered in mud,' 'It's raining a-g-a-i-n!'"
The mother, who now lives in England and says they'd spend all their time indoors if they tried to avoid rain and cold, realizes the importance of changing this.
"We want our children to explore nature, to feel with all of their senses including touch, for many children this will involve getting dirty. Positive language can lead to positive associations, we can change our attitude, outlook and mood with words."
She suggests assessing one's inner dialogue about the weather. Then, try to use descriptive scientific language such as "The wind is coming from the North" or "Look at the Cirrus cloud." Neutral or positive language is good, too: "Can you feel how wonderful and squelchy this mud is?" or "This rain is so refreshing, it feels nice on my face."
walking with boys in the rain© K Martinko – A rainy forest walk
Backwoods Mama is another blogger who offers a lengthy list of ways to talk positively to kids about weather. The benefits go beyond just getting them out of the house for an hour: "A positive mindset around weather helps our kids learn resilience, preparedness and flexibility which will benefit them throughout their life."
Use simple, neutral, and/or positive terms to describe the day, then make suggestions for activities that ignite curiosity and enthusiasm about it. For example:
"The thermometer says it’s below 0°C (32°F) outside. I wonder what Jack Frost has been up to outside? Let’s go find out."
"Oh my! All this rain is perfect for making mud pies."
"The wind is swirling leaves through the air. Let’s go see if we can catch them."
"There’s fog outside! We can go walking through clouds."
These are all fabulous suggestions that will hopefully inspire you to come up with your own ideas. (You could try throwing in some of these profoundly beautiful words that describe nature and landscapes while you're at it.) Fake it till you make it, and hopefully you, too, will soon realize that there's no such thing as 'bad' weather, just another wonderful day to explore.

Male emperor penguins are good dads

In fact, they’re one of nature’s best animal dads. This month – autumn in Antarctica – their breeding cycle begins. But there’s still a long winter ahead.

Standing penguin looking down at large shiny egg between its black feet.
Male emperor penguin incubating an egg just prior to hatching in mid-July. Photo via Robyn Mundy/Australian Antarctic Division.
During the summer in the Southern Hemisphere – from about December to February – emperor penguins in Antarctica are at sea fattening up on squid, fish, and krill. As autumn approaches in March, the emperors leave the water and begin a long trek to one of several breeding colonies. The breeding cycle begins around now – the month of April, autumn in Antarctica – when penguins mate on the reforming sea ice. Each female produces a single egg. She transfers the egg to her mate, then leaves to spend winter in the open ocean.
During Antarctica’s winter – a frigid night four months long – male emperor penguins huddle by the hundreds in the snow. The male penguins guard the eggs and keep them warm. Each male penguin puts his egg on his feet. He covers it with a fold of skin. In this way, he keeps it warm at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) while the outside temperatures can drop well below -30 degrees F (?35 degrees C).
For 65 days, each bird incubates an egg, huddled in large colonies with only feathers, fat, and each other to stay warm. The eggs may begin to hatch in July, but the male penguins’ winter vigil won’t end until around August when the sun peeks over the horizon.
By the time the female returns, sleek and full of food, the male may have lost 45 percent of his body weight. Ravenously hungry, he leaves to feed at sea. The offspring grow rapidly in summer when food at sea is plentiful. By December, the chicks are on their own.
Five years from now, if they survive in their ocean home, the young penguins will return to become parents themselves.
Penguin with orange head markings leans over small fuzzy gray & black chick.
Emperor penguin chick. Photo via Gary Miller/Australian Antarctic Division.
Bottom line: The story of male emperor penguins, who sit for a long winter on their eggs.

Cemetery Culture

Cemetery Culture

Captain Hook gravesite in Old Brick Cemetery in Morgan County between Stockport and McConnellsville (Ohio). Legend has it that he designed the tombstone to be rounded so his wife couldn't dance on his grave when he died, as she said she would!
Cemetery Culture


The Fairies are performing, underneath, a moon of gold.
A tightrope walker walks a strand of web, with no hand-hold.
Up, on her tip-toes, daintily, she dances her ballet!
Then turns about, to cheers and shouts, and makes a new foray!
The spiders looking on, while she, upon their webs, makes merry, all marvel, at the gracefulness, displayed, by this small Fairy!
For, only two small legs, has she, compared, to ample eight!
Yet, sure of foot, she surely is, web-surfer, she, first-rate!
It's true, that she has wings, and yet, she makes them flutter, not, but shows her other aptitudes, that earned her center spot!
Donna L. Ferguson Dudley copyright 2015
Art, by David Delamare "Cobweb" 2003

