National Ballpoint Pen Day

June 10th of each year is National Ballpoint Pen Day. This particular day marks the anniversary of the patent filing for the instrument on June 10, 1943. The pen was patented by Brothers Laszlo and Gyorgy Biro, and you will sometimes hear this type of pen referred to as a biro.

Later, the patent rights were purchased by the British Parliament and the pens were used by the Royal Air Force during World War II. The ballpoint pen serves two major functions that makes them so important: the ball acts as a cap to close in the ink and keep it from drying, and the ball lets the user control the rate at which the ink comes out of the pen. These two innovations came in very handy for the Royal Air Force because the ballpoint pens could be used without a problem at high altitudes with reduced pressure. The fountain pens they had previously used, flooded.

Although available readily and inexpensively now, in the beginning, the pens were luxury items. In 1945, the pens first 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.

Many writers still use pens to write rather than keyboards. I’m happy to produce fun things like this blog directly from keyboard to screen, but if I’m writing for more serious reasons, I usually write it out first. There’s something about pen and paper that’s different than a keyboard, perhaps the slower pace of getting down the words.

When I was traveling last year, the souvenir I most often bought to remember a place was a pen. They are small, portable, useful, and often quite creative. The graphic  below is like one I bought in England.

A few fun facts about ballpoint pens

  • 125 ballpoint pens are sold every second.
  • An average person in the United States uses 4.3 pens annually.
  • A ballpoint pen has a lifespan of about 50,000 words.


Quotes about pens

Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword.
–Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Anyone who thinks the pen is mightier than the sword has not been stabbed with both.–Lemony Snicket (When Did You See Her Last?)

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

Muses are fickle, and many a writer, peering into the voice, has escaped paralysis by ascribing the creative responsibility to a talisman: a lucky charm, a brand of paper, but most often a writing instrument. Am I writing well? Thank my pen. Am I writing badly? Don’t blame me blame my pen. By such displacements does the fearful imagination defend itself.–Anne Fadiman (Ex Libris)

Pen-bereavement is a serious matter.–Anne Fadiman (Ex Libris)

I used to always read with a pen in my hand, as if the author and I were in a conversation.–Tara Bray Smith

When the lyrical muse sings the creative pen dances.–Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium)

Never let anyone use your toothbrush or your pen.–Wllm Worth (By Gone Daze)

How can one not dream while writing? It is the pen which dreams. The blank page gives the right to dream.–Gaston Bachelard (The Poetics of Reverie)

The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement.–Billy Collins

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

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

You have moments of grief in life, and if you can put pen to paper and capture that, that’s something wonderful.. John Lydon

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at

National Upsy Daisy Day

June 8 is National Upsy Daisy Day. Created in 2003 by Stephanie West Allen, this quirky holiday is set aside to encourage people to face the day positively and to get up “gloriously, gratefully and gleefully” each morning. Honestly, if I am going to be glorious or gleeful (not really awfully likely) it would be late at night, as I am more a night owl, than an early morning person. Grateful, I can manage, and perhaps that’s the best way to approach this holiday.

We each have so many things to be thankful for – a roof over our heads, food to eat, family and friends – the list could go on and on, and this is a good day to sit down and enumerate them. I am especially thankful for those of you who read this blog and take the time to write a comment.

Upsy Daisy is an exclamation used to express encouragement to a child who has fallen or is being lifted. The idea is to treat the day as a gift, to smile at people, and so lift them up. Focusing on our blessings rather than our problems, can make that happen automatically. So whether you are a naturally bubbly person, or more sardonic, like me, today is a day to do something to brighten someone’s day. Upsy Daisy!

Quotes about gratitude to help put us in the right frame of mind.

