P is for Pallindromes!

The English language amuses me.  Playing with words has always been a hobby.  I guess it’s no mystery that I turned out to be a writer, eh?  One thing that has always fascinated me is the Palindrome.

Palindromes are words and phrases that are spelled exactly the same going backwards and forwards.  Here are some of the more clever and famous in the English language:

Able was I ere I saw Elba.  (supposedly some of the last public words spoken by Napoleon Bonaparte–a myth, surely!)

A man, a plan, a canal: Panama.  (attributed as a sort of slogan for Theodore Roosevelt and the great project of his presidency).

Some other more generic but also clever ones:

Never odd or even.

Cigar? Toss it in a can.  It is so tragic!

Won’t lovers revolt now?

Can you write your own palindrome?  I know I can’t!

More palindromes with amusing illustrations here.

If you are more of a numbers person than a word person, there are palindrome dates, as well.  Dates that can be written the same backwards and forewards.  Here’s a list of the palindrome dates for the next decade.  Apparently in 2018, my birthday will be a palindrome date!

O is for Odd Bits

This story, about a Paris apartment in Place Pigalle locked and untouched for over 70 years, a “time capsule” to life in the pre-World War II city.

Apartment Time Capsule

The team that had the honor of opening what must have been a very stiff old lock for the first time in 70 years, likened the experience to ‘stumbling into the castle of sleeping beauty’. The smell of dust, the cobwebs, the silence, was overwhelming; a once in a lifetime experience.

And then there’s this, from Youtube… Abandoned Places of the World


N is for National Parks Service

As a self-proclaimed nature addict, I take no shame in my love for the pretty places on the earth.  I have extolled the virtues of the National Parks Service in previous posts (here, here and here, for example).  The national parks figure prominently in my “Happy Places” posts and are the last bastion of primal America as it once existed for millenia.  They are capsules of another time, ambassadors (both human, animal and vegetable alike) to the environment and, in general, a prescient gift to us from important forbears such as Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir.

If you haven’t been to a National Park recently, find one that is nearest to you.  Many countries have National Parks now–which is fantastic, in my opinion!  There should be more.  On top of that, there are UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well.


If you enjoy visiting the U.S. National Parks, be sure to pick up a National Parks Passport and fill it with stamps and pictures from the places you visit.  I promise you that you will come back from your “world tour” a changed person.


If you have children between the ages of 3 and 15, there is also the amazing Junior Ranger Program at nearly every National Park, World Heritage site and (in some states) at State Parks as well.

Last summer, we hit four nationals parks on our family vacation: Glacier (Montana), Yellowstone (Montana/Wyoming), Grand Teton (Wyoming), and Golden Spike National Monument (Utah).

This spring, we visited Joshua Tree and will visit three more parks this coming summer: Sequoia, Kings Canyon and, one of our favorites, Yosemite (all in California).

We are truly lucky to live in such a beautiful world!

Pick up the Chimani apps for your mobile devices.  They feature some stunning photography, a trip planner and many facts and bits of history about all the parks.

ETA: Also, don’t forget the “National Parks: America’s Best Idea PBS documentary.  You can see clips here.

L is for Literal Music Videos

Literal Interpretations of Music Videos from the Golden Age of MTV

This Youtube collection is bound to provide lots of entertainment, especially the ones from the 80s.

I couldn’t stop giggling.  Enjoy.


I is for Inspiration: People Who Inspire


I’m going to start a new feature on my blog.  I’m not sure how regular it will be but I want it to act as a counter point to my Happy Places blog posts about settings that inspire me.  I’d like to discuss people, past and present, specific and general, who have inspired me to live a creative life.

And the first person I’m going to feature is a man whom I’ve never met, yet whom I’m directly descended from, my grandfather, Garreth J. Rynhart.


Garreth was born in Holland and emigrated to the U.S. in 1914.  He received his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in the early 1920s.  While at university, he decided he was going to develop a way to live by his brush.  With this goal in mind, he trained himself to paint very quickly.

He traveled all over Western Canada (his country of adoption) and the Western U.S.  He hiked over different landscapes with his trusty binoculars and made sketches in his book.  During the Great Depression, Garreth was actually well off because of his ability to “mass produce” paintings cheaply.  Painting on nothing but thick cardboard for canvasses and making his own frames, he sold 2 paintings for $5.  Many times, during this time, he couldn’t keep up with is orders, even spending just 5-10 minutes painting works like the one you see below (12 x 24 “)il_fullxfull.416861957_occa

Garreth produced so many pictures during his lifetime that they can still be found in older homes, established businesses, antique stores and online venues such as ebay (where I purchased one of them) and Etsy (where I purchased another!)2012-05-28_201322_rynhart1These photographs only represent one of his signature styles, the monochromatic “sepia” style.  He also had a plein-air style and painted bigger pictures on canvas which, naturally were more expensive to produce and came at a higher price tag.

Garreth was well known for his speed painting and attracted a lot of attention by painting in store windows and at amusement parks, such as the early Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland, where people were so excited to get their hands on his work, they carried the paintings home still wet.


Tragically, Garreth suffered from diabetes, which robbed him of his eyesight, therefore curtailing his artistic career.  But by then, he had already taught his beloved wife to paint.  She is another very inspiring story that I will share at another time.il_fullxfull.419035044_11vbMy grandfather’s story has inspired me on my creative journey.  He’s taught me never to give up on my dreams, to find a way to persevere and make it work. Though I never met him, I will always be grateful for the legacy he left me.

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