Friday, December 28, 2012

Abraham Lincoln

Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Maria Sanford

"...vehement and gusty, leonine, hale, and lusty." 

Maria Sanford was an educator born in 1836. She became one of the first female college professors in the country when she accepted a professorship of history at Swarthmore in 1871, though she migrated to the University of Minnesota in 1880. Sanford was the first woman to deliver a commencement speech at a university and was a frequent public speaker at a time when it was considered inappropriate for women to speak in public. She was known for her ability to project her voice to the back of any room. On her eightieth birthday, the University of Minnesota held an event to celebrate her long career, and someone recited a speech that described her with the phrase above. What a woman! 

Charles Darwin

It creates a feeling of wonder that so much beauty should be apparently created for such little purpose.

--From his diary account of his trip to South America

Marie Ebner von Eschenbach

We are so vain that we even care for the opinion of those we don't care for. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gustave Flaubert

Language is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Brooks Atkinson

The humorous man recognizes that absolute purity, absolute justice, absolute logic and perfection are beyond human achievement and that men have been able to live happily for thousands of years in a state of genial frailty.

Monday, November 12, 2012


A joy shared is a joy doubled.


Love is blind. Friendship is clairvoyant.

Robert Maurer

When the midbrain is engaged by the repetitive movement involved in many crafts, the temporal lobe is unable to focus on worry or stress. The cortex - which controls conscious thought - becomes quiet and peaceful.

From This is Your Brain on Crafts, Martha Stewart Living, Nov 2012

Adelle Davis

We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.

-From Let's Get Well

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sister Joan Chichester

I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking. If all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed and why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.

from Bill Moyers' show, Nov 2004

Friday, November 9, 2012

Carl Sagan

What an astonishing thing a book is. It is a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts, on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person. [...] Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. Books are proof that humans are capable of working magic.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Shinichi Suzuki

To reason whether one has talent or not is to no avail. Abandon these thoughts, and use your own power to create talent.

from Nurtured by Love: A New Approach to Education. 1969, p 47.

Friday, October 26, 2012

John Daniel

A Prayer among Friends

Among other wonders of our lives, we are alive
with one another, we walk here
in the light of this unlikely world
that isn't ours for long.
May we spend generously
the time we are given.
May we enact our responsibilities
as thoroughly as we enjoy
our pleasures. May we see with clarity,
may we seek a vision
that serves all beings, may we honor
the mystery surpassing our sight,
and may we hold in our hands
the gift of good work
and bear it forth whole, as we
were borne forth by a power we praise
to this one Earth, this homeland of all we love. 

"A Prayer among Friends" by John Daniel, from Of Earth.
© Lost Horse Press, 2012.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gretchen Reynolds

Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.

As reported by Gretchen Reynolds in "Get Up, Get Out, Don't Sit", NY Times, 10/17/2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Miss Piggy

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lily Tomlin

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ed Sullivan

If you do a good job for others, you heal yourself at the same time, because a dose of joy is a spiritual cure. It transcends all barriers.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


When you put your foot on a man's neck and hold him down for three hundred years, and then you let him up, what's he going to do? He's going to knock your block off.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Jens Voigt Facts

Once the CSC team bus broke down and Jens Voigt had to push it. French police pulled them over and detained the team for more than hour before letting Jens go with just a speeding ticket.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Heather McHugh

I have always lived on waterfronts. If you live on the edge of an enormous mountain or an enormous body of water, it's harder to think of yourself as being so important. That seems useful to me, spiritually.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Roger Housden

Day by day, tiny specks of us float away. No matter which exercise or diet regime we follow, no matter which self-help guru or meditation practice we follow, nothing will dispel the reality that we are not built to last. Death is our supreme limitation, the final proof that perfection was never meant to be part of human experience.

A hundred years from now, there will be all new people. Sooner rather than later, we shall not be here: no eyes, no nose, no ears, no tongue, no mind. No you or me. Gone, and who knows where, if anywhere.

