Gratitude

I am seriously under the weather, feeling too awful to write a blog. So instead, in honor of Thanksgiving, here are a lot of gratitude quotes.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.–John F. Kennedy

The day I acquired the habit of consciously pronouncing the words “thank you,” I felt I had gained possession of a magic wand capable of transforming everything.–Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.–Brian Tracy

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

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.–William Arthur Ward

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

For what I have received may the Lord make me truly thankful. And more truly for what I have not received.–Storm Jameson (Journey from the North, v.2)

Give thanks for all things. All things great and small, good, bad, for all things are for a purpose.–Ann Herbstreith

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.–Cicero

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul and the heart of man knoweth none more fragrant.–Hosea Ballou

Gratitude is the memory of the heart.–Massieu

Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.–Jacques Maritain (Reflectinons on America)

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

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.–Melody Beattie

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.–Eric Hoffer

He who receives a benefit with gratitude repays the first installment of his debt.–Seneca

Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel.–Anonymous

I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.–Brene Brown

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.–G. K. Chesterton

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

Ingratitude is the soul’s enemy… Ingratitude is a burning wind that dries up the source of love, the dew of mercy, the streams of grace.—-Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

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

Keep a grateful journal. Every night, list five things that you are grateful for. What it will begin to do is change our perspective of your day and your life.–Oprah Winfrey

None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.–Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

Of all the “attitudes” we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing.–Zig Ziglar

One can never pay in gratitude; one can pay “in kind” somewhere else in life.–Anne Morrow Lindbergh

One of life’s gifts is that each of us, no matter how tired and downtrodden, finds reasons for thankfulness.–J. Robert Maskin

Part of growing up spiritually is learning to be grateful for all things, even our difficulties, disappointments, failures and humiliations.–Mike Aquilina (Love in the Little Things: Tales of Family Life)

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National Absurdity Day

November 20 is a day to celebrate the absurd in life. There are two different kinds of absurdity. On the one hand, if something is absurd, it is funny. But if we look at things like the Theatre of the Absurd, it is portraying the meaninglessness of life.

I want to look at the second definition first. The myth that best symbolizes this form of absurdity is that of Sisyphus who is condemned in Hades to forever push a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down again. The premise is that there is no meaning to human life, that it is simply a series of actions ultimately leading nowhere. This period of drama was particularly popular in the years after World War II, when the horrors of that time were fresh. Samuel Beckett is one such playwright. In his play Waiting for Godot, plot is eliminated, and a timeless, circular quality emerges as two lost creatures, usually played as tramps, spend their days waiting — but without any certainty of whom they are waiting for or of whether he, or it, will ever come.

It is said that, “Language in an Absurdist play is often dislocated, full of cliches, puns, repetitions, and non sequiturs.” To me this sounds like Twitter, as well as certain politicians who shall remain nameless.

The other way to look at absurdity is much more fun. When something is just plain silly, we often call it absurd, or crazy or zany. When I think of this definition, Monty Python’s Flying Circus immediately springs to mind. So many of their sketches were the height of absurdity, such as the dead parrot sketch which you can find on YouTube, and which still makes me laugh after all these years.

So be sure to let out your silliness today.

Just for fun quotes

All you really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.–Charles Schulz

As with most fine things, chocolate has its season. There is a simple memory aid that you can use to determine whether it is the correct time to order chocolate dishes: any month whose name contains the letter a, e, or u is the proper time for chocolate.–Sandra Boynton

The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application form.–Evan Esar

Do not compute the totality of your poultry population until all the manifestations of incubation have been entirely completed.–William Jennings Bryan

Don’t you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There’s one marked ‘brightness’, but it doesn’t work.—Gallagher

Every man has one thing he can do better than anyone else–and usually it’s reading his own handwriting.–G. Norman Collie

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.–Groucho Marx

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.–Robert McCloskey

I make it a policy to try never to make a complete idiot of myself twice in the same way. After all, there’s always all kinds of new ways to make a complete idiot of myself. Why repeat the old ones?–Margot Dalton

I went to a restaurant that serves “breakfast any time.” So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.–Steven Wright

I’d go to the end of the world for my husband. Of course, if he’d just stop and ask directions, I wouldn’t have to.–Martha Bolton

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.–Mary Ellen Kelly

The only winner in the War of 1812 was Tchaikovsky.–Solomon Short

The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.–G. K. Chesterton

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Margaret Atwood

Margaret Eleanor Atwood was born November 18, 1939. She is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, and environmental activist. Most know her from her novels, however. The Handmaid’s Tale has recently boon in the news as Hulu recently ordered a television series based on the book, which premiered in late 2016. Many see the novel as politically relevant today, and it is certainly her best-known work. The story takes place in the near future when society has collapsed, and most women are infertile. Handmaids are fertile women assigned to households of the ruling elite theocracy in order to bear children for them. It is not an easy read.

