Signs of Life 20/08/13

All quotes are from Climbing the Mango Trees, by Madhur Jaffrey, born Aug. 13, 1933.

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22) It just so happened that some American tap-dancers were staying with us at the same time. … [A] system of open hospitality was the norm. Welcome the tap-dancers.

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22) There were actually two types of family history. There was the documented version that sat properly in my grandfather’s office. But there was also the … fables, family customs, and hearsay passed along by my grandmother Bari Bauwa and the other women of the house. A combination of perspectives is best.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) The summer seemed endless. … Mangoes that could be eaten out of hand came and went, as did cherries from Kashmir and litchees from Dehradun. … After lunch we all tried sleeping through the long hot afternoons. Head for the shade trees.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) I would then rush to observe the daily churning of butter. … Much better than watching paint dry.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) My older sisters had sweet voices and could carry a tune and so had been cast in every convent musical, whereas I, after a stint at the age of five as the Brown Mouse in The Pied Piper of Hamelin, had given up on the theater. If it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) All I know is that nothing tasted more heavenly than that simple combination: grainy whole-wheat roti, raw onion, and green chili. Synergy works in your favor.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) It was an uncommon pickle. We knew of no other community that pickled dumplings. But we did, and delicious they were, too. You will enjoy an uncommon pickle.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20) Mrs. McKelvie was my history teacher. She didn’t just teach me Indian history and British history, which were part of the set curriculum; I also learned from her that any subject could be fascinating if I delved into it deeply enough. She showed me how history, for example, could be researched from a hundred angles…. Any angle you want.

Aries (March 21 – April 19) My mother … had already taught me knitting at the age of five. By now I was knitting the most complicated designs…. Sewing was another matter. The fact that you can knit doesn’t mean you can sew.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) Until then, I had never been to an exhibition of paintings and did not apply the lessons I might have learned from my art books to myself. New insights await.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20) Lower mathematics, on the other hand, was a startling composite. It consisted of arithmetic, which I could just about manage, and domestic science, a catchall subject that must have drawn its inspiration directly from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Math may come in handy.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22) There was one other way at school of sharing … that was at lunch, which we ate together, as far away from the stone school building as possible. We all brought our lunches from home. If you’re going to bring a whoopie pie, bring enough to share.

Signs of Life 20/08/06

All quotes are from Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning, by Leslie Odom Jr., born Aug. 6, 1981.

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22) There is a freeing power of an honest no. It’s the yang to yes’s yin. … Do not let your fear, or anyone else’s, rob you of the power of your yes and your no. Own them both and use either as you see fit.Yes? No!

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22) Don’t sell yourself short. You will meet people along the way who will be lining up to place limits on you. You don’t need to beat them to the punch. Those people have nothing better to do, but you do.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) You either fine-tune and keep making it better until they rip the pencil from your hand, or, once you intuit that you’ve finished and that you’ve conveyed what you intended to convey in your work, you put your own pencil down, step back … and triple-check. And then go get a sandwich.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) Hamilton the Broadway musical was a hard habit to kick. Binge responsibly.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) Gabe, my coach, is part Jedi, part yogi. My favorite repeated refrain from Gabe comes whenever I’m in bad form or when some fundamental he’s repeatedly shown me isn’t clicking once again. Gabe reminds me, ‘Les, relax your shoulders.’ Nine times out of ten, it is all I need to hear to get me back on track. Do it.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) When you take steps to better yourself it is never in vain. A step is a step.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) I love questions that begin with how. They activate the listener. Ask how.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20) I didn’t want to be in show business. I wanted to be in Rent. I was sixteen years old and I had never been to see a Broadway show, but I wanted to be in Rent on Broadway more than anything. Stay in touch with what inspires you.

Aries (March 21 – April 19) I didn’t know anyone in show business. And for a long time, I don’t think it even registered for me that these were jobs you could seek out. You can make it work.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) Star or roadie, usher or ensemble member — I didn’t know what the capacity would be. But I believed that there could be, in or around the thing that I loved, a place with my name on it. You can work your way up.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20) The next day, I went to the record store to sample the [Rent] cast album. I’d meant to only listen to a song or two. Ninety minutes later I was still standing there. Frozen. I was at the cash register five minutes after that ponying up the $19.99 for my very own copy of the double-disk recording — more than I’d ever spent on a single piece of art. An art experience may be better than expected.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22) You hear a lot about the Big Break from successful people. But I would challenge you to think of your Big Break as an inside job instead of something that you’ll find externally. Opportunities are made.

Signs of Life 20/07/30

All quotes are from The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance, by Tom Brady, born Aug. 3, 1977.

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22) What are your goals? How do you define success in your life? Only you can answer that! Yay!