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Yes, you do have time to eat well

fancy picnic
Public Domain MaxPixel
It's a question of scheduling.
Here's an interesting thought. Perhaps the struggle to cook meals from scratch and eat them with others is not because we lack time but because we're scheduling it poorly. In an article for the Financial Times, food writer Bee Wilson makes the following suggestion:
"When we say we are lacking in time to eat well, what we often mean is that we lack synchronised time to eat, which is a question of timing rather than absolute minutes and hours."
Not long ago, set mealtimes were a given. People had breakfast in the mornings, workplaces and schools had defined lunch breaks, and almost everyone sat down at the table for dinner. If these rituals didn't happen, it was an aberration from the norm.
Now a 'normal' meal schedule hardly exists. Modern life has become so busy, so packed with activities that happen at all hours of the day, that formal mealtimes have lost their places of importance. Because we feel so busy, we've convinced ourselves that there is no time to cook.
But, as Wilson points out, this makes no sense. Americans are working less than they used to, so finding time to prepare food shouldn't be an issue, in theory.
"In 1900, the average American worked 2,700 hours a year. By 2015 the average American worked just 1,790 hours a year and probably owned a kitchen containing whizzy time-saving gadgets that his or her ancestors could only dream of. Compared with many of the workers of the past, the average worker today is swimming in time. Except, it seems, in time for food."
Breakfast has been replaced by smoothies on the go (on a good day). Lunch is viewed as a disruption, or a chance to work out, shop, or simply continue to answer emails while eating a bag of chips with one hand.
Even schools are devaluing lunch, which sends a damaging message to kids. A high school in China eliminated seats in its cafeteria last year, in hopes that students would eat faster and get back to studying. Wilson describes primary schools in Ireland that give children only ten minutes to eat while standing on the playground or filling out worksheets.
Then there's the after-school extracurricular craze, with families driving children to tutoring, music lessons, sports, play dates. It's almost impossible to get everyone in the same place at the same time, so what incentive is there for a parent to cook a nice meal? Snacking appears the easier option.
Wilson writes that this loss of communal mealtime is disorienting and harmful to the human psyche.
"Like religious worship, or news on the radio, eating used to punctuate the day at certain set moments. Even if you were eating lunch alone, you knew that much of the country was doing the same thing at that exact same moment, and this imbued your solitary meal with a particular social rhythm."
We can reclaim this sense of community by rearranging our days and fighting the tendency to schedule shared eating time out of existence. We can, and should, defend formal mealtimes because they give order and meaning to our days, force us to pause and feel refreshed, and give us the chance to eat well and interact with others. Eating communally, Wilson says, has the counterintuitive effect of making us feel rich in time.
The time is there; we're just using it in the wrong ways. A good first step is to replace social media scrolling time (or TV-watching) with food prep. We all know how quickly fifteen minutes can disappear when we're looking at Instagram feeds. Reallocate that time to something purposeful like cooking.
A more drastic step is to refuse to schedule activities around meal times. My family does this, or we adjust our communal eating time to fit, i.e. on soccer nights we have an early dinner, on piano nights a later one, but family dinner always happens.
Value your meals. Take them seriously. They will make you a happier, healthier person.

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

Big Soft Ginger Cookies Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large Eggland's Best egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Additional sugar


  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  • Roll into 1-1/2-in. balls, then roll in sugar. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° until puffy and lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  • Test Kitchen Tips
  • The difference between these soft ginger cookies and the crispy kind you use to construct a holiday gingerbread house has to do with the leavening agent. (Think: yeast, baking soda or baking powder.) Leave out the baking soda in this recipe and the cookies will come out hard and crisp.
  • For less mess, coat your measuring cups in cooking spray before portioning it out.


A Fox, and kits, a home, have found, a place, part, of enchanted ground.
They're safe, protected, from all harm; they live, in peace, 'neath Fairies' charm!
No hunter, with his baying hounds, will portal, find, for door is bound,
with spell, to keep all danger, 'way, for fierce, in love, are hearts, of Fae!
The foxes, to escape the death, that stalks them, when men's hearts, bereft, of pity, hunt, for wicked sport, have desperate need, of secret port!
Safe Mama fox draws in, sweet air, in happiness, beyond compare.
And her kits play, free, from the fear, that haunted her, 'fore she came, here.
Above them, little Fairies fly, and sing sweet, lilting lullabies, and babbling brook, its secrets, shares, with fat green frog, who's listening, there.
Wildflowers, purple, send their scent, to waft, in airy element,
and bless the eye, with hue's delight, and cuddle Fairies, close, at night.
An ancient Tree, great power, unleashed, has grown huge roots, around that niche, that portal, where pure joy is found, that portal, to enchanted ground!
And Fairies, through that portal, flit, to creatures, find, in need, of it,
and lead them, to where sweet peace reigns, and where, they'll ne'er feel fear, again!
Donna L. Ferguson Dudley, copyright 2019 4/23/19
Art, by Susan Schroder Arts