Probably her next best-known work is the MaddAddam Trilogy, a series of three novels, Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and Maddaddam that deal with life after an ecological catastrophe.

Margaret Atwood mainly writes what she calls speculative fiction. She distinguishes it from science fiction, in that her novels concern themselves with things that could happen if current trends in our world would take a certain turn, or go to their logical conclusion.

One of her earlier novels, Alias Grace, was made into a series in Canada and is currently showing on Netflix. It is historical fiction, based on a true story, about a young maid accused of murder, who cannot remember what happened. A young doctor tries to help her remember to prove her innocence.

Atwood’s writing, in all her chosen genres, has always been clearly connected to global and personal politics; it particularly focuses on themes of environmental degradation, women’s roles in society, and the power dynamics of social organization.

Atwood has won an impressive array of awards for her writing, including the Nebula Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Booker Prize.

Quotes by Margaret Atwood

Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist.

Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.

You know the myth: Everybody had to fit into Procrustes’ bed and if they didn’t, he either stretched them or cut off their feet. I’m not interested in cutting the feet off my characters or stretching them to make them fit my certain point of view.

The artist doesn’t necessarily communicate. The artist evokes … [It] actually doesn’t matter what I feel. What matters is how the art makes you feel.

When I was young, I believed that “nonfiction” meant “true.” But you read a history written in, say, 1920 and a history of the same events written in 1995 and they’re very different. There may not be one Truth — there may be several truths — but saying that is not to say that reality doesn’t exist.

Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, “It can’t happen here.” Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.

“Why do men feel threatened by women?” I asked a male friend of mine. … “They’re afraid women will laugh at them,” he said. “Undercut their world view.” … Then I asked some women students in a poetry seminar I was giving, “Why do women feel threatened by men?” “They’re afraid of being killed,” they said.

All writers feel struck by the limitations of language. All serious writers.

Any novel is hopeful in that it presupposes a reader. It is, actually, a hopeful act just to write anything, really, because you’re assuming that someone will be around to [read] it.

War is what happens when language fails.

Happiness is a garden walled with glass: there’s no way in or out. In Paradise there are no stories, because there are no journeys. It’s loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward, along its twisted road.

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International Day for Tolerance

November 16 has been set aside by the United Nations as a day to promote tolerance. Their website explains it like this: “On the day of its fiftieth anniversary, 16 November 1995, UNESCO’s Member States adopted a Declaration of Principles on Tolerance. Among other things, the Declaration affirms that tolerance is neither indulgence nor indifference. It is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance recognizes the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. People are naturally diverse; only tolerance can ensure the survival of mixed communities in every region of the globe.”

In an age that seems to be getting less tolerant all the time, it is important to recognize intolerance and to celebrate diversity. The United Nations suggests five ways to counter intolerance.

  1. Passing laws to enforce human rights, such as punishing hate crimes, and making sure all have equal access to such things as courts and other bodies which help prevent discrimination.
  2. Fighting intolerance though education. Children need to be taught about diversity, and to be open and curious, rather than fearful of those different than themselves. Education best happens in not only school, but also the home and the workplace.
  3. Fighting intolerance requires access to information. By this, they mean a free press, which presents accurate information about different groups of people.
  4. Individual awareness. Pay attention to what goes on around you at work and in other places, particularly involving stereotyping particular groups. People need to monitor their own reactions to jokes and casual remarks to keep intolerance from gaining hold.
  5. Local solutions. Tolerance begins at the local level with getting involved with organizations in the community fighting intolerance.

May we all be more aware of our prejudices and work to remove them!