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.–Oprah Winfrey

Each moment a blessing of abundance, each breath a prayer of thanksgiving.–Michael Rawls

Everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace.–G. K. Chesterton

For today and its blessings, I owe the world an attitude of gratitude.–Clarence E. Hodges

Gratitude is what opens the spiritual doors to all the blessings. Everything becomes clear, you see, you feel, you live.–Omraam M. Aivanhov

Gratitude takes three forms: a feeling in the heart, an expression in words, and a giving in return.–John Wanamaker

If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.–Harold Kushner

It is impossible to be negative while we are giving thanks.–Donald Curtis

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.–A. A. Milne

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.—Cicero

When you look at life through the eyes of gratitude, the world becomes a magical and amazing place.–Jennifer Gayle

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at

Ramadan Mubarak (Happy Ramadan)

Not knowing a lot about Ramadan, I looked up some information to better understand the Islamic holy days. This may be helpful for others too. If you are a Ramadan expert, feel free to skip to the quotes.

Today, June 6 marks the first full day of Ramadan for 2016. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Every day during this month, Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours in a complete fast. However, it about much more than refraining from food and drink. It is a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self-discipline and sacrifice. It commemorates the giving of the Quran to Mohamad, and is meant to be a time of rededicating oneself to Islam. There is also extensive reading from the Quran this month. Someone has called it a kind of spiritual detox. People eat before sunrise, and get together with others after sunset for a meal called iftar, and many see this as a time of community building. For those adults whose health will not allow fasting, they may give money to charity to offset the fasting, which is meant to be enough to feed a poor person each day.

This is a very spiritual time for Muslims, so if you have friends or coworkers celebrating the Ramadan fast, be especially gracious and understanding to them this month. Especially don’t offer them food!

For those of us who are not Muslim, if we are aware of this spiritual month for them, perhaps it will make us a little more aware of those suffering at this time: of the poor, the dispossessed, the ill, the homeless, and other unfortunates.

What President Obama said this year: As Muslim Americans celebrate the holy month, I am reminded that we are one American family. I stand firmly with Muslim American communities in rejection of the voices that seek to divide us or limit our religious freedoms or civil rights. I stand committed to safeguarding the civil rights of all Americans no matter their religion or appearance. I stand in celebration of our common humanity and dedication to peace and justice for all.


Quotes about fasting (note: several of these are by Tariq Ramadan, who is a Swiss academic, philosopher and writer. He is the professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford)

Fasting is, first and foremost, an exercise for identifying and managing adversity in all its forms. With faith, in full conscience, fasting calls women and men to an extra degree of self-awareness.–Tariq Ramadan

The philosophy of fasting calls upon us to know ourselves, to master ourselves, and to discipline ourselves the better to free ourselves. To fast is to identify our dependencies, and free ourselves from them.–Tariq Ramadan

We must master our egoism, and through this mastery, step outside ourselves and educate ourselves in giving. Fasting requires that we rediscover all that is alive around us, and reconcile ourselves with our environment. Tariq Ramadan

Instead of looking outside of ourselves and counting potential enemies, fasting summons us to turn our glance inward, and to take the measure of our greatest challenge: the self, the ego, in our own eyes and as others see us.–Tariq Ramadan

A fast is not a hunger strike. Fasting submits to God’s commands.–Edwin Louis Cole

Most cultures traditionally link food and spirituality directly with periodic restrictions and celebrations punctuating the year. Abstinence from particular foods or full-on fasting is part of many religious traditions and holidays.–Marcus Samuelsson

Periodic fasting can help clear up the mind and strengthen the body and the spirit.–Ezra Taft Benson

By fasting, the body learns to obey the soul; by praying the soul learns to command the body.–William Secker

The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things.–Ole Hallesby

The light of the world will illuminate within you when you fast and purify yourself. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Happy is he who has fasted in sincerity and truth! Happy he whose humbled heart has expanded in love!–Alexandre Vinet

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at


Right now, my head is full of gardening. I’ve had onions, peas, carrots, dill, and spinach in the ground for two or three weeks. This week, I rototilled one tomato bed and planted 14 plants there – a mixture of Roma for sauce, and beefsteak to eat. Today I plant cucumbers, and get beans started – yellow, green, and scarlet runner beans. Tomorrow I start work on the other tomato bed, where the yellow pear tomatoes, two kinds of cherry tomatoes, and the purple beefsteak tomatoes go. I raise all my plants from seed, so am very proud of them. Soon I will plant peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce, and finish up my “kitchen garden,” with mint, basil, chives, oregano, rosemary, and thyme, all of which are looking nice and healthy in my back room with the large south-facing window. Any plants I have leftover will go to the community garden at my church, where we raise vegetables for our food pantry and the gospel mission.