Yet knowing the extent of our limitation, feeling our soon-not-to-be-hereness in our bones, is the best condition we can have for waking up to the miracle that we are here now. That is the brilliance of the human design plan; the built-in "defect" is the very thing that can spur us to drink down the full draught as it comes to us. Better to taste this gritty, imperfect life we have than to defer it to some more perfect future that will never come.

From Perfectly Imperfect article.


It's only two layers, but I packed it with chicken.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mary Harris "Mother" Jones

Whatever the fight, don't be ladylike.

I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I said if he had stolen a railroad, he would be a United States Senator.

Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tina Fey

So my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism or really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: "Is this person in between me and what I want to do?" If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you're in charge, don't hire the people who were jerky to you.

--from Bossypants (2011)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Stephen Vincent Benét

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kyle Crichton

Life's a pretty precious and wonderful thing. You can't sit down and let it lap around have to plunge into it. And you can't save it, you can't store it up, you can't horde it in a vault. You've got to taste it. You've got to use it. The more you use, the more you have...that's the miracle of it! 

--from The Happiest Millionaire (1956) 

Monday, July 9, 2012

David McCullough

There's no such thing, no such thing. We're all the products of the teachers, the parents, the friends, the rivals that have shaped us along the way.

--on explaining his disbelief in the idea of the self-made man

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

As revealed in a fortune cookie

The difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter.


Much writing remains;
Deadlines approach with grim speed.
Think before knocking.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

We are as happy as people can be, without making themselves ridiculous, and might be even happier; but, as a matter of taste, we choose to stop short at this point.

--in a letter to his sister about his wife

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mark Andrews

There are no villains in our world, really. Most of our lives are filled with, "I've caused the problem myself. Why did I cause the problem?" It's our own agendas. It's our own vanity. It's our pride. It's our envy, all those things.

The one thing I love about telling stories is, we spend our whole lives going in and out of being better or worse, in our own character. But in a movie, the character transforms into the best they're going to be. So you take a whole life, what we live, that we have to constantly work at, and we shove it down into 80 minutes so we can see what this person goes through. We can see the human condition at high speed. That creates more intensity and more stakes in the story, but what we get out of that is like [claps], "That person overcame everything, and boy, that's inspirational. That's what I'm going to do." It empowers us.

--director of Pixar's Brave in an interview. The Onion's A.V. Club, June 21, 2012, p. 26.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stanley Plumly

This was the fall, October, when Ohio,
like almost every other part of the country,
is beginning to be mortally beautiful,
the great old hardwoods letting go
their various scarlet, yellow,
and leopard-spotted leaves one by one. 

--from "Glenn Gould" (2012)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Richard Strauss

I may not be a first-rate composer, but I am a first-class second-rate composer.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Linda Ellerbee

He was generous with his affection, given to great, awkward, engulfing hugs, and I can remember so clearly the smell of his hugs, all starched shirt, tobacco, Old Spice and Cutty Sark. Sometimes I think I've never been properly hugged since.

From Move On

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tom Waits

Go out there and take the world by the tail, pull it down, wrap it around and put it in your pocket.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bill Clinton

[T]oo many of us spend too much time worrying about advancement or personal gain at the expense of effort. We might fail, but we need to get caught trying.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Charles M. Blow

There is no wrong time to do the right thing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Harry S. Truman

You don't set a fox to watching chickens just because he has a lot of
experience in the hen house.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

David Hume

Reading and sauntering and lounging and dozing, which I call thinking,
is my supreme happiness.

He is happy whose circumstances suit his temper but he is more
excellent who can suit his temper to any circumstances.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

via Maestro Flatt

Regarding Beethoven's Pastorale Symphony: "The 'storm' isn't about the weather."

--as quoted by Maestro Flatt at 3/30/12 Denver philharmonic concert

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Annie Murphy Paul

It [reading fiction] is an exercise that hones our real-life social skills.... [I]ndividuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective. This relationship persisted even after the researchers accounted for the possibility that more empathetic individuals might prefer reading novels. A 2010 study...found a similar result in preschool-age children: the more stories they had read to them, the keener their theory of mind.