Quotes about tolerance

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.–Mohandas Gandhi

Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand; with a grip that kills it.–Rabindranath Tagore

The color of the skin makes no difference. What is good and just for one is good and just for the other, and the Great Spirit made all men brothers.–White Shield

The greatest and noblest pleasure which we have in this world is to discover new truths, and the next is to shake off old prejudices.–Frederick II, the Great

Greetings, I am pleased to see that we are different. May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.–Vulcan greeting

How do we create a harmonious society out of so many kinds of people? The key is tolerance–the one value that is indispensable in creating community.–Barbara Jordan

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.–Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.–Dalai Lama

It’s a universal law – intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.–Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Man is always inclined to be intolerant towards the thing, or person, he hasn’t taken the time adequately to understand…–Robert R. Brown

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.-Nelson Mandela

Nothing dies so hard, or rallies so often as intolerance.–Henry Ward Beecher

Tolerance is the only real test of civilization.–Arthur Helps

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Pickle Day

On November 14, we celebrate the pickle. I couldn’t let this day go unremarked, as I am a huge dill pickle fan. However, not all pickles are dill. There are also Gherkin, Lime, Bread-and-Butter, Branston, Cornishon, Hungarian, Polish, Danish or Swedish. When I was younger, my mother made bread and butter pickles, but they are really too sweet for me.

The term pickle comes from the Dutch word pekel, meaning brine. Pickles have been around a long time. In 2030 BCE, cucumbers were imported from India to the Tigris Valley. There, they were first preserved and eaten as pickles. Pickles have often been thought to have special properties. According to legend, Cleopatra attributed her beauty to her regular eating of pickles. Julius Caesar and Napoleon fed them to their troops in the belief that they provided strength. And, of course, they are legendary as a food often craved by pregnant women, along with ice cream. But by far the most interesting tidbit I found about pickles is that Amerigo Vespucci, who gave his name to America was called a “pickle-dealer,” because he provided provisions to ship’s crews, including pickles.

Pickle Day was first celebrated in 1949. You can read the article about this first celebration on the Time/Life website, including a picture of Mr. Pickle happily floating on a rubber raft in a huge vat of pickles – according to the caption, 204,681 of them!

Pickles are easy to make. You don’t need special equipment or a canner. All you need is a container big enough to keep them covered, and a few ingredients, like vinegar, spices, salt, and garlic. You can find the recipe here. By using this cold pack technique, you get crunchy pickles, not the soggy ones you get if you cook them. But canned or purchased, enjoy a pickle today!

Quotes about pickles

I love dill pickles! They’re on my rider for my concerts so I eat one every day.–Jordin Sparks

What I love is a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. I’ll just have peanut butter and bananas, then peanut butter and pickles. Peanut butter and chocolate I don’t recommend.–Dianne Wiest

I don’t know why I love cherries and I love pickles. I eat about two or three Claussen pickles a day. Those are just things I snack on.–Monica Denise Brown

Life – a spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay.–Ambrose Bierce

On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.–Thomas Jefferson

So in our pride we ordered for breakfast an omelet, toast and coffee and what has just arrived is a tomato salad with onions, a dish of pickles, a big slice of watermelon and two bottles of cream soda.–John Steinbeck

He looks as though he’s been weaned on a pickle.–Alice Roosevelt Longworth

I sleep so much better at night, knowing that America is protected from thin pickles and fast ketchup.–Orrin Hatch

I think pickles are cucumbers that sold out. They sold their soul to the devil, and the devil is dill.–Mitch Hedberg

A man who is not touched by the earthy lyricism of hot pastrami, the pungent fantasy of corned beef, pickles, frankfurters, the great lusty impertinence of good mustard is a man of stone and without heart.–Herb Gardner

Turns out, theres not a lot of information about pickles on the Internet.–Brian Posehn (This is not true, by the way!)

As an adolescent, I went to charm school, where I learned to pour tea and relate to boys, which, as I recall, meant giving them the pickle jar to unscrew, whether it was too hard for me or not.–Sue Monk Kidd

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Chicken Soup for the Soul Day

November 12 is the day we celebrate the books by the positive story company, Chicken Soup for the Soul. Their books have been wildly popular, based on stories that are, supposed to be true tales from real people. They have sold over a hundred million copies of the feel-good series, as a part of 250 separate titles. First put together by motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor, the first book was popular beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, selling eleven million copies.