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22) The game never stops evolving, so why should I? You shouldn’t.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) … just because you’re standing at a buffet, that doesn’t mean you’re supposed to eat everything. You should eat just enough so that you feel full, and no more. Sports training is no different. Binge watching may not be the best way to go, either.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) Many gym trainers tell athletes to target their upper bodies on Mondays and Wednesdays and their lower bodies on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At TB12, we advise athletes to do upper body, core, and lower body in the same workout. A comprehensive approach is best.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) … the ones I remember best are the closely fought games in which, no matter what the scoreboard says, our team put in our best effort. Ah, those are good times.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) Strong athletes like to work on strength, and fast athletes like to work on speed. But that doesn’t create balance. To create balance, we need to work on our deficiencies as well. You know what you need to do.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) After the seventh push-up, your chest is straining and you feel fatigued. … But your brain says, ‘Keep going! Fight hard!’ It asks other muscles to step in to help you finish. It could be your lats, your triceps, or your butt — your brain calls on any muscle that will help you achieve your goal and finish what you set out to do. But to me, form first means engaging only the muscles you should be engaging for the movement you are attempting to do. That’s how you keep the proper balance. Start easy and work your way up.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20) If you do daily squats with a four-hundred-pound load on your back, the only thing you’ll get better at is squatting with a four-hundred-pound load on your back. Which could come in handy sometime!

Aries (March 21 – April 19) Make sure you maintain the right biomechanically correct form — knees over feet, hips over knees, and your core engaged — before you start, and stop performing an exercise the moment your form starts to break down. One good push-up is better than 10 bad ones.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) Sometimes I think I’m the most hydrated person in the world. It’s not a competition.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20) Sometimes we see older people working out with bands, or doing water aerobics or tai chi. It turns out that they know something the rest of us don’t. Ask them what they know.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22) If we’ve lost but I’ve learned something, the game turns into a positive experiment. Sometimes in the moment it doesn’t feel that way, because the emotions are running so high — but you try to learn and move on. Lesson No. 1: Don’t send Lenny from Accounting for coffee.

Signs of Life 20/07/02

All quotes are from The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets, by Jean Craighead George, born July 2, 1919.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22) But how were we going to manage the bath schedule? When we had the baby painted turtle in the tub for a couple of weeks before releasing him, it was simple enough to pick him up and put him in the sink while we showered. The ducklings would pop right out of the sink. If the ducklings have the tub, you can shower outside with the garden hose.

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22) The scrappy little crow … clawed the air as if to tear us to pieces. I went to the refrigerator, took out a cold cheeseburger, and stuffed a bite in his mouth, pressing it with my finger to make sure he swallowed. He did, and instantly changed his tune. … At the end of the day we had a pet crow. Crows like cheeseburgers.

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22) I saw another world through the eyes of my kestrel. It was a world of crickets, meadow flowers, cumulus clouds, thunderheads, and tree hollows. To get out of your own head, spend some time with nature.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) Virginia was also happy to see the mice go. She was smiling the day the cage went to the basement. With a thank-goodness-that’s-over sigh, she opened Twig’s windows wide and let the fresh air from the woods blow through the room. Then Craig came home with a baby skunk. Maybe bring back the mice?

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) The bullfrog arrived in a bucket with eleven other bullfrogs that Craig and his friends had caught for the high school science teacher. ‘We’re not going to dissect them,’ Craig told me. ‘The teacher’s planning some behavioral study.’ … Craig covered the bucket for the night. Around two in the morning I heard a pot lid clanking to the floor, and frogs croaking. The frogs have their own ideas.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) ‘I’m not going to play with that crow anymore,’ she said. ‘He takes all my toys.’ Who needs a greedy playmate?

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) The little raccoons could climb up trees, but they couldn’t climb down. … [Their mother] loped up the tree, grabbed one by the scruff of its neck, and dropped it to the ground with a thud. Then she dropped the other one, hurried down the tree, and stood over them while she scolded them with snarls. Baby raccoons are not known for planning ahead.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) People see the world from an earthbound level. But ah, the bird. From the top of the roof, trees, and telephone poles, Crowbar got a bird’s-eye view of the world. He saw the entire neighborhood as well as what went on inside our house. From the trees he peered down at us through the windows. It’s a good time to recalibrate your perspective. And get a wheel alignment.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20) Weasels sleep as hard as they play. Play hard, sleep hard.

Aries (March 21 – April 19) The next day Twig and Luke came running to the sunporch, where I worked and kept my typewriter, library, plants, bugs, and other things pertinent to raising children and writing nature books. It’s a sunporch and an office!

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) ‘Yammer [the owl] loves Road Runner,’ Twig said, and dashed to the TV…. A chord of music sounded, lights flashed, and all eyes — particularly Yammer’s — were riveted on that zany bird running on and off the screen. Enjoy a riveting performance.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20) My first pet was a baby turkey vulture, a carrion eater fit for witches and monsters…. He was a work of art. I loved him on sight. You never know who you’ll connect with.

Signs of Life 20/07/23

All quotes are from The Flame Trees of Thika, by Elspeth Huxley, born July 23, 1907.