I didn’t always love gardening. When I was a kid, I was made to work in the family garden, so naturally I rebelled against it. I also had to help with canning, which I hated. It makes a difference to be an adult and be doing the work voluntarily!

Gardening is also a nice way to interact with my neighbors. They stop and talk as I work in the garden, and I get to share produce with them when it ripens. I have one neighbor in particular who loves the Black Cherry tomatoes, so I always plant them close to her, so she can come and pick them whenever she wants.


There are numberless quotes about gardening. Here are a few that I really like.

Gardening grows the spirit.–Barbara Mock

Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.–Author Unknown

In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy.–Robert Brault

Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.–Marcelene Cox

The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.–Joel Salatin (Folks, This Ain’t Normal)

The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte.–Vera Nazarian (The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration)

A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.–Liberty Hyde Bailey

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.–Marcus Tullius Cicero

The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.–Gertrude Jekyll

Garden as though you will live forever.–William Kent

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.–May Sarton

Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.–Rudyard Kipling (Complete Verse)

Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.–Alfred Austin

Gardens and chocolate both have mystical qualities.–Edward Flaherty

Everything is mended by the soil.–Andrew Crofts (Secrets of the Italian Gardener)

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at


Like many people, I tend to skim when I reach a less interesting part of a book. One of the benefits of audiobooks is that you hear all the words. I have worn out two paperback sets of The Lord of the Rings, yet when I listened to the unabridged audio recording, I “heard” much I never had before, particularly the beauty of Tolkien’s writing about nature. It can be like discovering a well-loved story all over again. You gain a new appreciation of language when you hear it rather than read it.

One of the interesting things about audiobooks is that a well-known story may be recorded by different people, which can make each narrative distinctive. For instance, The Lord of the Rings has been recorded by a BBC cast; Recorded Books has put out an unabridged edition read by Robert Ingles; and Tolkien himself has been recorded reading parts of the trilogy. The unique interpretations make certain parts dramatic, or touching. Ian Holmes’ (BBC) suffering and exhausted Frodo is very different from the stoic, quietly heroic Frodo of Robert Ingles.

One thing you quickly realize as you listen is that a narrator can make or break a story. I listened to a version of Journey to the Center of the Earth, with a narrator that totally removed both the dramatic tension and interest from the story. On the other hand, David Case does such an amazing reading of The Count of Monte Cristo, that after borrowing it twice from the library, I bought my own copy of a story I had never paid much attention to before. It’s a good reminder that an author is only part of a book. The rest belongs to the reader and/or listener.

Some authors are also excellent narrators. Hearing Neil Gaiman read any of his works is a delight. When the author reads, you then know what parts of a story he or she intended to be emphasized, or funny, or dramatic.

The last, and perhaps the best, reason for audiobooks is the delightful feeling of being read to. From wise men or women telling stories around ancient campfires to parents reading fairy tales to their children, human beings have always loved listening to stories.

So go to your library or join Audible or download free readings from the Web. Pick up a couple of unabridged audiobooks. Subscribe to podcasts. Listen, enjoy, and learn. If you have never done this before, I urge you to try it. It will add a whole new dimension to your enjoyment of books, whether fiction or nonfiction.

A few quotes about audiobooks.

I’ve never listened to an audiobook before, and I have to say it’s a totally different experience. When you read a book, the story definitely takes place in your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eyes–Robin Sloan (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore)

Audiobooks speak for themselves.–Paul Acampora (I Kill the Mockingbird)

Narrators can make or break your audiobook experience. Make sure your read first. always remember who’s voice you can stand and try to stick to these people otherwise your will end up hating the book.–Unknown

I love audio books, and when I paint I’m always listening to a book. I find that my imagination really takes flight in the painting process when I’m listening to audio books.–Thomas Kinkade

Sit back. Relax. Kick off your shoes, put up your feet, and get your ear buds in. It’s audiobook time!–David Radtke

The companionship and delight of a voice telling stories is incomparable.–Stephen Fry

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at