They say, “this day was created to celebrate who you are, where you have been, where you are going and who you will be thankful for when you get there.” It’s meant to be a celebration of ordinary people and the inspiring things they do each day.

The name was chosen because chicken soup is good for what ails you physically, and these stories are good for the soul. By the way, it’s not just a myth that chicken soup is good for colds and flu. While not a cure, the steam helps break of mucus. The salt and the warmth are good for a sore throat, and it’s not adding antibiotics to the system. According to a study, chicken soup also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can relieve congestion too, although this is still uncertain.

You can find recipes or chicken soup in many places. Taste of Home recommends “Cold Day Chicken Noodle Soup.” It looks very healthy, being chock full of vegetables as well as the chicken and noodles. You might want to try it just because!

So whether you need soothing for a cold, or are just in search of inspiration, chicken soup may be just what you need. If you are looking for the original volume, you can find it on Amazon here.

Quotes about soup, health, and illness

In my grandmother’s house there was always chicken soup

And talk of the old country–mud and boards.–Luis Simpson

As for real chicken soup, I have it once or twice a week.–Jack Canfield

To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.–Laurie Colwin

There is nothing like a plate or a bowl of hot soup, it’s wisp of aromatic steam making the nostrils quiver with anticipation, to dispel the depressing effects of a grueling day at the office or the shop, rain or snow in the streets, or bad news in the papers.–Louis P. De Gouy

A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.–Ogden Nash

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.–Irish proverb

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.–Hubert Humphrey

Health and good humor are to the human body like sunshine to vegetation.–Jean-Baptiste Massillon

I reckon being ill is one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better.–Samuel Butler

Medicines may be necessary. Flowers lift the heart. But your smile is the best restorative of all.–Pam Brown

The sad truth is that there is no point to getting sick when you’re a grown-up. You know why? It’s because being sick is about you and your mother… Without that solicitous hand on your forehead, there is no one to confirm that you are really sick.–Adair Lara

There is nothing that can have a more powerful effect on your mental health than the spirit of thankfulness.–George Vandeman

Time is the best doctor.–Yiddish Proverb

You may not appreciate the presence of good health, but you will definitely regret the absence of good health, because health is happiness.–Amit Kalantri

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Neil Gaiman

Neil Richard Gaiman, an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre, and films, was born on November 10, 1960. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might recognize his name. I have mentioned him in various ways in multiple entries.

Neil Gaiman writes mostly in the fantasy field, but his style is wide ranging, from the sweetest fantasy to horror, and from preschool to adult. He began his fiction career with the graphic novel series, The Sandman. It tells the tale of the ageless, anthropomorphic personification of Dream. It is full of the mythology of many races, as well as literary allusions.

Along with Terry Pratchett, he wrote Good Omens, which is a story about an angel and a demon and the ending of the world, which doesn’t sound amusing but manages to be.

Myself and others were first introduced to his work from the miniseries Neverwhere about a world underneath London, peopled by all sorts of interesting beings.

But my favorites of his works are The Graveyeard Book for middle readers about a boy brought up by ghosts in a cemetery. Also, Anansi Boys about an ordinary young man who finds out he is the son of a god. American Gods asks the question “What happened to the gods that came to the new world with the settlers?” He also wrote arguably the best Doctor Who story of the new era “The Doctor’s Wife.”

There are so many more. He has won the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. His books and stories have also been honoured with 4 Hugos, 2 Nebulas, 1 World Fantasy Award, 4 Bram Stoker Awards, 6 Locus Awards, 2 British SF Awards, 1 British Fantasy Award, 3 Geffens, 1 International Horror Guild Award and 2 Mythopoeic Awards.

Do check him out. He is worth your time.

Quotes by Neil Gaiman

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.

You’re alive. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything.

THE MAGIC AND THE DANGER OF FICTION IS THIS: it allows us to see through other eyes. It takes us to places we have never been, allows us to care about, worry about, laugh with, and cry for people who do not, outside of the story, exist. There are people who think that things that happen in fiction do not really happen. These people are wrong.

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.

Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.

The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.

Read. Read anything. Read the things they say are good for you, and the things they claim are junk. You’ll find what you need to find. Just read.

A world in which there are monsters, and ghosts, and things that want to steal your heart is a world in which there are angels, and dreams and a world in which there is hope.

Stories you read when you’re the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you’ll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.

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