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22) The prospect of a party, even if it consisted only of one guest with nothing beyond a clean pair of socks in his saddle-bag, always gave Tilly’s eye a sparkle and her laugh a new contagious gaiety. Party time!

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22) A simple grass hut could be built in a couple of days, but this needed organization…. You can’t just throw grass in a heap and expect a hut.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) ‘… And when the coffee’s made a fortune for you, what will you do with it?’ ‘I don’t know what comes first,’ Tilly answered. ‘Robin wants a castle in Scotland, and I should like a safari across the Northern Frontier into Abyssinia and home by the Nile. And then I’d like to own a balloon, and to breed New Forest ponies, and to get to China on the trans-Siberian railway, and to have a model poultry farm, and buy a Daimler, and fish in Norway — oh, and lots of other things.’ Yeah, sure, just snap your fingers and it’s yours.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) So that was why she was upset …. He did not know the reason, and went off thinking her careless and touchy. Avoid misunderstandings.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) My reply caused the sort of laughter any child dislikes, because it has a ring of patronage; but Juma had made a meringue-crusted pudding with which I was able to console myself…. There is pudding for you.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) I became friends with Sammy. To the Kikuyu he was stern and often arrogant, but to us he was always polite and dignified. Spread kindness to everyone.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) I discovered gradually that a legend existed to fit every bird and beast … they were for women and old men to repeat to children in the smoky, firelit evenings.

Pay attention at story time.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20) ‘But what will I do for the dinner,’ she cried in deep distress, ‘when there’s no prime beef to be had in the country, and no decent turkeys either, and the fowls the size of starlings, and the mutton tough as old boots?’ Cereal. Or salad.

Aries (March 21 – April 19) In our circle of cool shade … we inhabited a different world from the sun-soaked Kikuyu ridges that stretched to meet a far, enormous sky…. It was as if we sat in a small, darkened auditorium gazing out at a stage which took in most of the world. All you need is one good tree.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) An ant carrying a speck of food hurried across the dusty plain under Lettice’s eye. With a twig, she gently pushed it aside to change its direction, but each time it turned back to resume the course on which it was set. Ant beats twig.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20) … I was allowed to help scoop moist earth round the seedlings, and press it in with my fingers, which had all the delight of making mud pies with the added pleasure of utility…. Got mud? Make pie!

Cancer (June 21 – July 22) She disapproved of romantics, but of course was one herself, though she concealed it like a guilty secret. Self-acceptance is important.

Signs of Life 20/07/16

All quotes are from The Friendly Persuasion, by Jessamyn West, born July 18, 1902.

Cancer (June 21 – July 22) Eliza always said Labe never put a foot out of bed until he heard her start to scrape the gravy skillet. Don’t eat gravy for breakfast.

Leo (July 23 – Aug. 22) The town blazed under the July sun; it throbbed with the heat of the season — and the heat of fear and excitement and wonder and resolution. At first Josh thought it was as alive as he had seen it for an August fair or Fourth of July celebration. Outdoor dining is nice.

Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22) This hour, this house, this season. All was as it should be. It was one of those contented peaks a woman reaches and clings to. Not a thing clamoring to be done, not so much as a piece of lint beneath the hired man’s bed to keep the mind from resting. … The sitting room was like a welcoming hand: chairs saying, Sit and rock; flower saying, Sniff and smell. Eliza sat and rocked. She rose and sniffed and savored. She did not see that anything could be bettered. Ahhhhhh.

Libra (Sept. 23 – Oct. 22) Jess pined for music, though it would be hard to say how he’d come by any such longing. Put your favorites on repeat.

Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) No horse had ever looked so much like traveling and had traveled so much like standing still. Save a horse, ride a bicycle.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) Jess leaped down into the cellar, took the box, turned it round and round. ‘An old-timer,’ he said. ‘A box of the kind they used to carry maps and deeds in, a place of safe-keeping for what was treasured.’ Is your smartphone charged?

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) Eliza shut the door firmly behind her and heard no more. She sat again in the sitting room, she rocked … but she got no pleasure from it. Perfection was a hollow thing after all. It’s an illusion.

Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) Old Lafe was not a man to hold a grudge and Eliza hadn’t burned his only hat. He was soon back, wearing, so far as Eliza could see, the egg container’s twin, ready to further instruct and edify. There’s always another hat.

Pisces (Feb. 19 – March 20) It was an in-between time: afternoon bygone, night not yet come, neither summer, nor fall. You can make of it whatever you want!

Aries (March 21 – April 19) Eliza lifted her breakfast bell to ring, then let arm and soundless bell drop to her side. She felt a profound reluctance to disturb in any way the morning quiet. Avoid chaos.

Taurus (April 20 – May 20) But the day she rode through was more to Mattie than her destination. The roses smell nice.

Gemini (May 21 – June 20) Enoch was instantly equipped, for the most part, with feelings on every subject. Feelings can change.

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