Fiction, Dr. Oatley notes, “is a particularly useful simulation because negotiating the social world effectively is extremely tricky, requiring us to weigh up myriad interacting instances of cause and effect. Just as computer simulations can help us get to grips with complex problems such as flying a plane or forecasting the weather, so novels, stories and dramas can help us understand the complexities of social life.”

These findings will affirm the experience of readers who have felt illuminated and instructed by a novel, who have found themselves comparing a plucky young woman to Elizabeth Bennet or a tiresome pedant to Edward Casaubon. Reading great literature, it has long been averred, enlarges and improves us as human beings. Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined.

--"Your Brain on Fiction," New York Times, March 17, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kahlil Gibran

Hate is a dead thing. Who of you would be a tomb?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ring Lardner

He looked at me as if I were a side dish he hadn't ordered.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bill Watterson

A day can really slip by when you're deliberately avoiding what you're supposed to do.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Wallace Stegner

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed ... We need wilderness preserved — as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds — because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed ... We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.

Eknath Easwaran

Minimizing self-will is minimizing distractions.

(from 4/5/1980 talk)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Edward Hoagland

Country people do not behave as if they think life is short; they live
on the principle that it is long, and savor variations of the kind
best appreciated if most days are the same.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sir J. Stephen

Every man has in himself a continent of undiscovered ability. Happy is he who acts as the Columbus to his own soul.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thomas A Kempis and Eknath Easwaran

Wherever you go, you will always bear yourself about with you, and so you will always find yourself.
 - Thomas A. Kempis

There is only one way to get a real vacation: get as far away from the ego as possible. Worrying about your problems all the time makes for misery with a capital M. For getting away from misery, I recommend this "economy plan": do not feed your ego and your problems, with your attention. They will soon lose weight.
 - Eknath Easwaran

Thursday, January 12, 2012

George Bernard Shaw and Eknath Easwaran

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.
  – George Bernard Shaw

All of us have tasted the freedom and happiness that self-forgetfulness brings. In watching a good game of tennis or becoming engrossed in a novel, the satisfaction comes not so much from what we are watching or reading as from the act of absorption itself. For that brief span, our burden of personal thoughts is forgotten. Then we find relief, for what lies beneath that burden is a still, clear state of awareness.

The scientist or the artist absorbed in creative work is happy because she has forgotten herself in what she is doing. But nowhere will you find personalities so joyous, so unabashedly lighthearted, as those who have lost themselves in love for all. That is the joy we glimpse in Saint Francis or Mahatma Gandhi. To look at the lives of men and women like these is to see what joy means.
  – Eknath Easwaran

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Philip Levine

It is the imagination that gives us poetry. When you sit down to write a poem, you really don't know where you're going. If you know where you're going, the poem stinks, you probably already wrote it, and you're imitating yourself.

You have to follow where the poem leads. And it will surprise you. It will say things you didn't expect to say. And you look at the poem and you realize, "That is truly what I felt. That is truly what I saw."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mark Strand

Now that the vegetarian nightmare is over and we are back to
our diet of meat and deep in the sway of our dark and beauty-
ful habits and able to speak with calm of having survived, let
the breeze of the future touch and retouch our large and hun-
gering bodies. Let us march to market to embrace the butcher
and put the year of the carrot, the month of the onion behind
us, let us worship the roast or the stew that takes its place once
again at the scared center of the dining room table.
"A Short Panegyric" by Mark Strand, from Almost Invisible

Friday, January 6, 2012

E. L. Doctorow

Here's how it goes: I'm up at the stroke of 10 or 10:30. I have breakfast and read the papers, and then it's lunchtime. Then maybe a little nap after lunch and out to the gym, and before I know it, it's time to have a drink.
--the author on his writing routine

Monday, January 2, 2012

Marcus Jackson

and praise the kettle whistle,
imitating an important train,
delivering us

these steam-brimmed sips of tea.

--from "Winter Thanks" by Marcus Jackson in Neighborhood Register